David Enberg

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It isn't merely America's obsession with celebrity scandals that's revving magazine sales and ad revenue at American Media's The National Enquirer, Star, Globe and Spanish-language Mira! weekly tabloids, says David Enberg, who heads sales for the four publications.

Ironically, it's honesty and discipline that have fueled the company's stellar success over the last couple of years, claims Mr. Enberg, 43, who arrived in 2000 as associate publisher and last year was promoted to VP-publisher, corporate sales.

"Consumers are smart," he says. "They don't want to be lied to or misled, and we understand that. They also want the details, the full story and the photos," he adds with undisguised relish.

While the magazine industry slumped last year, ad pages for the Enquirer and Star were up by more than 20% in 2001, according to Publishers Information Bureau. The trend has continued into 2002, with Enquirer ad pages up 20.5% through August, vs. a year ago, and Star pages up 29.58%. Circulation also has risen incrementally.

In a media segment that has historically endured a certain amount of scorn, The National Enquirer and Star also have earned kudos over the past couple years from national newspapers and magazines for consistently breaking top stories about celebrities and political figures that other publications have been forced to follow.

Examples include exposing payoffs and scandals surrounding the pardons President Clinton granted in his final hours in office, as well as the infidelity of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Under Mr. Enberg, American Media bucked the industry by increasing the folio size of the Enquirer and Star last year to 60 from 48 pages, while bumping the cover price up to $2.09 from $1.49 over three years.

Advertisers have piled in, persuaded by the company's mantra that with 82% of American Media's titles sold at retail, consumers are exponentially more involved in the product than in magazines that arrive in the mail.

"People reach for our magazines in the supermarket checkout lines, primed to read them, which is a far different dynamic than a passive subscriber," Mr. Enberg says.