Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bioterror Is Worry in the Syndicate Biz

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bioterror Is Worry in the Syndicate Biz

Article excerpt

Tighter security measures put into place for feature submissions, fan mail, and hate mail as response to national anthrax anxiety

Syndicates, cartoonists, and columnists are looking very carefully at their mail these days. They're hoping that envelopes containing feature submissions, fan letters, or angry messages don't also contain anthrax. And, in some cases, they'd rather not talk to the media about specific precautions they or their mailrooms may be taking.

At New York-based United Media, for instance,

Senior Vice President and General Manager Sid Goldberg said, "We're following the procedures recommended by the police. We may also have other procedures, but we don't want to detail them because that would diminish our security."

United, like other major syndicates, receives thousands of feature submissions a year from people -- many total strangers -- who want distribution to newspapers.

Two high-profile columnists, citing concerns for the safety of themselves or their staffers, declined to speak on the record about how they're dealing with snail-mail. Said one: "I'm reluctant to talk about whether I have procedures or not because, in the current environment, it might encourage someone to circumvent them."

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsman also declined to talk about mail-safety measures that might be in place at Newsday, based close to Manhattan in Melville, N.Y. But the Tribune Media Services creator did note: "For years, I've opened all kinds of mail from people who didn't put a return address on the envelope. …

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