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A Crowded Field of 'Best College' Guides


College-bound students (and their parents) can amass a mini-library of new publications to aid them in the search.

Money's September issue ($3.50) contains the magazine's 1997 college guide, including what it considers the 50 best values in New England and the mid-Atlantic region.

Time has joined with the Princeton Review to bring out "The Best College for You," a $6 magazine-sized guide that went on sale this week. Besides offering a directory of more than 1,200 colleges, the publication comes with a CD-ROM containing applications to about 500 schools.

Newsweek has teamed with the Kaplan Educational Centers to produce "How to Get Into College," another $6 admissions guide that copies the newsweekly's format with its stories about financial aid and choosing the right school.

The 1997 edition of "The Fiske Guide to Colleges," written by Edward B. Fiske, the former education editor of the New York Times, assesses 300 of what are called "the best and most interesting colleges" and lists 42 "best buys." The guide is published by Times Books and costs $19.

Long Island Glee: When Russ Smith returned to visit his native Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island about two years ago, the editor was surprised by what he saw.

"Huntington used to be a sleepy town," he recalled, "but the whole area was filled with clubs and movie theaters and restaurants--exactly the kind of market that a paper like mine thrives on."

And so the New York Press, a freebie tabloid of which Smith is the majority owner and editor, plans to follow the Village Voice in a bid for young Long Island readers. The Voice confirmed last week that it hopes to launch a Long Island edition in the first half of next year, and Smith stated this week that the Press will have its own Island-based staff in place to produce a local edition by February 1998.

It should be interesting--an eastern front in New York's war between the alternative papers. The upstart Press, circulation 100,000, frequently tweaks the Voice as part of its own irreverent coverage of politics, sexual mores and the cultural scene. At the cranky Voice, circulation has risen to more than 200,000 since it switched to free circulation in Manhattan four months ago.

Voice Publisher David Schneiderman has said of the Press: "They aren't playing in our league and never will be as they are incapable of producing a quality newspaper."

"Our line is that the Voice is a dinosaur, an ossified product, utterly predictable," Smith said. "You know that their endorsement of Ralph Nader for president is right around the corner."

Indeed, four decades after the Voice was founded in Greenwich Village by a group that included the novelist Norman Mailer, the weekly's progressive-liberal politics and muckraking journalism may strike some in the younger generation of readers as strident. At the same time, the owner of the paper that called this month's Republican National Convention "The Star-Strangled Bummer" is supreme capitalist Leonard N. Stern, the developer and chairman of Hartz Mountain Industries.

Stern bought the L.A. Weekly in 1994, and last fall launched the free O.C. Weekly in Orange County, which with the Voice gives Stern Publishing a three-paper, bicoastal buy for national advertisers.


Afterwords: It was bound to happen--a spoof of Wired magazine. Called "re(GT)WIRED" and looking like the candy-colored original, the parody is written by Tom Connor and Jim Downey (of "Is Martha Stuart Living" fame) and published by HarperPerennial. The cover story is "How to Pick up NetChicks" by "Bill Gates IV." . . .

Barbara A. Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat, is the latest U. S. senator trying a hand at fiction. She has coauthored "Capitol Offense" (Dutton) with Marylouise Oates, a former Los Angeles Times columnist. The mystery novel kicks off a series involving, yes, a female senator and Washington politics.

* Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday. His column is published Thursdays.

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