News Twins

News Twins

ReagansWe are seeing double, again. Maybe it’s a minor thing, but have you been to the news stand in recent days? If so, you will notice that, once again, Newsweek and Time have the exact same covers. In their race to get the news of President Ronald Reagan’s death into print, both magazines chose the same photo for the cover. Of the millions of shots available of the former president, they both are compelled to use the same image.

Check out the New York Times story on this event. It isn’t the first time it has happened. In the article, the New York Times points out that twin covers were published when the Challenger accident occurred. I can remember when OJ was arrested: same thing. And it happened when we captured Saddam; the two magazines even had the same headline: “We Got Him.”

Now I’m not rushing to any judgments here, but isn’t it a little strange? I’m not suggesting conspiracy theories or anything, but what does it mean? Does it really say anything about where we get our news, or am I making a bigger deal out of it? It’s just got to irk the editors that, having the same world view, they continue to butt heads in such a way. Kinda hard to differentiate from your competitor, I’d say. Maybe that’s more the nature of mass market journalism–that when you’re aiming for lowest common denominator, lets’ say, you run into some problems. According to the Times story, the editors of the respective magazines suggest it’s no big deal. Bound to happen they say.

“This is not the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last,” said Jim Kelly, managing editor of Time.” According to the newspaper, the coincidence is likely to have little if any effect on the bottom line, since news stand sales count for very little; most of the printed copies are mailed to subscribers.

But I can’t leave it there. In an information world, where so much of who we are and what we do depends on the information that we have access to, it just leaves a taste in my mouth that modern day big media is a little too automatic; that it’s uninspired paint by numbers. I’m sure I’m going out there now, stretching my argument pretty thin. Someone reel me back in.