Magazines work just like other forms of media, in that they must grab their readers' attention in order to ensure that they can secure a strong and hooked audience. This has always been the case, ever since mass media first surfaced, as moguls tried to sell their products.
In the modern age it has become even more important for the likes of magazines and newspapers to interest their audience more effectively, with the rise of social media and the internet shrinking their market significantly. No longer do people have to rely on daily prints or weekly periodicals to find out what is going on in the world. Instead, they can access a world of information with just a few clicks on a smartphone or computer. So the process of gaining the attention of a reader has become all the more important for magazines.
While newspapers might have thought-provoking or shocking headlines to engage a reader, magazines will often use a striking image on their front cover. These can range from shocking photographs, insensitive cartoons or just downright provocative pictures. Whatever the case, magazines have come up with a variety of controversial front covers over the years, as they battle to catch a reader’s eye. Some are contentious because of the horrifying story that they tell, while others are condemned for their apparent endorsement of divisive figures. Of course, there are also other reasons why a cover could be considered controversial, something that this article will attempt to examine.
10 Life – Vietnam War Cover
9 Wired – Edward Snowden
8 Vanity Fair – Demi Moore
7 Rolling Stone – Britney Spears
6 Time – Hitler as Man of the Year
5 National Lampoon – Dog Threat
4 Hustler – Women as Meat
3 Time – O.J. Simpson
2 The New Yorker – Barack and Michelle Obama
1 Rolling Stone – The Bomber
Following the tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon in 2013, where two bombs killed three people and seriously injured hundreds more, Rolling Stone magazine featured a picture of one of the two prime suspects on its front cover. The photograph was one that had been shared on the internet after the attack and had originally been posted online by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev himself. The cover attracted widespread anger and criticism, due to the anguish the man had caused. Others felt it wrong that Tsarnaev should feature prominently on a magazine, something that is usually considered an honor, and worried that others may imitate him to get fame and recognition.
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, gigwise.com, nytimes.com, rollingstone.com
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