Conde Naste buries Putin story An investigation by NPR has exposed publisher Conde Nast’s attempts to bury a story from its GQ magazine on possible connections between Vladimir Putin, the KGB and a series of 1999 bombings officially blamed on Chechen separatists.

Conde Nast’s management ordered that the story could not be publicised in any way or posted on GQ’s website; that no copies of the US edition featuring the story be published or distributed in Russia, nor shown in any country to Russian government officials, journalists or advertisers; and that the article could not be run in any other Conde Nast magazines overseas.

GQ’s editors quietly defied the orders, publicising the article through a few news outlets anyway, where NPR picked up on the censorship angle and ran with it. Now Conde Nast are facing far more publicity for the article than it surely would have received had the story had run unsuppressed — and for all the wrong reasons.

The professional shit-stirrers at media gossip site Gawker immediately seized on the story, and engaged in an impressive piece of crowd-sourcing, putting scans of the entire article online and harnessing their readership to translate it into Russian, to be spread around the Russian blogosphere.

The story has now made The New York Times, but Conde Nast has so far refused to comment on its reasons for burying the piece, other than to say the company is “mindful of the laws and issues in the countries we publish in.” — Ruth Brown

India’s infectiously entertaining safe sex ad campaign. Two-and-half million people in India are HIV positive. But it is a subject people do not like to talk about. The stigma associated with the illness means there is a lack of understanding about the virus. So India’s health authorities are using catchy commercials to spread a “safe-s-x” message. Al Jazeera

Archbishop tells Triple J’s Father Bob to retire. Father Bob Maguire, the Catholic priest known for his work with the poor and no-nonsense media appearances, has been told to retire. Father Bob, as he is known, received a letter telling him he is close to the mandatory retirement age of 75 and will need to tender his resignation to the Catholic Church. Herald Sun

Opportunity in the decline of US regional papers. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are planning to introduce San Francisco Bay Area editions, hoping to win new readers and advertisers there by offering more local news, in what could be the first glimpse at a new strategy by national newspapers to capitalise on the contraction of regional papers. The New York Times

Berlusconi stands up for himself. As part of a counter-attack against his increasingly vociferous critics at home and abroad, Silvio Berlusconi is suing an Italian newspaper, L’Unita, for two million euros for libel after the paper ran articles claiming he suffered from er-ctile dysfunction and used Viagra. Telegraph

South African legislation a threat to media free speech. The newly signed Film and Publication Amendment Act has been slammed as “a grave intrusion” on freedom of expression in this country. The Freedom of Expression Institute said yesterday that it was “deeply disappointed” that the act had been signed into law. Independent Online

Germany’s Antiques Roadshow uncovers Nazis’ stolen masterpiece. After watching the show in November, a viewer from Munich called the local police to tell them that he thought he had seen some stolen art appear on the show. He had recognised a piece of art, valued at up to €100,000 that had once been stolen by the Nazis. The last known owner was most likely Adolf Hitler himself. Der Spiegel

Google’s book settlement offer threatens authors, publishers. As a commercial deal, it takes one’s breath away. Effectively it gives one company a stranglehold on mankind’s literary heritage. “If the settlement is approved,” writes Professor James Grimmelmann of New York Law School in his commentary on the case, “Google will have the closest thing to a universal library that the world has ever seen.” The Observer