Travel journalism changed forever three years ago on Sept. 11, says Nancy Novogrod, editor in chief of Travel & Leisure and senior VP-editorial director of the entire American Express Publishing Corp. Nancy, Publisher Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio and I lunched the other day at DB Bistro. "Ever since then, T&L [which she says is the largest in the category with a circ of 950,000] has been telling our readers not only the best places to go but the safest. And those less safe or not safe at all." Does she get this info from the State Dept.? "We get their reports, and we also have our own sources." Ellen says despite terrorism and other travel woes, T&L is doing well. A slow start to the year (they're off about 3% in ad pages) suddenly turned around, and the last three months have been among the best in the monthly's history both in pages and dollars. T&L is 9% ahead for those months over 2004. In the competitive year to date race, T&L sold 1,005 pages against Conde Nast Traveler's 896 pages YTD. T&L has big promo plans for next year, 35 years since American Express launched it, strictly for cardholders, and later expanded it from controlled circ to the real thing. As you know, Time Inc. now partners with AmEx in putting out T&L, as well as Travel & Leisure Golf and Departures, both of which Nancy oversees editorially. Do T&L writers ever freeload? "They travel incognito wherever possible and do not take press trips or accept free travel of any kind." On leaving the restaurant I encountered Nancy's boss, Ed Kelly, strolling past, and assured him Nancy got the tab.
Maureen Dowd's eulogy of her 97-year-old mother Peggy was elegant stuff. Ran in The New York Times July 24, a week after Peggy died.
Nifty Kurt Andersen column in New York magazine on recent think tank (Bill Clinton and lots of tycoons) put on by Walter Isaacson's Aspen Institute and the Atlantic Monthly. Kurt's last grafs may not please the current White House.
There's Always a Silver Lining Dept.: Tom Blair sends along the August Golf Digest with its piece on "golf in Iraq," by Dave Kindred. He reports combat engineer Lt. Aaron Isaacson and other GI's hit golf balls from their bunker into a cockpit of an abandoned Iraqi jet. They play mostly at night, for security purposes, and have one club, a 9-iron named "Otis."
Jason Binn's Niche Media sends out a slick four-color mailing about recent press mentions in Newsweek, WWD, Capitol File, etc., under the heading, "Niche Media is National News." I doubt that they'll be including a recent New York Times mention by Campbell Robertson. The polo matches were on in the Hamptons and in the VIP tent, Mr. Binn was asking Woody Harrelson if he needed anything, "e-mail ... phone ... a helicopter, a car, a place, anything, just call." Said Mr. Harrelson, "I need a beer." Mr. Binn was identified by the Times as the "publisher of Hamptons magazine ... and the East End's concierge to the stars."