Struggling Newsweek Magazine has created quite a controversy with its “Queen of Rage” headline and wild-eyed cover photo of Michele Bachman.
That’s the point.
Not politics. It's not news that Newsweek and sister blog The Daily Beast are run by liberals. But this in itself makes no profit. What keeps editor-in-chief Tina Brown up at night is not defeating Michele Bachman or destroying conservative women. Her problem is how to sell enough advertising next week to keep her ever-thinning rice-paper rag from finally sinking into oblivion.
In the Internet era, Newsweek’s strategy is to earn commercial relevance not by covering news, but by becoming news. And they’ll do that with magazine covers that create outrage. Or what passes for outrage in a gamed society where other people and institutions manufacture outrage so they can get in the news, too.
That’s why the magazine ran a fake photo of a 50-year-old Botoxed Princess Diana walking alongside of with Kate Middleton. Next week Newsweek might have a cover shot of John McCain French-kissing a snake. Or Michael Jackson’s ghost hovering over a little kid’s bed. President Obama falling off a cliff. Maybe a pregnant Boy Scout.
Whatever gets people talking about what people are talking about. That’s how you leverage today’s churning grist mill of Internet-driven news, infotainment, social media, talk radio and opinion TV.
Even when everyone knows their chain is being deliberately yanked.
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