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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   April 1995  issue


By Suzan Revah
Suzan Revah is a former AJR associate editor.     

Around Magazines

William J. Allen becomes editor of National Geographic , succeeding William Graves . Allen started with the magazine in 1969 as a summer intern. One of his first projects as editor will be the launch of the magazine's Japanese edition, the first foreign-language edition in its 106-year history... The Progressive also names a new editor. Matthew Rothschild , most recently publisher of the liberal monthly, takes over following the death of longtime Editor Erwin Knoll . Though Rothschild says he will do all he can to follow in Knoll's footsteps, he plans a few innovations, including more humor. "If I have a motto," says Rothschild, "it is, 'More lightning, less thunder.' "... SmartMoney adopts new rules to restrict non-staff contributors from writing about stocks they own in an effort to avoid influencing prices. The move comes in the wake of a Washington Post story questioning the stock holdings of SmartMoney's James J. Cramer , who writes a monthly column for the magazine called "Unconventional Wisdom." Though many readers were unhappy about the restrictions, which will preclude some contributors from recommending their favorite stocks, the new rules won't apply to Cramer.

There's the Rub

Two newspapers embrace touching solutions to stress and repetitive motion-related injuries. Minneapolis' Star Tribune begins giving copy editors gift certificates for monthly or bimonthly massages as part of a recent agreement with the copy desk. Only copy editors are eligible for the tactile relief, which is fully subsidized by the paper, though the certificates may only be used while off-duty. In Seattle, on the other hand, massages come with the territory. The Seattle Times recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of its "Relaxing Times" policy, which offers on-site, 20-minute massages to any company employee. Fifty dollars gets the tense typer four massages.

Network News

Former CBS correspondent Giselle Fernandez jumps networks to become coanchor of weekend " Today " and anchor of the Sunday night " NBC Nightly News ." Fernandez, perhaps best known for being the first reporter to interview Cuban leader Fidel Castro in English in two decades, will also host a five-day-a-week daytime interview program that will debut early next year... Faith Daniels ' contract expires at " Dateline NBC ," prompting her to leave both the show and the network in order to spend more time at home with her new baby... At ABC , Glenwood Branche moves in as vice president of news operations, replacing the departing Bill Moore . Dorrance Smith , who left ABC in 1991 to become a senior adviser to President George Bush , is named executive producer of " This Week with David Brinkley ," while Kathryn Christensen , onetime managing editor of Baltimore's Sun , is named executive producer of weekend news for the network. Christensen continues as senior broadcast producer and managing editor of " World News Tonight ." Catherine Crier is reassigned from " 20/20 " to ABC's New York bureau in her quest to do more political and foreign affairs reporting.

Switching Channels

Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT-TV hires Karl Idsvoog and orky Johnson to head a new four-person investigative unit. The veteran investigative reporters had been fired by rival CBS affiliate WCPO-TV after a dispute over a story on how campaign contributions may compromise Ohio judges. Eight WCPO reporters backed Idsvoog and Johnson, who maintained they were victims of "corporate censorship" because their story involved some of Cincinnati's most powprful citizens. Station managers accused the reporters of "sloppy and unethical conduct" and killed the story. ( Reported by Elliott Negin )

Wire Watch

Marvin West , former managing editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel , becomes managing editor of Scripps Howard News Service . West, the news service's sports editor for the past decade, succeeds Dale McFeatters , now senior writer and columnist... The Associated Press names Robert Port , a St. Petersburg Times investigative reporter and editor who specializes in computer-assisted reporting, special assignment editor.

Des Moines' New Leaders

The Des Moines Register names Dennis Ryerson editor and Diane Graham managing editor. Ryerson, once editorial page editor at the paper, was most recently editor of the Great Falls, Montana, Tribune, while Graham moves up from deputy managing editor. The new team is chosen following the surprise resignations of Editor Geneva Overholser and Managing Editor David Westphal . Their departures triggered a flurry of post-mortems that focused on the influence of bean counters in America's newsrooms (see page 60). While the nationally prominent Overholser did not publicly cite budget pressures from parent Gannett as her reason for stepping down, she has spoken often on the mounting industry-wide push to maximize profits. Westphal says his decision to bail out after an informal offer of Overholser's job from Publisher Charlie Edwards Jr. üwas "not at all orchestrated," though he says he does share Overholser's frustrations. Neither Overholser nor Westphal discloses plans for post-Register life; Westphal says he simply felt it was "time to move on to something else" after 17 years with the paper he delivered as a child.

Putting Her Money..

NBC 's Jane Pauley is called on her outspoken criticism of communications schools. The newscaster has spoken publicly about the complaints of news directors that communications graduates are ill-prepared to enter broadcasting careers. Now the Society of Professional Journalists asks Pauley, a longtime member, to become part of the solution. She'll be the honorary chair of an SPJ task force that will assess whether J-schools are providing students with the necessary skills to play a "meaningful role in the [broadcast] industry upon graduation." "There is no one best way to prepare for a career in journalism, and therefore the goal of our project is not to find one," Pauley says. "But something is amiss. Communications education has a credibility problem." To show she's serious, she donates $25,000 toward the study.

Changing (L.A.) Times

Jim Mann , the Los Angeles Times ' lead foreign policy reporter in the Washington bureau, begins a bi-monthly column for the paper on Asian affairs, while Janet Hook joins the bureau from Congressional Quarterly to cover Congress. Michael Parks , Jerusalem bureau chief and a foreign correspondent for nearly a quarter century, is named deputy foreign editor. Evelyn Iritani joins the Times' business staff as a reporter covering Pacific Rim business and trade, a beat she covered for the past nine years at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer .