Does Time Magazine Think Americans Are Stupid?

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 10 2012 12:33 PM

Does Time Magazine Think Americans Are Stupid?

timecovers

You may notice something striking about this week’s American edition of Time magazine.

While readers in Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific—really, the rest of the Time-reading world—confront a serious profile about Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and his role in the euro crisis, Americans are in for a special treat: a cover story called “The Surprising Science of Animal Friendships*.” (The asterisk leads to a footnote at the bottom of the cover that says, “BFFs are not just for humans anymore.”) With not one but two adorable dogs against a hot-pink background, this week’s Time really signifies the editors’ staunch commitment to serious, hard-hitting journalism, even if it means risking unpopularity.

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Sarcasm aside: This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, Time faced ridicule for giving the rest of the world a cover story on the Arab protests while feeding Americans a cartoon cover about “Why Anxiety Is Good For You” only two months ago.

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Time’s conviction that Americans only want to read feel-good puff pieces appears to be far stronger than any desire on the publisher’s part to sell itself as an important U.S. news source.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

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