The lesson from this Sunday's Miami Herald may be that if you live in New York, you probably shouldn't throw stones at Miami.
The New York Times Magazine of Sunday, July 19, featured a cover story whose headline asked, "Can Miami Save Itself?" and then answered: "A City Beset by Drugs and Violence."
To retaliate, The Herald sent columnist Dave Barry to New York. He came back with a cover story for Aug. 30 that asks, "Can New York Save Itself?" and then answers: "A City Beset by Garbage and Yuppies."
Barry explains to readers that even though The Times' headline seemed negative toward his home base, the story by Robert Sherrill "was more balanced, discussing the pluses as well as the minuses of life in South Florida, as follows:
"MINUSES: The area is rampant with violent crime and poverty and political extremism and drugs and corruption and ethnic hatred.
"PLUSES: Voodoo is legal."
Barry writes that although he considered the assessment "pretty fair," Miami's establishment "reacted to it with their usual level of cool maturity, similar to the way Moe reacts when he is poked in the eyeballs by Larry and Curly." Such news was ancient history, since "we haven't had a riot for, what, months now ... "
So Barry and a photographer spent three days in New York to see if life is better for local readers of The Times (many of whom also read The Herald when they go south for the winter).
He describes a taxi ride "where the driver slows to 125 miles per hour so he can take better aim at wheelchair occupants."
His "medium-priced" hotel room runs $135 per night, "plus your state tax, your city tax, your occupancy tax, your head tax, your body tax, your soap tax, your ice bucket tax, your in-room dirty movies tax and your piece of paper that says your toilet is sanitized for your protection tax, which bring the rate to $367.90 per night, or a flat $4,000 if you use the telephone."
Times Square rates as "the cultural groin of the Big Apple," where "patrons may view films such as Sex Aliens ... in comfortable refrigerated theaters where everybody sits about 15 feet apart."
The major industry is "people from New Jersey paying $45 each to see 'A Chorus Line.' "
The subway? It's a place with "an annual maintenance budget of $8, currently stolen."
The Times story on Miami made news outside the Sunshine State in part because of a photograph that was identified as a drug bust but was really an advertisement for Westinghouse radar. The Times, of course, ran a clarification, but that was no reason to drop the issue in Miami.
A cover photo for The Herald's Sunday magazine that shows a garbage barge parked in New York harbor bears the credit line: "Cover photograph faked by Chuck Fadley."
Inside is a subway picture with the caption: "Smart New York subway riders carry two guns, in case one is stolen. (Note: This photograph was originally used in an advertisement for Westinghouse radar)."
In case that's missed, the joke is repeated for a dog photo on the next page: "A dog sits on a car, in a photograph that originally appeared in an advertisement for Westinghouse radar."
Asked about the story, Times Sunday Magazine deputy editor Martin Arnold said, "Very amusing."
The Soviet Supplement In the past -- before glasnost -- the Soviet Union attacked The Wall Street Journal as the "organ of monopoly capital." The Journal, whose editorial pages have lamented that even calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire" is not enough, has raised the question recently that the new openness "may be little more than an elaborate con job played on the West."
But bygones are apparently bygones -- at least as far as the advertising department of The Journal and the Foreign Trade Ministry of the Soviet Union are concerned. This week The Journal published a nine-page, $300,000 advertising supplement from the Soviets in about 950,000 papers.
Dan Cates, who is in charge of getting international advertising for Dow Jones, which owns the paper, said that during Soviet-Journal talks about the ads, the Journal's editorial policy was mentioned "not once, although I'm sure they were aware of it."
"I was very cordially received," Cates said of his two visits to Moscow in December and May. He said the Soviets, who have not advertised in a U.S. publication for about a dozen years, said they were also courted by advertising people from Forbes, Fortune and Business Week. "But the Soviets are quite intelligent and they picked the best of the lot," he said.
Cates said that because the supplement -- selling furs, tractors and ice drills, among other things -- was limited to The Journal's editions in Asia, Europe and the eastern United States, most complaints have been from people elsewhere who had not received the Soviet advertising.
Any angry conservatives worried that The Journal may be slipping into the journalistic equivalent of de'tente?
"We've had two calls so far ... from people who said we shouldn't have taken it," said Cates, adding that he figures the ad went to about 3 million readers.
Networking at The New Republic The New Republic's latest advertising gimmick has at least a few of its writers hiding under their desks.
The promo, printed in such magazines as the World Press Review, features photos of senior editors Morton Kondracke, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer appearing on various television shows.
The headline says: "Tune in every week ... to The New Republic." Explaining that the magazine's staffers "are often featured on news shows and discussion programs," the ad then asks readers to wonder why this is so.
The answer: "Because their savvy, up-to-the-minute assessments of current issues are demanded by the shows on the cutting edge of the news."
There is no mention of the possibility that working at The New Republic is not exactly like working for Kidder Peabody, and that maybe some of them do it for -- among other reasons -- the money.
A more immediate irony may be that the latest issue has an article by Fred Barnes complaining about how members of the congressional Iran-contra committees were too quick to take their stories to the television cameras.
The Spectator's Sport The American Spectator's September issue features an article by ABC News correspondent Brit Hume, also on the members of the committees.
It'sa straightforward enough story, but in the tradition of smaller publications that aim for larger impact, the headline screams that it's about "Ollie North and the Fools on the Hill."
Hume, who covers Congress and will have to go back and interview those very same people after the August recess, said he was a little surprised, "but maybe it will encourage people to read the piece."
"Actually, I didn't have any complaint to make about it, and you never can tell what gets the best response from those guys over there," he said. "You can be nice and they never return your calls.