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July 14, 2003

Bring back Bonnie!

Daniel Radosh

Holy crap, Us Weekly did not waste any time after losing editor Bonnie Fuller to begin sucking full-tilt. Flip through the Demi-Ashton issue sometime. It's poorly written and shockingly ugly. It's hard to understand, actually. Even if Bonnie took the art director with her (something I could surely look up if I had time) couldn't they just tell the remaining design staff, just keep doing it the way you were? Instead, they went for a completely new look. To call it tabloidy is an insult to the Globe. Meanwhile over at People, we get an infomercial for Scientology (second item). Anything to land an interview with Tom Cruise, I guess.

Update: There is a funny near Media Moment in the Fox News article linked above. Friedman writes: "Hidden in the story is the headline that Cruise was not able to read until age 22. The first reading material he had, he claims, was a Scientology picture book. That book led him to HELP and, consequently, Scientology. Talk about burying your lead."

While I think Friedman is right on his larger point -- that People should not have let Cruise write a 5-page advertorial for Scientology -- the problem with claiming that the headline is "hidden in the story" is that he's not using the word headline metaphorically, as in "this should have been the headline," but literally, as in the headline is: "Tom Cruise: My Struggle To Read." By definition, you can't hide a headline! What's more, while Friedman is right that the illiteracy tidbit isn't technically the lead of the story which, as I said, was written by (or in the name of) Cruise, and has a memoirish tone, rather than a journalistic one it is the precis, which comes before the lead, and in bigger letters: "Graduating high school in 1980, 'I was a functional illiterate,' says Tom Cruise, who hid his problem for years." That's the very first thing readers see. What's buried?

On a more nitpicky note, the piece makes clear that while Cruise credits Scientology with teaching him to read (and that claim does raise a lot of questions that go unanswered, primarily, didn't he ever have to read a script?) he doesn't credit HELP specifically, as it wasn't founded until 1997.

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