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Paper Monitor (US edition)

16:37 UK time, Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

An innocent abroad. That's what Paper Monitor is in New York, having tagged along with the bods chosen to pick up the BBC News website's Webby Award.

papermonitorscoffee.jpgSo it's fortunate that Flight of the Conchords was part of the in-flight entertainment, with an episode in which Kiwi musicians Brett and Jermaine get some valuable tips on negotiating the mean streets of the Big Apple. So Paper Monitor is now wearing a hi-vis belt, carrying an unfolded map at all times, and is avoiding crowds in favour of back alleys, all the better to avoid muggers.

And so to the papers. The Onion, which Paper Monitor has previously only perused in its online guise, is dispensed in paper form from the street-corner boxes familiar from the movies. Eager to read more on the promised feature "Where [John McCain]'d Be If Not Running For President: Dead" and tickled by the weather forecast for snow - "somewhere in the world, snow is falling", Paper Monitor pounces. All copies gone, to be replaced with discarded taco wrappers. That, surely, is a comment on the transitory nature of news.

Stepping from the heat of the city streets to the cool of a neighbourhood deli, Paper Monitor pays its money for a cawfee and copies of the New York Post and New York Times.

Boy, Americans sure use words. Lots of 'em. Portions are big on this side of the Atlantic. The broadsheet Times (or is it closer to a Berliner format?) packs its front page with six articles, one picture story - on the sweltering and near-record breaking weather - and a dozen puffboxes trailing what's inside. Such as on the Sports pages. Not the Sport pages, as these are always known by Fleet Street's finest. And pages two and three are largely taken up with more summaries of "what's in today's edition".

The tabloid Post, too, doesn't mince its word count. It starts with an A* effort at a poster front page - "ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES - DISEASE FEARS SPUR CRISIS FOR BURGER LOVERS" on the news that McDonald's et al are serving tomato-less burgers because of a salmonella scare - but each news page has more text than the Sun, Daily Mirror and Star combined.

But for all the differences, some things remain the same. It's hot here, crazy hot, with the mercury hitting 33C. And that means to picture editors across the world that it is time to send out the snappers with an easy brief: find a young lady, in a bikini, cooling off. The Post has an obligatory blonde in a halter top standing in front of a super-size fan. The Times is a little more coy, having its bikini-clad lovelies as the out-of-focus backdrop to a single, naked foot peeking above the waters of a beach in the Bronx.

Whew. Hot enough for you? Paper Monitor is off now to seek a cool breeze on Brooklyn Bridge's raised walkway.

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