A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Odds & Ends

By Quill

Jerusalem Post launches home delivery in America

There is now yet another newspaper for readers in the New York metropolitan area to choose from, at least on Fridays. Unlike The New York Times, New York Daily News or the New York Post, this one hails from far, far away. The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s most popular newspaper printed in English, began offering home subscriptions of its Friday edition (a broadsheet news section and a tabloid weekend magazine) in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut on March 24. The Post, part of the Hollinger International Inc. chain, vows to deliver by 6 a.m. in most areas. With 2,200 subscribers already signed up in May, Post publisher Tom Rose already deems the venture to be successful enough to think about expanding business into other American cities with large Jewish populations. “It’s a classic case of your customers knowing what they want,” Rose told Editor & Publisher by phone from Jerusalem on May 11. In this case, the demand was created by frequent travel by Israeli and American Jews between the two countries. “Our customers were asking us why they couldn’t read in New York what their friends and relatives in Israel were reading the same day,” Rose said. Printing pages in New York that were laid out in Jerusalem just hours before is made possible through the Internet. The pages are uploaded from Jerusalem onto a file transfer protocol site, and then the pages are downloaded in New York, plated and printed. “While the Jerusalem Post is produced in Jerusalem and printed in New York, the age of the Internet and T-1 lines allow us to offer products in a much more economical way,” Stephen Hastings, the Chicago-based director of international circulation for the Post, told Editor & Publisher. NAA report: Newspapers most trusted medium

Although media consumers are taking advantage of ever-diversifying sources of news and information, they still view newspapers as having more credibility than television, radio, magazines or the Internet, according to a Newspaper Association of America study. In the study, “Leveraging Newspaper Assets: A Study of Changing American Media Usage Habits,” respondents rate newspapers as their number one source for local news, local entertainment information, business news and personal finance information. Consumers also appear to be turning to newspapers first for advertising information, employment opportunities, homes and new and used cars for sale. “Even in this era of increased media competition, this study shows us that newspapers continue to be one of the most trusted sources of information, as well as a top medium for advertisers to reach consumers,” said John F. Sturm, NAA president and CEO, in a press release. “Newspapers are part of the fabric of our communities in a way that no other medium can match.” The study compared consumers’ usage of media in 2000 to benchmark figures in 1997. While the findings indicate an overall shift away from newspapers, radio and television and toward increased usage of the Internet, newspapers’ position remains strong relative to other media. Daily News tries to win back advertisers

An investigative series by the New York Daily News questioning the safety and sanitary practices of grocery stores in New York City’s five boroughs resulted in an advertising backlash from the grocers. Entitled “Dirty Rotten Shame,” the series used state inspection reports to point out the area’s most dangerous grocery stores. “More than half the city’s supermarkets failed inspections because of vermin, filth and rotting food,” the headline on the cover read. After the first day’s stories, grocery executives said that the Daily News’ reporting had relied on old inspection reports and that the stories hadn’t taken into account that a couple of recent reports had found stores named in the series to be clean. Despite some attempts from the News to soften the tone of the remaining stories in the series, all but one of the city’s major supermarket chains pulled their advertising from the Daily News. Some of them also stopped selling the newspaper. Supermarket industry executives estimated that the newspaper lost $50,000 to $100,000 from their ad boycott, and News executives did not disagree with the figures. In mid-June, the Daily News tried to win back the grocery stores’ advertising by printing a four-page advertorial with highly favorable coverage of the city’s supermarket industry – written by a free-lance writer and apparently done at The News’ expense. James Naughton, president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla., told The New York Times on June 14, “I can’t recall a previous case of advertorial copy contravening the thrust of an investigative series.” ABC News cuts 125 jobs, 10 percent of work force

ABC News is eliminating 125 jobs – about 10 percent of its work force of 1,200. The reductions are part of a program that corporate parent Walt Disney Co. announced in March, which will result in some 4,000 jobs being eliminated throughout Disney’s operations. The job cuts will be attained through buyouts, layoffs and eliminating open positions. As of early June, about 85 employees at ABC News were told that they were eligible to take the buyout offers. Another 20 or 30 employees were to be laid off later in June, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Online publishers cut content, raise fees

As advertising sales continued to dry up in the first half of 2001, Web sites dealt with decreasing revenues by cutting staff, implementing subscription fees and investing less in the main ingredient that put them on the map: original content. In April, TheStreet.com, an online financial news provider, cut 20 percent of its staff, and The Wall Street Journal Online laid off 35 employees. In May, MarketWatch.com announced plans to cut 15 percent of its work force, and CNN also laid off about 20 Internet employees. CNN’s job eliminations come on top of nearly 400 more that occurred in January, many of those involving people who worked on CNN’s Web sites. The Times eliminated 113 jobs in two rounds of layoffs at New York Times Digital, which canceled plans for an initial public offering earlier in the year. The cuts left the digital group with 255 total employees. Facing financial problems, many Web publishers are producing fewer stories and updating less frequently, relying more on their partners or news feeds. “Personnel-wise, we were always tight, but we lost about seven editorial people” in the layoffs, Bernie Gwertzman, editor of The New York Times on the Web, told the San Francisco Chronicle in early June. “It means whenever we want to do something extra, it puts a strain on it. In the best of all worlds, I’d like to originate more stuff, but we just don’t have the money to do that.” The content cutbacks also come as several sites are turning to subscriptions to make up for lost advertising revenue. In April, Salon.com launched a premium version of the site, offering subscribers access to some additional content and fewer ads for $30 a year. TheStreet.com already gets about one-third of its revenue from premium fees, and the Online Journal took in more than half of its first-quarter revenue from subscriptions. Belo, parent of The Dallas Morning News, said in May that it would start charging for some content and planned to follow the example of The New York Times Co. and start registering users of its Web sites. The New York Times is currently free but has said that it has considered charging for some of its online content. “When [sites are] asking people to pay for it at the same time they’re cutting back on the original content – that’s really difficult,” Geoff Lewis, former editor of TheStreet.com and CNBC.com, told The Wall Street Journal Online in early June. New round of layoffs begin at Time magazine

Unable to get enough buyout volunteers, Time managing editor Jim Kelly began laying people off. Two were let go on June 19, more were expected to follow later in June, according to the New York Post. Earlier in the year, Time had already laid off 12 people from its business department. When the latest round of firings ends, it is expected that 38 people will have been laid off between the business and editorial departments. The mass firing – believed to be the first at the magazine in 10 years – is separate from the buyout packages offered to 530 people in late May across Time Inc., the magazine wing of AOL Time Warner that includes People, Sports Illustrated and InStyle. Fortune, another Time Inc. magazine, has fired 40 people this year, and Money magazine’s Web site, Money.com has laid off eight people. Long-running Internet magazines shut down

Feed and Suck, two of the Web’s longest-lived magazines, announced on June 8 that they had suspended publication and laid off their small staffs because they couldn’t raise the funds necessary to keep going. Between the two magazines, a total of 19 people lost their jobs. Feed, known to its fans as a “hipper, interactive New Yorker” according to The New York Times, had about 160,000 monthly visitors. Suck, known for its witty irreverence, catered to the tastes of an estimated 200,000 readers. Both had been operating on shoestring budgets with skeleton staffs. With $4 million from Lycos Inc. and Advance Publications, the two magazines joined forces last year to form Automatic Media. That company also runs Plastic, a site full of readers’ commentaries on media and culture. For now, Plastic will keep going while Feed and Suck search for ways to survive, company officials said. “We are solid brands with reputations and readerships that are extremely loyal,” Stefanie Syman, Feed’s co-founder and co-editor, told The New York Times on June 11. “We just didn’t have the scale to pull it off.” Lousy newsstand sales result in dismissals

Despite declining sales figures, magazine publishers are flooding newsstands in hopes of increasing circulation and advertising. Unfortunately, the move isn’t working very well; nearly two out of three magazines on newsstands are going unread. And after months of depressing financial news, magazine companies are beginning to take matters into their own hands by shaking up the management structure at many high-profile publications. Here are just a few: • Bonnie Fuller, editor in chief of Glamour magazine since 1998, was asked to resign May 23 by Condé Nast chief executive Steven T. Florio and James Truman, the company’s editorial director. Fuller’s contract with Condé Nast was set to expire in August. Fuller had been asked to leave because of Glamour’s recent newsstand sales figures, Condé Nast executives told The New York Times in late May. The editors also said that Fuller had never really gotten off on the right foot with the company’s top management and editors. • Kate Betts, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, was asked to resign on May 31, a year before her three-year contract was due to expire, executives at Hearst Magazines said. She will be replaced by another Hearst editor, Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Marie Claire. The shake-up comes two years after Betts became the youngest editor in chief in the history of Harper’s Bazaar when she was hired at the age of 35 from Vogue. Betts was known for making waves in the editorial department during her tenure. During her first 11 months at Bazaar, she made changes to 75 percent of the magazine’s editorial departments. She also called for a redesign that came under fire for altering the distinctive cover font. “Making the magazine feel younger was specifically part of our mandate,” Betts said in an interview with The New York Times last July. “I think the first three issues were definitely much younger-feeling, and that may have come as a shock to some readers.” • U.S. News & World Report editor Stephen G. Smith was to be replaced by Brian P. Duffy, the weekly magazine’s executive editor, The New York Times reported on June 2. Over the course of the spring, Smith, who had been editor since 1998, lost the support of U.S. News chairman and editor in chief Mortimer B. Zuckerman as the advertising market declined and the circulation continued to erode at the nation’s No. 3 newsweekly. Duffy will be the magazine’s eighth editor since Zuckerman bought the magazine in 1984. Along with the leadership change, sources told the New York Daily News that proposed layoffs could trim the editorial staff by as much as 10 percent to around 200. Budget cuts are also likely to force closure the magazine’s news bureaus in Beijing and Moscow. Brill backs off on monthly publication

Brill Media Ventures reversed course in early May on Inside Content, its proposed monthly magazine that would have been jointly published with newly acquired Powerful Media. Instead, starting in September, Brill Media is planning to cut back the Brill’s Content publication schedule from 10 times a year to quarterly. According to the Industry Standard, CEO Steve Brill said in a statement on May 4 that “launching any new magazine in this economic environment doesn’t make sense; what makes much more sense is to take the magazine we already have that has a clear, important editorial mission and a loyal readership and put it immediately on firm economic footing, which is exactly what we are doing.” Court: Free speech outweighs wiretapping law

The Supreme Court ruled on May 25 that a Pennsylvania radio host was within his legal rights when he broadcast an illegally recorded telephone conversation, resolving a case that had the justices weighing privacy against free-press rights. The court said in a 6-3 vote that the First Amendment outweighs wiretap laws in the case of the host, Frederick Vopper, who aired a tape made by someone else. “A stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority, according to The Associated Press. The three more conservative justices filed dissents on the ruling, saying that the restriction being debated in the Vopper case was necessary to shield privacy. “Surely the interest in individual privacy, at its narrowest must embrace the right to be free from surreptitious eavesdropping on, and involuntary broadcast of, our cellular telephone conversations,” Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed. The court issued a deliberately narrow ruling to avoid opening up the debate to include all restrictions on distributing accurate information. Instead, the court focused only on the question of whether a publisher who came by information legally may be held responsible because the information had been gathered illegally. News organizations, including the AP, The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that they should not be held accountable for the taper’s legal transgression. CNN settles second Tailwind lawsuit

CNN settled a lawsuit on June 7 brought by one of two former producers fired over a 1998 story that accused the U.S. military of using nerve gas on Vietnam War-era defectors. While not disclosing a dollar amount, Jack Smith told The Associated Press that it was “a down payment on restoring my reputation.” Smith, who has said the Tailwind controversy “destroyed my journalism career,” now teaches journalism at two Chicago-area universities. The settlement occurred exactly three years after the broadcast of CNN’s report on Operation Tailwind. Military experts disputed the reporters’ allegations that a lethal nerve gas had been used on a village in Laos in 1970 as part of an undercover plan to wipe out American defectors, and CNN soon retracted the story on the grounds that it could not prove its accuracy. Smith, a veteran CNN producer, and his colleague April Oliver were fired in July 1998. The story’s on-air reporter, Peter Arnett, was reprimanded and later left the network. Smith told the AP that CNN fired him “to appease high-level military officials.” “Ever since the report aired, CNN has been trying to drive a stake through it, and bury me with it,” said Smith, who, with Oliver, has continued to stand by the Tailwind story. Oliver settled with the Atlanta-based network a year ago, a few weeks before Smith filed his lawsuit for defamation and wrongful termination.