MEDIA Cosmo gets a wrap

Tired of getting complaints from blushing parents faced with racy women's magazines at the checkout counter, at least two grocery retailers are giving the publications the pornography treatment.

Last month, Big Y, a chain of 46 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, announced that it has covered all but the title of Cosmopolitan at the checkout counter, and has banished Glamour, Vogue, and Redbook to the magazine aisle. In January, the Kroger Co. became one of the first retailers to cover Cosmo at the checkout at its more than 2,300 stores nationwide.

Both chains received ongoing complaints about explicit text and photos, and both report an overwhelmingly positive response from customers (but not publishers) for their decisions. One parent wrote Big Y and told of her son reading a headline in the checkout line that read "Twice the Sex, Half the Foreplay" and asking, "Mommy what's foreplay?" Spokeswoman Claire D'Amour-Daley says Big Y may add more titles to the list, and is evaluating others by issue. This month's Elle was removed from some stores based on complaints.

'Gray lady' fields complaints

Now that The New York Times has a phone number and e-mail dedicated to complaints, how has the response been? "Not overwhelming," says senior editor Bill Borders, who adds that in its first few weeks a lot of responses have been skewed toward the violence in the Middle East and the political campaigns. Like many papers, the Times has recently sought ways to decrease errors and communicate better with readers. "The Times seems big and unapproachable and, dare I say, arrogant," says Mr. Borders. "Anything that chips away at that readers welcome, and so do we."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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