You think magazines and newspapers are commercial ventures trying to lure innocent, unsuspecting readers with sensationalism, huh? (Keep reading this column and you'll discover an incredibly erotic item.) Well, get this memo, folks, sent to some UPI staffers:

"THE AP IS MUCH BETTER THAN WE ARE AT GETTING GOOD OLD CLICHE BUZZWORDS IN THEIR LEADS. EDITORS FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THEM. THEY LOOK FOR THEM. THEY ARE GOOD FOR HEADLINES -- DEADLINE, ULTIMATUM, LANDSLIDE, REVERSE, DEFEAT, SETBACK, VICTORY, ETC., ETC."

This dispatch was signed by foreign editor Gerry Loughran and revealed to the world in the July/August Columbia Journalism Review. Protect Your Local Pol

Washingtonians will undoubtedly find this nugget hard to believe but may want to note that the number of politicians is declining: There are nearly 31,000 fewer elected officials than there were a decade ago, according to the July/August American Demographics.

Somehow the wrong ones must be disappearing.

The same issue reports this easier-to-swallow fact: Every day, Americans insert 250 million coins -- $34 million -- into vending machines.

Figure that 10 percent of the time they just eat your money and don't spit anything out . . . . Time Is Money

Even more believable:

"In Manhattan's Rockefeller Center, it now costs $55 for the cleaning of a Swiss-made Omega Seamaster self-winding watch that sold for $50 dutyfree at the Amsterdam airport in 1967."

This from the July Money. The Byline Line Forms Here

No, those aren't typos you've been seeing in Time Magazine for the past three weeks. The anonymous house of Luce has begun printing bylines in its weekly newsmagazine -- something the competition over at Newsweek began doing three years ago. So now we know that some individual is actually writing all that stuff that reads the same.

Bigwigs at Time Inc. have been debating the issue for a dozen years -- ever since reporters started agitating for a little less selflessness in the pages. After all, they argued. Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated all have bylines. How about us, huh?

Last month assistant managing editor Dick Duncan circulated a memo that attempted to give some guidelines: Bylines would only go on stories of three columns or longer, and would name at most two correspondents in addition to the writer (unlike Newsweek, where the string of names following a story often seems interminable).

"It's so arbitrary and unfair," said one Time writer last week, who immediately swallowed his salt, bit into his lime, downed his tequila and added, "Just like the magazine itself." All This and Cartoons, Too

Pardon us for noticing, but The New Yorker has been awfully funny lately.

Is somebody up there starting to loosen up?

Consider Veronica Geng in the June 16 issue:

"AFFIANCEMENT FOR MISS CONVAIR

"Archbishop and Mrs. Marquis Convair of Citibank, N.Y., have made known the engagement of their daughter, Bulova East Hampton Convair, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Arlington County, Va. Miss Convair is a holding company in the Bahamas.

"All four grandparents of the bride-to-be were shepherds and shepherdesses."

Then we have Ellis Weiner's PATRIOTIC SPOT (60 SECS.) in the June 30 issue:

"You're waking up, America. It's morning -- and you're waking up to live life like it's never been lived before. Say hello to a whole new way of being awake, America. Say hello to us.

"Who are we? The idea people. A family of companies. America's supermarket. We're all this -- and more. All day, every day, something we do will touch your life. At home. At school. Whether you need us or not, we're there."

And how about James Stevenson's July 14 "Supreme court decision on GENETIC ENGINEERING CAUSES PATENT OFFICE BOOM: "Pat. 310,437,188. Breaks down components of Supreme Court decisions and turns them into usable crude oil.

"Pat. 740,039,251. By crossbreeding and fusing several strains of bacteria, it converts polyester into prune yogurt.

"Pat. 105,192,270. Blends ethylene glycol and fructose to make high speed burgers." Glossy, Glib and Gratified Three new ones:

PHOTOSHOW, The International Magazine of Photography and Ideas, is an 11-16-inch vibrantly printed bimonthly edited by Don Owens, the creator of the similarly sized Picture Magazine. This is must looking for anyone seriously interested in contemporary photography -- and even contains a few of the erotic pictures we shamelessly alluded to in our opening paragraph. (How else to describe a black cat contemplating a chocolate eclair in full color?) A year's subscription is $24 from 3818 Brunswick Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90039.

REVUE. You like hand-tinted portraits of Patti Hansen, the cowgirl with the blow dryer? Live for Charles Jourdan shoe ads photographed by Guy Bourdin? Consider hi-tech your tech? Find Interview magazine a little hard to read? Enjoy quotes like this:

"My idea of style," Exene declares, "is if when you walk down any street in any city in America and people make fun of you, then you know it's good."

What are you waiting for? Make out the check for $8 -- that's one dollar per issue, and don't ask why they only publish eight times a year. Mail it to 900 1/2 West Knoll Drive in -- you guessed it -- Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

VENTURE, The Magazine for Entrepreneurs, will introduce you to the likes of Howard Anderson, who convinced the FCC that what the California desert really needed was a radio station of its own, and Scott Bortz, who decided what this country, really needed was a soft bathtub, and a steady parade of people who have figured out ways to make themselves a legitimate buck in these inflationary times. It's $12 a year from Box 10771, Des Moines, Iowa, 50349. Drip-Dry Diversion Good Reads:

The July/August Wet, with a retrospective glimpse at its 24 previous issues of Gourmet Bathing and Beyond;

J. Tevere MacFadyen's glimpse at the future of civilization as we know it -- specifically the now-under-construction-in-Florida Experimental Prototype Community of the Future being built by Walt E. Disney Enterprises right next to Disneyworld -- in the July/August Next (with praise to Brian Zick's airbrush illustration of a Mouseketeer's cap atop a geodesic dome);

Southern Exposure's exhaustive look at the Ku Klux Klan in its summer issue ($4 by mail from Box 531, Durham, N.C. 27702);

American Cinematographer's June issue on the filming of "The Empire Strikes Back" ($2 from Box 2230, Hollywood, Calif. 90028);

Ron Rosenbaum's humorous (though unnecessarily first-person) account of the Anheuser-Busch raid on the Miller Lite Tavern in the July Inside Sports. (Frankly, we'd never use, drink, eat or even smell anything endorsed by Mickey Mantle.) Don't Get MAD, Get Even

Trouble-in-Paradise Department: GEO has effectively dumped managing editor Bob Christopher by assigning him to do preparatory work for a Japanese edition. The German owners of the magazine apparently were having trouble understanding how Christopher could spend so much money on stories and sell so few $4-a-copy magazines (227,000 a month here, versus the German circulation of 440,000). So they had one of those brilliant bits of insight that can only occur when covens of accountants hover over the bubbling cauldron: Why not use stories out of the German edition, with the same pictures and rewritten text for Americans?

The Germans are also looking for a new editor. They talked with Bill Garrett, the just-named new editor of National Geographic, which was like asking Jesse James to try to break into an abandoned summer bungalow in the middle of winter. They also asked Clay Felker, akin to asking Teddy Kennedy to become secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Those guys really know how to make a magazine great.

MAD Magazine has yanked the two pages of letters to the editor in the October issue, which is now a press. The magazine's substituted a mocking spoof of the disastrous MAD movie, "Up The Academy." Publisher Bill Gaines Decided on the auto-criticism route after receiving hundreds of letters knocking the magazine for selling out. Veteran MAD contributor Stan Hart created the unsigned parody oversight. The opening lines:

"Once upon a time there was a Publisher of a magazine. He was a happy man, publishing his magazine. But one day, he said, 'Wouldn't it be swell if they made a movie and my magazine sponsored it?! It would help sales! Isn't that a wonderful idea?' All his Yes-Men agreed that it was a wonderful idea, and so the smart people in Hollywood made a movie, and the magazine sponsored it. But did the Publisher live happily ever after? Not on your life! Because he overlooked one little thing while he was summoning up images of millions of people rushing to see the movie and then rushing to newsstands to buy his magazine. The thing he overlooked was to find out if the movie was any good."

Meanwhile, at Saturday Review, a small storm is welling up over the recent purchase by Bob Weingarten, one publisher of Financial World. Writers and artists are complaining that they're being asked to accept half-payments for work previously contracted and printed, and at least one supplier of the magazine says he's been offered 10 cents on every dollar he's owned.

"It's true that we made a deal regarding creditors before acquisition," Weingarten says, "but I'm not going to comment on the structure of that deal." Rumpelstiltskin's Revenge

To rectify a glaring omission in last month's magazine column: the wacko South American Explorer, the bimonthly journal of gonzo travel writing, is $10 annually from 2239 East Colfax, Denver, Colo. 80206.

The weekly Science Magazine celebrated its centennial with the July 4 issue, an excellent but highly technicaloverview of the sciences ($2 from 1515 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, D.C. 20005 . . . American Lawyer has completed a subscriber survey which reveals that its readers have a median age of 38, an average annual personal income of $70,619 and an average investment portfolio of $207,421, which just goes to prove that we all should have been lawyers . . . James Glassman has been named executive editor of the Washingtonian, although the appointment seems to bode little change in either editorial direction or the supremacy of editor Jack Limpert . . . Spencer Klaw, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, has replaced the ousted Bob Manoff as editor of the Columbia Journalism Review . . . Magazine ad revenue approached $1 billion for the first four months of 1980, up 14 percent over the same period last year.

And finally, the July issues of both Science 80 and Omni report that Dr. David Morrissey of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has managed to turn base metal into gold, using a huge particle accelerator to hurl carbon ions at -- get this -- bismuth instead of lead.

The only problem is that it takes $15 million in equipment to create one-billionth of a cent's worth of gold.

Which must mean something.