American Pie 30.05.02

Do stories about animals and pets sell papers? The recently launched New York Sun seems to think so. In its first month it has carried on its front page at least 18 stories about cats, dogs, birds and other animals – 19 if you include the "monster ant colony". The animal stories have ranged from a dog marooned on an abandoned ship to birth control for monkeys. The most recent have been about birds – featherless chickens in London and the matchmaker in Brazil who finds mates for rare parrots. How are sales of the new paper doing? All the publisher will say is: "They are reaching expectations."

Pets may sale papers, but lesbians don’t sell magazines. Sales of Rosie O’Donnell’s magazine, Rosie, have plummeted since the talkshow hostess came out as gay. News-stand sales fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000. A year ago, it was selling well over 500,000 on news-stands.

Reaction to some of the news coverage from the Middle East is provoking boycotts of some US newspapers. They include The New York Times, which has been accused of being pro-Palestinian in its coverage. Leading Jewish figures in New York called for a month-long boycott of the paper and many readers responded by cancelling their subscriptions, although the Times refused to say how many. Editor Howell Raines insisted the paper tried to be fair and balanced in its coverage and regretted the loss of even a single reader. But many readers have accused the Times of being skewed in its coverage, especially in its reporting of the suicide bomb attacks. Other papers that have been targeted include The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Even CNN and National Public Radio have come under fire. One public radio station in Boston said it had lost more than a £1bn in financial support this year because some supporters of Israel had encouraged a boycott of the station.



It’s 20 years since the Reverend Sun Myung Moon launched The Washington Times as an anti-Communist paper – and an alternative to the alleged liberal bias of The Washington Post. To mark the anniversary, the 82-year-old Moon delivered an hour-long speech to staff in Korean (which provoked a quiet exodus of some staff to a nearby bar) in which he pledged that the money-losing paper was in no danger of folding or being sold, despite, he said, several offers. He promised it would still be around in 10 years.

As a teenager during the Second World War, the future Daily Mail reporter Anthony Cave Brown helped pack fake propaganda newspapers, printed secretly in Luton, into bomb casings to be dropped over Germany. It was this experience that prompted him to write the bestseller Bodyguard of Lies, all about the "black war" against Hitler directed by former Express man Sefton Delmar. It is back in the bookshops here, having been reprinted by Lyons Press, which hopes to cash in on the renewed interest in the last war. Also back in the bookshops is Where The Action Was, a compendium of stories about women war correspondents. It is being promoted as an "inspirational" book for young women considering journalism as a career.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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