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What Time Magazine Thinks of America

 

How do you understand this?

Why do you think the editors at Time felt that everyone else in the world would consider the chaos in Egypt–apt, today, to result in a significant election victory for the Muslim Brotherhood–to be the most important story of the week, but that Americans would prefer to buy a magazine assuring them that anxiety is good for them?

You won’t satisfy me by telling me that Americans aren’t interested in the rest of the world right now because they’re too worried about the economy. Everyone else in the world is just as worried about the economy–the crisis, after all, being global.

There’s something odd happening in America, don’t you think? What does it mean?

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Members have made 40 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of John Marzan Inactive

    they’re probably protecting obama.

    • #1
    • November 28, 2011 at 4:41 am
  2. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    Couldn’t the same cover picture as Europe, Asia, and South Pacific be used with “Why Anxiety Is Good For You[?]”

    • #2
    • November 28, 2011 at 4:46 am
  3. Profile photo of Viator Member

    I second Marzan. They are protecting The One, hoping he can Tebow the election.

    • #3
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:13 am
  4. Profile photo of genferei Member

    You can scroll/search for the comparative covers here. The last time the US cover was the same as the rest of the world was when Hillary was on it.

    Here’s a recent one for Claire:

    Erdogan-s-Time.jpg

    • #4
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:14 am
  5. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Perhaps this says more about Time magazine’s editors than about the rest of the country? Even my doctors’ office doesn’t get Time.

    • #5
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:16 am
  6. Profile photo of Israel P. Member

     Do the cover articles appear in the issues where they are not the cover stories?

    • #6
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:18 am
  7. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Mama Toad: Perhaps this says more about Time magazine’s editors than about the rest of the country? Even my doctors’ office doesn’t get Time. · Nov 28 at 4:16am

    No one reads Time anymore.

    • #7
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:23 am
  8. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    Israel P.:  Do the cover articles appear in the issues where they are not the cover stories? · Nov 28 at 4:18am

    Judging by the covers, yes.

    • #8
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:26 am
  9. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    Paul A. Rahe
    Mama Toad: Perhaps this says more about Time magazine’s editors than about the rest of the country? Even my doctors’ office doesn’t get Time. · Nov 28 at 4:16am
    No one reads Time anymore. · Nov 28 at 4:23am

    Exactly my point!

    • #9
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:27 am
  10. Profile photo of Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Viator: I second Marzan. They are protecting The One, hoping he can Tebow the election. · Nov 28 at 4:13am

    Turks also thought the discrepancy in covers (when Erdogan was on the others) was a conspiracy. But I highly doubt it–in either case. Editors choose covers based on what they think will sell.  

    • #10
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:33 am
  11. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Viator: I second Marzan. They are protecting The One, hoping he can Tebow the election. · Nov 28 at 4:13am
    Turks also thought the discrepancy in covers (when Erdogan was on the others) was a conspiracy. But I highly doubt it–in either case. Editors choose covers based on what they think will sell.   · Nov 28 at 4:33am

    That means it is a conspiracy and your neighbors were right.

    • #11
    • November 28, 2011 at 5:59 am
  12. Profile photo of John Peabody Member

    Excellent, Claire! Exactly right- the covers have a very different target in the four markets. In the US, they are desperate (goodness knows, they’re desperate) for supermarket / newsstand sales. Overseas, they have to show themselves as a ‘serious’ magazine, and I bet that the have a larger subscription ratio, as well.

    No conspiracy, no drama…just good old-fashioned capitalism at work. “This is what capitalism looks like!”

    Excuse me, I must rush to the barricades…

    • #12
    • November 28, 2011 at 6:08 am
  13. Profile photo of Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Chimay: Excellent, Claire! Exactly right- the covers have a very different target in the four markets. In the US, they are desperate (goodness knows, they’re desperate) for supermarket / newsstand sales. Overseas, they have to show themselves as a ‘serious’ magazine, and I bet that the have a larger subscription ratio, as well.

    No conspiracy, no drama…just good old-fashioned capitalism at work. “This is what capitalism looks like!”

    Excuse me, I must rush to the barricades… · Nov 28 at 5:08am

    I don’t know about other markets, but I don’t think anyone subscribes to Time in Turkey–I think it’s exclusively newsstand sales. I say this tentatively, I don’t know it for a fact. 

    It would be fascinating to know more about this. 

    • #13
    • November 28, 2011 at 6:13 am
  14. Profile photo of Leslie Watkins Member

    It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a cult. Zombie reporters and editors.

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Viator: I second Marzan. They are protecting The One, hoping he can Tebow the election. · Nov 28 at 4:13am
    Turks also thought the discrepancy in covers (when Erdogan was on the others) was a conspiracy. But I highly doubt it–in either case. Editors choose covers based on what they think will sell.   · Nov 28 at 4:33am
    • #14
    • November 28, 2011 at 6:14 am
  15. Profile photo of genferei Member
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Chimay: In the US, they are desperate (goodness knows, they’re desperate) for supermarket / newsstand sales. Overseas, they have to show themselves as a ‘serious’ magazine, and I bet that the have a larger subscription ratio, as well· Nov 28 at 5:08am

    It would be fascinating to know more about this.  · Nov 28 at 5:13am

    Their ABC for the first half of 2011 is here (PDF). It seems to show 2.5% single copy (which I assume is newsstand) sales in that period, or about 84k/week on average. But with huge swings – as low as 50k in many weeks, but blockbuster editions on May 16 (Royal Wedding) and 20 (Death of Bin Laden).

    • #15
    • November 28, 2011 at 6:50 am
  16. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    Viator: I second Marzan. They are protecting The One, hoping he can Tebow the election. · Nov 28 at 4:13am
    Turks also thought the discrepancy in covers (when Erdogan was on the others) was a conspiracy. But I highly doubt it–in either case. Editors choose covers based on what they think will sell.   · Nov 28 at 4:33am

    Um, if they’re choosing based on what they think will sell, but Time’s subscriber base is shrinking, you’d think they’d fire the editor.  I second Paul Rahe, no one reads Time anymore.

    • #16
    • November 28, 2011 at 6:55 am
  17. Profile photo of Jeff Y Inactive

    Claire asks three questions. (1) How do you understand this? (2) There’s something odd happening in America, don’t you think? (3) What does it mean?

    (1) Americans will not tolerate the raw acquisition of facts. Everything must entertain. Everything must be therapeutic, unchallenging, somatic. News doesn’t’ sell in the USA. It does elsewhere.

    (2) Something odd has been happening in America for forty years. This oddity is merely culminating now. We see Newspeak in major publications. The covers were the same for this issue, too. Richard Stengler’s cover piece in that issue was classic Doublespeak. Sowell took it down. 

    Claire doubts there is a conspiracy. I doubt it, too. But remember, lots of people see the capitalist pricing system as a conspiracy. Just as there is an invisible hand (not a conspiracy) that guides prices, there is an invisible hand of tyranny that guides statist propaganda. It is coordinated, but not by a conspiracy. The propaganda of soft tyranny can be an emergent phenomena.

    (3) Americans buy it, in both senses of the word ‘buy.’ That’s a bad thing,

    • #17
    • November 28, 2011 at 7:18 am
  18. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member

    I second (or third or fourth) Marzan’s view. I interpret the Time cover to be saying “Stop worrying, and re-elect Obama! Everything will be fine!”

    • #18
    • November 28, 2011 at 7:30 am
  19. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    Jeff Y.:

    (1) Americans will not tolerate the raw acquisition of facts. Everything must entertain. Everything must be therapeutic, unchallenging, somatic. News doesn’t’ sell in the USA. It does elsewhere.

    It’s a common myth that we are uninterested in what’s happening across the globe, but in an age when global communications have given us instant contact with people on the other side of the world — a development that people are certainly taking advantage of — I just don’t think this myth holds true anymore.

    It’s not just that the rise of the internet has given us hundreds of instant “pen pals” all over the world, but also because over the last decade, Americans from every strata of society (but perhaps weighted to the lower end) have friends and relatives in the military stationed overseas in areas of conflict.

    • #19
    • November 28, 2011 at 7:40 am
  20. Profile photo of Anon Inactive

    The odd thing, Ms. Berlinski, is that the Time Magazine perspective is no longer odd.

    • #20
    • November 28, 2011 at 8:42 am
  21. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:  What does it mean? ·

    It means that everyone should, like me, quit subscribing to or reading Time.

    I was a 30+ year subscriber until about five years ago when I couldn’t take it anymore.  Luce rolls in his grave.

    • #21
    • November 28, 2011 at 9:06 am
  22. Profile photo of John Peabody Member

    “I was a 30+ year subscriber until about five years ago when I couldn’t take it anymore. Luce rolls in his grave.”

    I was a third-generation TIME subscriber until 20 years ago (including a European edition while I was stationed overseas). When I pick one up on the newsstand today, I laugh at it’s thinness. I have no doubt that the content is equally thin.

    • #22
    • November 28, 2011 at 9:17 am
  23. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    Chimay:

    I was a third-generation TIME subscriber until 20 years ago (including a European edition while I was stationed overseas). When I pick one up on the newsstand today, I laugh at it’s thinness. I have no doubt that the content is equally thin.

    “Thin as Obama’s resumé” in both page-count and content.

    • #23
    • November 28, 2011 at 9:27 am
  24. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    And then we have Newsweek; has anyone actually seen one recently?

    • #24
    • November 28, 2011 at 9:55 am
  25. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    tabula rasa: And then we have Newsweek; has anyone actually seen one recently?

    At the Dentist’s waiting room. It was likewise thin in both content and page-count.

    • #25
    • November 28, 2011 at 10:14 am
  26. Profile photo of Capt. Aubrey Member

     Now that I have my iPhone I don’t even read them in waiting rooms but it does seem more likely to me that Americans in general, perhaps because of having more choices, are more likely at the margins, to buy some fluffy, feel good article. Then again maybe its not more choices, maybe we’re just more interested in stupid, nonsense.

    • #26
    • November 28, 2011 at 10:26 am
  27. Profile photo of Robert E. Lee Member

    Some is still buying Time even if they aren’t reading it…they are still selling enough of them to get by.

    Many Americans are interested in facts beyond Hollywood, else websites like this wouldn’t exist.

    American media is interested in profit.  Period.  Entertainment sells, sex sells, violence sells, so many Americans buy.  The quality of information in mainstream media is incidental to its marketability.  Some Americans don’t know any better and some don’t care, but many Americans are actively seeking news through the web.  One problem is many seek confirmation of beliefs they already hold rather than keeping an open mind.

    • #27
    • November 28, 2011 at 10:46 am
  28. Profile photo of James Lileks Contributor

    More interested in stupid nonsense? Perhaps, but it’s not a recent development. Ever since the 20s the newsstands have been awash with spiced froth. The serious intentions of Time, Newsweek, et al may have been softened into a mush of boomer-flattery and received wisdom, but the magazines weren’t ubiquitous reads, even at their peak. Prior to TV, I’ll bet more people got their news from Life mag than Time. Life had bigger pictures. 

    Here’s a high-minded newsstand, from 1903. Nearly everything there would be unreadable to modern temperaments.

    • #28
    • November 28, 2011 at 11:03 am
  29. Profile photo of Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator
    James Lileks:

    Here’s a high-minded newsstand, from 1903. Nearly everything there would be unreadable to modern temperaments. 

    Can’t believe Knox gelatin once advertised itself with the slogan “Changes a prosy dinner into a poem”. Regrettable food, indeed.

    • #29
    • November 28, 2011 at 11:07 am
  30. Profile photo of John Mulder Member

    My guess is that in an effort to slow the slide in circulation, Time is trying to brand itself as a general intrest magazine, ceding the hard news niche to smaller publications like the Economist. For an overview of the state of the news weeklies, here is a nice chart:

    3-mags-essay-News-Magazines-Circulation1.png

    • #30
    • November 28, 2011 at 11:17 am
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