While B&W toils upstairs in Lerner, the staff of Spectator is taking their own turn at the West End, following their annual Blue Pencil Dinner and Lecture. After the elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen of the 130th and 131st managing boards filed out from behind Low Rotunda’s back curtain (having been feted on the company dime with high rolling alumni), the current Spectator pantheon arrayed itself on the dais behind retired Editor in Chief Steve Moncada, who gave a brief State of Spectator address.
Just so you know, the State of Spectator is great. The paper has turned a profit for the first time since going broadsheet, remained the “most popular extracurricular activity at Columbia,” and started a “huge success” of a weekly magazine. Lehman-bound Moncada encouraged the new guard to aggressively develop web content, which may involve “freeing ourselves from the handcuffs of Viacom’s CollegePublisher.” Yes! Fight the man!
This year’s speaker has also been hugely successful with her weekly magazine. Janice Min, Journalism ’90, is the youthful Editor-in-Chief of US Weekly, where she’s presided over a 2/3 jump in subscription numbers and some of the best Britney coverage in the nation (Min mentioned Spears at least 6 times in her 30-minute speech).
“Some of you may not approve of my particular corner of journalism,” Min started out, before embarking on an eloquent defense of celebrity gossip rags. While acknowledging the argument that her media genre may have contributed to the dumbing down of society, she pointed out that much of educated America spends more time decrying the tabloidization of the country than “the actions of a reckless administration.” Paris Hilton didn’t start any wars, you know.
Besides, it’s business, Min said. Entertainment in America is a $29 billion industry, and it makes sense to cover the titans in Hollywood as rigorously as we cover steroid scandals in sports or campaign finance reform.
“There does not seem to be a limit to what certain celebrities will do, and what the public–all of you in here included–will watch,” Min said. Even if it ends up in the National Enquirer.