Is The Washington Post trying to hire Sam and Janet Evening to succed Woodward and Bernstein?
Is The Washington Star planning a morning edition? A tabloid?
According to James R. Shepley, chairman of The Star and president of its parent company, Time Inc., Sam and Janet overnight have become a "Washington institution" as the broadcast advertising promoters of The Star, and they've been invited todo a satirical sketch about The Post attempting to hire them.
But Shepley was mum yesterday, in an address to the local Advertising Club, about future plans and the local Advertising Club, about future plans and strategies of Star executives in their attempt to win a larger share of the metropolitan area's daily advertising and circulation market.
Shepley did not use the occasion of "newspaper day" at the club to reveal any new directions for the 126-year old Washington daily, which Time purchased one year ago from Texas millionaire Joe Allbriton.
He did seek to answer one persistent question that has been asked for the past 12 months: Why did the world's largest publishing company decide to buy The Star? It was a newspaper that was losing money at the rate of $7.2 million in the first 11 months of 1978-before a year-end confrontation with 11 unions resulted in new contracts that management says will permit a five-year period of stability and an investment of $60 million to reinvigorate The Star.
"Time is first and foremost in the business of journalism . . . and in journalism, Washington is where it's at", Shepley said.
What may not be so obvious, he continued, is the "publishing opportunity" here-the largest urban market where growth is continuing and where newspaper readership is at the highest level in the country.
Conceding that The Star has faced fifficulties in recent years, Shepley added: "There is nothing ordained about these troubles." While not revealing any new plans to overcome a circulation and advertising gap between the city's two dailies that has widened in recent years, Shepley made these points:
"We've begun to evolve and evolve we must," to reflect reader interests apparent in population shifts and the addition of more women to the work force, which represent new advertising markets.
The "first priority" was achieved by "getting the right to manage" a newspaper that "was largely managed by union contract."
The Star's new regional editions-five separate metropolitan news sections aimed at udiences in smaller geographic areas - have been well received, with daily circulation up about 30,000 to 356,000 last week. (The most recent Audit Bureau of Circulation data, for the six months ended last Sept. 30, showed Star daily circulation at 328,612 compared with 559,371 for The Post.)
The "evolution is far from complete," with internal studies now being made on possible improvements in arts, cultural and business-financial coverage.
Recalling a remark by a Star executive, Shepley noted that his newspaper had "one advantage" over The Post-"more potential subscribers than they do."
As for Sam and Janet Evening, they were at the luncheon yesterday-on a tape recording. Sam and Janet interrupted the introduction of Shepley by Star Publisher George Hoyt and went on to conclude the brief testimonial, after complaining that Hoyt sounded "too much like a publisher."
WALL STREET TO D.C.: One of the nation's leading business economists, Michael K. Evans, has moved to Washington and opened a new company called Evans Economics Inc.
Evans founded and formerly was president of Chase Econometric Associates Inc., a subsidiary of New York's Chase Manhattan Bank and one of the most respected forecasting businesses.
Earlier this year, Evans sold his remaining shares in Chase Econometric to the bank but remained as chief economist on a part-time basis, an affiliation with the New York firm will continue for six more months.
In the meantime, he has set up shop at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and will concentrate on two major areas: a commodities forecasting service, attempting to apply money management techniques to commodities purchases, and economic consulting. A commodities newsletter also is planned.
"Most commodities forecasters concentrate only on factors affecting the supply side (but) we plan to integrated the relationship between demand and supply factors to a much greater extent . . ." Evans said.
Evans, who plans to move his family here in June, says the basic economic forecast remains the same-whether made on Pennsylvania Avenue or Wall Street.
February data on economic activity and inflation make it even more likely that a recession will take place in the second half of 1979, Evans said.
"We now see the rate of inflation averaging over 10 percent in the first half of the year, which will lead to further increases in interest rates during the next three months," he told a European Management Center session here last week.
The prime rate that banks charge their most worthy corporate customers should peak at 13 percent to 13 1/2 percent in June, Evans forecast. As for Teamster contracts with the trucking industry, expiring next weekend, Evans predicted an eventual settlement with a first-year wage boost of 11 percent (compared with the wage guideline of 7 percent), exposing the "basic ineptness" of Carter administration voluntary controls and "effectively bringing them to an end."
Perhaps the most sobering forecast of Evans: The recession will be more severe than generally anticipated, based on evidence that producers now are stock-piling inventories at excessive rates to avoid future price hikes.