26 November 2011

The covers of TIME magazine

At the TIME magazine website, you can simultaneously view the covers of the U.S. and three overseas editions of the magazine.  Shown above is the current issue.  If you keep clicking the "previous issue" button, you can find other examples of nonuniformity, some of them predictable, such as this one that did not feature Tintin:

Obviously, TIME alters its cover based on what the editors believe will be of interest to Americans.  Nothing improper about that per se, but it does say something about Americans.   For example:

Via Reddit, where interesting additional examples are noted here and here and here and here...


  1. It would be silly to look at this specific publication and use it to make a blanket statement about America. Sadly it is not a unique example. This really is symptomatic of a problem that people outside the US have been commenting on for decades. Americans who live abroad for any period of time give testament to how inward-looking they realize their lives in the US had been.

    When you look at Herman Cain and other (mainly conservative) politicians you can sense the disdain that a sizeable proportion of middle America and particularly the Evangelicals feel for "communist" Europe and the muslim Middle East. Not all Americans are insular and not all Europeans are enlightened, but our media, national discourses, and political systems sure make it seem that way.

  2. Oh, I quite agree. This doesn't say anything at all about "all Americans." If anything, it's a reflection of what some people think about Americans (and in particular, what some Americans think of other Americans).

    (and it's a bit awkward and incorrect to use the broad term "American" when referring just to residents of the United States.)

  3. The cover of Time Magazine doesn't say anything about Americans, it is only telling of what Time Magazine thinks of Americans.

    Blame the concentration of media into the hands of fewer and fewer individuals. Americans consume crappy media because, for a long time, that was the only media that was there, and the few people that control the national discourse are crappy and suck. It's only recently that they've even had access to non-American media, and they only have access to it if they realize it exists and are driven by something to go and look for it.

    Those few people have worked very hard to ensure Americans are not well-informed individuals. They aren't stupid, just ignorant, and that's only because they have a power structure that is dependent on an uninformed or misinformed mass, and they have individuals in power determined to keep it that way.

  4. It would seem to suggest that the publishers of Time believe that Americans are not particularly interested in the rest of the world...except perhaps as it applies to our troops. While I suspect they may be somewhat correct, It becomes a self-fulfilling feedback loop.

  5. By navigating through the covers, it's easy to see that the American covers almost never highlight things going on at other places of the globe, except when there's some link to the USA (like drugs in Mexico). On average, the overseas versions are more dramatic, while the American ones are more optimistic. I wonder how much the Americans are missing with their media acting this way, being kept on their own bubble.

    I ask: why can't the overseas versions be as regionalized as the American ones? Since the editorial decisions for all versions are probably made in America, maybe they're forcing an agenda on Asia, Europe and South Pacific?

    As an adendum, I'm Brazilian and some people here avoid the word Americano (American) to refere to those born in the USA. There's even an awful neologism, Estadunidense (which would translate as Unitedstatesian). We've been taught at school that the name America stands for thw whole continent. But I understand that the name of your country is America, just like Brazil is the name of the Brazilian Federative Republic (and it once was United States of Brazil...).


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