20 Questions

Acknowledging that committing predictions to print is usually foolish, Press Clips offers its first year-end media quiz. No more than one letter per question may be chosen; all correct answers will score a point, even if there is more than one correct answer per question. Anyone who ends up with more points than me will receive a Voice T-shirt (if we're still making them) and a mention in next year's column; entries must be received no later than noon on January 8, 1998. Mail them to me at 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003; fax them to my attention at 212-475-8944; or e-mail them to jledbet@echonyc.com. All subjective decisions will be made by a panel of Press Clips judges.

1. The top editor who will lose his or her job in 1998 will be (a) New York magazine's Caroline Miller; (b) Esquire's David Granger; (c) the Daily News's Debby Krenek; (d) all of the above; (e) none of the above.

2. George Pataki will receive the general-election endorsement of (a) the Daily News; (b) the New York Post; (c) The New York Times; (d) all of the above; (e) a and b only.

3. The big magazine surprise of the year will be that (a) George will fold; (b) Details will get credit for being hip again; (c) Spy will get credit for being funny again; (d) POV will be taken seriously.

4. At The New York Times (a) Abe Rosenthal will finally retire; (b) Elizabeth Kolbert's Metro columns, once irrelevant, will continue to improve; (c) the Washington bureau will swipe an important hire away from a major publication; (d) b and c; (e) none of the above.

5. Which media conglomerate will be the first in 1998 to sever its book-publishing arm? (a) Viacom sells Simon & Schuster; (b) Hearst sells William Morrow; (c) News Corporation sells HarperCollins; (d) Time Warner sells Warner Books--Little, Brown.

6. A media lawsuit that will captivate insiders but receive very little coverage will involve (a) Barbara Walters; (b) PR giant Howard Rubenstein Associates; (c) New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.; (d) New Yorker editor Tina Brown.

7. Which reshuffling will take place in 1998? (a) John Podhoretz will lose his recently acquired New York Post editorial-page editor gig and take a less visible position within the Murdoch empire; (b) Hanna Rosin will leave The New Republic to become a full-time staff writer at New York; (c) James Fallows will step down from editing U.S. News & World Report and take over the Atlantic Monthly upon the retirement of veteran editor William Whitworth; (d) Charles Peters will give up editing The Washington Monthly, to be replaced by Mickey Kaus; (e) none of the above.

8. Slate has announced that it will begin charging its Web readers; by the end of 1998 Slate's paid readership will be (a) 30,000; (b) 50,000; (c) 100,000; (d) more than 100,000; (e) zero--they'll delay the charge just like last time.

9. Contrarian Department: Which seemingly improbable scenario will occur in 1998? (a) the New York Post will editorialize in favor of Paula Jones dropping her lawsuit against President Clinton; (b) Mark Willes will be hailed as a publishing mensch as the Los Angeles Times makes substantial gains among Latino readers; (c) The New Republic will write a critical editorial against Al Gore; (d) Conde Nast/Advance Publications will announce it is going public; (e) The New York Observer will hire a black staff columnist.

10. A Pulitzer prize will go to (a) The New York Times for coverage of the unfolding Gulf War Syndrome cover-up, a year late and with a nod toward the Birmingham News; (b) The Village Voice; (c) The Philadelphia Inquirer's 30-part series following up Western engagement in Somalia; (d) The Wall Street Journal, for coverage of the Columbia/HCA scandal; (e) none of the above.

11. The surprise advertising development in 1998 will be (a) a wholesale demand for reductions in Web rates, based on a survey that will find most Webheads ignore advertising; (b) billboard companies' aggressive pursuit of untraditional outdoor advertisers, to make up for lost tobacco ad revenues; (c) following the soon-to-be-announced cancellation of CNN's Capital Gang Sunday, a major shakeup in the sponsorship of Sunday morning gabshows, due to plummeting ratings; (d) b and c.

12. At The New Yorker in 1998 (a) Elton John will guest-edit a special issue; (b) Joe Klein will slink away, having run up significant expenses but contributed nothing consequential; (c) Seymour Hersh will rejoin the ranks, having generated Tina-level buzz with The Dark Side of Camelot; (d) The New Republic's Hanna Rosin will be hired as a Capitol Hill correspondent.

13. A network news program will announce the retirement of a major onscreen talent (a) Dateline NBC; (b) ABC's 20/20; (c) The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer; (d) 60 Minutes.

14. Which women's mag will experience the greatest editorial staff turnover? (a) Harper's Bazaar; (b) Vogue; (c) Glamour; (d) Allure; (e) Teen.

15. The book that will have media people twittering the most will be (a) Gail Collins's The Scorpion Tongues; (b) L.J. Davis's expose about John Malone and HDTV; (c) the book version of Dark Alliance, Gary Webb's crack--CIA story; (d) Carol Felsenthal's unauthorized The Newhouse Empire.

16. Which media stock will experience a drop of 25 per cent or more during 1998? (a) Barnes & Noble; (b) Dow Jones; (c) America Online; (d) Times Mirror; (e) all of the above.

17. The 1998 story that will catch the New York media completely by surprise will be that (a) Geraldine Ferraro will not run for anything; (b) far-reaching convictions in the transit police union trial, to which the dailies haven't bothered to send reporters; (c) Betsy McCaughey Ross will win the Democratic gubernatorial primary; (d) Time Warner will announce major reductions in cable rates; (e) a court will declare Rudy Giuliani's handling of the Civilian Complaint Review Board to be unconstitutional.

18. Which of the following will be snubbed at the National Magazine Awards? (a) Vanity Fair; (b) GQ; (c) Wired; (d) The Nation; (e) none of the above.

19. The biggest effect of Mort Zuckerman's hiring of Harry Evans will be (a) beefing up the Daily News's investigative staff; (b) paring down the News's investigative staff; (c) fewer New Yorker writers getting Random House book contracts; (d) a surprise overhaul of the Atlantic Monthly.

20. The most talked-about magazine launch of the year will be (a) Bob Guccione Jr.'s Gear; (b) Steven Brill's Content; (c) ESPN Magazine; (d) an as-yet-unnamed Hearst title focusing on the massive country-music market.

My picks: 1-b, 2-d, 3-c, 4-d, 5-d, 6-b, 7-c, 8-a, 9-c, 10-c, 11-d, 12-b, 13-d, 14-a, 15-d, 16-c, 17-b, 18-c, 19-d, 20-b.

Clipboard

A couple of weeks back, I came down harshly on rookie Times reporter Jim Yardley for some glaring errors in a story about Bill Clinton's NYC visit; this past Sunday, Yardley was a day ahead of the pack with a story about an investigation into possible police involvement in a reported suicide of a Brooklyn gym teacher... Of the major national newspapers, The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the massacre of 45 unarmed peasants in southern Mexico has been by far the best. Bizarrely, the Times has done everything it can to trumpet the ruling party's denial of involvement--almost as if they fear being sued again by the Mexican government (even though that suit was dropped)....Three weeks ago, I noted that the mainstream press had ignored the trial in U.S. court against Radovan Karadzic; prompted by that dig, Adam Miller of the Fox News website (www.foxnews.com) and Cynthia Cotts of the New York Law Journal have both written exemplary stories.

Research: Dan Levine

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