Banana Flackery

In the two months since the hurricane, the deforestation-flooding connection has been addressed in op-eds in The Boston Globe and The New York Times and in a Times editorial by Tina Rosenberg. But even the esteemed Rosenberg failed to mention Chiquita. (Is it something in the drinking water on 43rd Street?)

So far, the only writer to hold Chiquita accountable for its behavior is Alexander Cockburn, whose kickass column in the New York Press chronicled 100 years of turpitude in Latin America.

A cynic might say it's no secret why the media continues to let Chiquita slide. Just look at what happened to Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Mike Gallagher, whose investigative series challenged the company on everything from its environmental and labor policies to compliance with land ownership and foreign bribery laws. After Chiquita's lawyers discovered that Gallagher had accessed the company's voice mail, they sent out the word that one reporter's wiretap vio lation was more heinous than anything the company could have done to some peasants down in rural Honduras.

Before you could say Carmen Miranda, Chiquita brought Gallagher to his knees, and this fall the former reporter agreed to disclose his confidential sources to a county prosecutor. Meanwhile, his series, posted at www.coha.org, contains plenty of leads that could inform the next exposé of banana chicanery. But if Carl Lindner has his way, U.S. readers will continue to be fed press releases about the rising price of pecorino.


Holiday Jeer

For the marketing masters at The New Yorker, owning a copyright means never having to say you're sorry.

At least no one apologized to freelance illustrator Adam McCauley last year, after a drawing he contributed to The New Yorker's Talk of the Town section turned up on a Christmas card distributed by the magazine's business department. The card was sent to hundreds of people on the magazine's payroll, with the conspicuous exception of the artist whose drawing appeared in recycled form on its cover.

"I didn't find out about it until later," McCauley recalls, "when a friend of mine who's an artist for The New Yorker called and said, 'I saw your Christmas card."' McCauley complained to the magazine, only to learn that The New Yorker's contract demands the right to use artwork not just for one-time publication, but also for marketing any tie-in products they can dream up, such as calendars, desktop diaries—and corporate Christmas cards.

McCauley is a Hawaii-based artist whose very retinal portfolio is posted at www.adammccauley.com. He says he does as many as five jobs a week for magazines, which typically buy the rights for one-time publication only. But not The New Yorker, which asks for global rights on the first date. McCauley notes that the prestige of going to press alongside Eustace Tilley is incentive enough for most artists to sign away their rights in a blink. "No one's going to refuse to be published in The New Yorker," he says.

Nevertheless, McCauley was "shocked" by the cavalier way he was treated, when the magazine could have easily notified him and paid "even the minimal amount" to secure reprint rights. He complained to the Graphic Artists Guild, which was already warning artists to read the fine print before they sign a Condé Nast contract.

Guild executive director Paul Basista says that while the industry is moving toward universal rights, Condé Nast was a "pioneer" of the practice. "They decided early on that intellectual property had value, but only if they owned the rights." In a December 1997 letter to company chairman S.I. Newhouse, Basista asked Newhouse to scrap the clause in the contract that demands universal rights without any additional payment, as well as a retroactive clause that backdates the waiver of rights to all work published since August 1, 1994. He got no response.

Today, Basista recommends that artists revise the contract or ask for a new one. But it's not worth the hassle for Adam McCauley, who ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more. "They market The New Yorker as this arty thing," says McCauley, "yet they really exploit artists. They could set a much better example."

A spokesperson for Condé Nast declined to comment.

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