Memo Pad: Round Two... Back In Action... What A Group...

Us Weekly has caused yet another stir within the celebrity weekly category with an attack on its competition.

ROUND TWO: Us Weekly has caused yet another stir within the celebrity weekly category with an attack on its competition. The magazine, in its new section called "Faux Biz," this week calls out Life & Style and In Touch on stories they have printed since 2005 on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship. This follows a feature last week where Us Weekly "corrected" false headlines of Star, In Touch, Life & Style and OK!. Why is the Wenner title on this crusade for fairness in celebrity reporting? "The industry of celebrity magazines is the only thriving niche in magazines," said editor in chief Janice Min. "This sort of blatant abuse on the newsstands of selling covers really threatens the category. The whole idea of faking news is wrong."

Competitors suspect that there may be other reasons, though. A source at one competitor said, "They're doing this because their newsstand is down" for the first few months of the year. For the second half of 2006, Us Weekly sold 978,285 copies, third behind People (1.6 million copies) and In Touch (1.2 million), according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. An Us Weekly spokesman declined to discuss the magazine's newsstand performance, but Min denied that was the motivation behind the new section.

The editor believes publications such as In Touch and Life & Style do more than make mistakes, they fabricate stories to sell copies. "All news-gathering operations" — including Us Weekly — "will make reporting errors and they correct them and endeavor to keep reporting accurately day after day," said Min. "The difference here is these publications operate on a different level, of fantasy and make-believe. The wholesale practice of fabricating news stories is not what Us Weekly is about. We don't decide based on no reporting that a couple should split because we want to sell more copies. Us Weekly is synonymous with authority in the category." Despite the charge, a spokeswoman for In Touch and Life & Style said the magazines stand behind their stories on Brad and Angelina.

But instead of a spread inside the magazine calling out tall tales, why not use your authority in the field to write the true story and feature it on your cover so the consumer buys Us Weekly over its competitors? "[This was] the best way to hammer out the fact that there's a long line of fiction being perpetrated," she explained.
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