Cover sparks controversy
- Last Updated: 12:51 AM, May 11, 2012
- Posted: 12:20 AM, May 11, 2012
Time magazine, which is dealing with an ad slump and a dip in newsstand sales, has ignited a raging Internet controversy with its provocative cover shot of a hot, blonde mom breast-feeding her 3-year-old son.
The May 21 issue that started hitting newsstands just in time for Mother’s Day is meant to illustrate a story by Kate Pickert about the “attachment parenting” philosophy popularized by Dr. William Sears, a retired pediatrician who wrote the best-selling tome “The Baby Book.”
Attachment parenting, which encourages mom to be with their kids as much as possible, has come under attack in the past year from books such as Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”
“Buy our magazine. We’ll do anything,” wrote one blogger on Yahoo! in response to the cover treatment.
Others objected to the headline, “Are You Mom Enough?” — which to some implied that moms who did not breast-feed to 3 years and beyond were somehow unfit.
Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett, who tangled with Time’s Editor-In-Chief Rick Stengel about the cover on the talk show “Morning Joe,” said, “I looked at this and my first thought was, it’s a really cheap shot. It’s a piece about Bill Sears, it’s not about an attractive blonde woman breast feeding.
Time insiders apparently rejected the idea of putting Sears on the cover because, as one insider noted, “Nobody would recognize the retired 74-year-old pediatrician.”
Dylan Byers, writing on Politico.com yesterday, said, “Newsweek’s Tina Brown no longer has a monopoly on cover controversies.”
A spokesman for Newsweek, which covered attachment parenting in its Feb. 6 issue, said “When Tina saw the Time cover, she laughed and said, ‘Let the games begin.’ ”
Despite winning critical acclaim from its peers lately, there is no denying that Time is challenged on the ad front. According to Media Industry Newsletter, ad pages totaled 398 through its May 7 issue, a 20.2 percent drop from a year earlier. The smaller Newsweek, on the other hand, was up 20 percent to 246.8 pages.
Newsstand sales are not a huge part of Time’s mix since 3.2 million are subscribers and only an average of 76,555 were buying it on newsstands in the second half of last year. Yet, newsstand sales are still a barometer of how well a magazine is resonating with readers, and Time’ s fell 3.4 percent in the second half of 2011.
Naturally, Stengel is defending the cover choice and said that the Twitter traffic has been roughly evenly divided between people supporting the cover and those blasting it and said that the Twitter traffic has been roughly evenly divided between people supporting the cover and those blasting it.
“You want people to be having that conversation,” he said. “The idea of all magazine covers is to get people to pay attention to what is inside. This is a serious story about the debate of how people are raising their children.”
Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief, has come under fire for his latest cover on Marilyn Monroe, which promises to show the “Lost Nudes” from her last cover shoot by Lawrence Schiller.
Not so fast, said Playboy Editor-in-Chief Hugh Hefner, who said he published photos from her final shoot back in 1964.
On the Playboy website, it posted, “None of these nude photos were lost — in fact, they are in the Playboy photo archives, or have been previously published in Playboy.”
One of Monroe’s final acts had been to return a nude photo to Schiller. She had written, ‘Send this to Playboy, they might like it.’”
Sniped Playboy, “And, indeed, we did like it. So much, that we ran them 48 years ago, in our January 1964 issue, or again in January 2005. Sorry, Vanity Fair. Sometimes when something is too good to be true, it really is too good to be true. In the parlance of today: You got got.”
A Vanity Fair spokesperson said that while editors realize that some of the pictures previously appeared in Playboy — a fact mentioned deep in the article — there are quite a few that never were published.
The last time Marilyn was on a VF cover was in November 2010, when it was the second best-selling cover of that year. In the second half of 2011, the single-copy portion of VF’s 1.2 million total circulation plunged 20.4 percent to 323,946.