Magazines Wage War

One of the most influential powers of the magazine business is the ability to shock people. Not only will being able to shock people ensure sales, but it will also cause nation-wide debate. And the latest Time cover has done just that.

Featuring a woman breastfeeding her 4-year-old son, this magazine cover sparked reaction from both parents and non-parents alike. The magazine has received criticism for this shocking and “inappropriate” image.

This shocking image also did great things for the magazine financially. A Time spokeswoman also said the breast-feeding cover was its best-selling issue this year, and Time doubled the number of editions typically sold in a week. On the day after the cover appeared, terms related to the cover were four out of the top five searches on Google. In the following eight days, the cover was mentioned 50,000 times on Twitter and the Time’s Twitter account gained many followers.

With magazine sales on a steady decline, the use of provocative covers has become more and more important to photography editors. A testament to this is the recent spew of controversial covers. The Time cover was one out of a recent three, the other two belonging to  and Bloomberg’s Businessweek. Newsweek featured Obama with a rainbow halo on top of his head with the headline “The First Gay President” and Bloomberg Businessweek showed a Continental Airlines plane on top of a United Airlines plane with the title “Let’s Get It On.”

Time has a history of publishing controversial covers, for some of which they have issued apologies. In 1994, the magazine again received criticism when they posted a darkened image of O.J. Simpson’s mug shot while he was on trial for murdering his wife. People argued that the cover was racist and that the photo was manipulated to appear more menacing.

On April 14th, 1997, a cover that revealing that Ellen DeGeneres was gay caused many TV outlets to pull her talk show from the air.

 The most controversial cover of Time Magazine, however, came on April l8th of 1966. The cover story was entitled ‘Is God Dead?’ This cover caused the magazine to receive the highest number of letters to this day.

Many believe that with the battle being waged by print media to stay alive against the new challenge from online journalists, bloggers, and various types of news websites, we can expect them to get even more extreme in their cover photos in order to continue to draw readers.