The State of NY Publishing

Is corporate-dominated, celebrity-driven industry necessarily a bad thing? Giveaway daily newspapers are competing for the city’s attention, with newsracks and news hawkers stationed around the subways and wherever people congregate. AM Metro was actually fairly decent, considering the brevity of the stories. My friend Aaron, a voracious reader, likes them because of the calendar of city events that the papers publish. I used to think these shorthand newspapers were dumbed-down for the masses who don’t read, especially young folks who tend to get their news from television or the Internet. Now I’m not so sure. In this age of Go-Go maximum efficiency, emulating the Japan work ethic of the seventies, no one has time to read when they’re supposed to be productive. And it takes time to read the New York Times every day instead of just on Sunday as I do back home, I discovered. The New York Post, which is a shorthand paper with more pages, splashier graphics, and a right-wing tilt more pronounced than its News Corp sibling Fox News, isn’t free, but rather costs a quarter. That’s a cheap price to pay for blazing front pages headlines like the one referring to New York Yankee baseball player and noted steroid-user Jason Giambi, who held a press conference at Yankee Stadium the previous day to apologize for fans. Only at the press conference, Giambi never said he took steroids, only that he was sorry. To which the Post headlined: “He's No Yankee; He's a Dodger"

The flaming hed below was devoted to "firebrand attorney Lynne Stewart" who was convicted of passing along messages from the jail cell of the blind Egyptian cleric mastermind behind the 1993 bombing attempt to bring down the World Trade Center to his supporters on the outside.
It simply read: "Traitor"

For all the NY Post’s obvious fawning of the Administration in power in the United States – two pages devoted to Condoleeza Rice’s “Charm Offensive in Europe”—its obsession with Hilary Clinton cuts both ways. Sure, she needs to be demonized, as far as the paper is concerned, but the editors also recognize she’s a star in NYC and covers her every move like a bucket of Sherwin-Williams, even using Howard Dean’s nomination to lead the Democratic Party as evidence his zealotry will allow Hilary to triangulate and look good to the mainstream by distancing herself from Dean. That’s a stretch. According to the NY Post, polls indicate George Pataki is behind if he runs for Governor and if he runs for President. Corporate muckraker and New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer is way ahead of the competition. And for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, Hilary is way ahead too. On the Republican side, former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani is way ahead as well.

The Washington Post publishes its own shorthand paper in D.C. that’s given away wherever people cluster. That paper already has a competitor called the Examiner that is bankrolled by financier Phillip Anschutz, who intends to distribute free Examiners in cities all around the country. My favorite giveaway weekly in New York is not the Village Voice, but the Onion.

Two spies told me how the book publishing business is worse than ever, both citing the corporate conglomeration of publishing in general and the dominance of bottom-line bean-counters (no offense, Aaron) over editors who used to take chances with writers, just like the music biz. Sales and celebrity rule. Art and creativity are Old Publishing concepts. At one publishing house, I picked up a copy of the book by Donna Hanover, Rudy Giuliani’s ex-wife. It’s about her hooking up again with her college sweetheart. I can wait to read that book. Still some good ones fall through the cracks. The spies are evidently on the mark. My friend Nick Tosches, who has an impressive track record with books including “Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll”, “Hellfire”, “Dino”, “Cut Numbers” “Trinity” and a seering bio on boxer Sonny Liston, complained he couldn’t find a publisher for his latest book proposal. That and his inability to smoke his Camel straights in public places in the city he’s lived in for more than 30 years have prompted him to move to Paris.

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