Media grandee and Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor-In-Chief Tina Brown, author of a best-selling biography of Princess Diana has put an image of Princess on the July 4 cover of Newsweek. The cover imagines what the Princess would look like at 50 and photoshops the Princess into a conversation with her daughter-in-law Kate Middleton.
Except for the failure of Talk magazine, Brown’s mix of celebrity, high-brow storytelling, celebrity, agenda-setting news, and more celebrity, has been hugely successful. But the cover image of Newsweek has gone down as well as a Mother-In-Law joke in a Royal Wedding speech.
Adam Clark Estes in The Atlantic Wire captured some of the reaction, “The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post ran brief posts and corresponding reader polls on the ‘jarring’ cover image. Nearly half of the L.A. Times readers polled find the image ‘horribly offensive,’ and 60 percent of HuffPost readers think it’s ‘a bit too much!’ Twitter, the 21st-century polling device seems to agree. The top trending tweet comes from Janice Turner, a columnist for The Times of London. She tweeted, ‘Astonishing. Why didn’t Newsweek just row to Althrop island, exhume & snap Diana’s rotted corpse?'”
While David Stablefod in The Cutline writes, “Newsweek even created a fake Facebook page and Twitter account in the magazine for the late Princess of Wales. Among her 107,623 Facebook friends: Camilla Parker Bowles (“Prince Charles likes this”). Sample status update: ‘Sitting with Beckhams front row at Burberry. Love the shoes!'”
And yet Tina Brown with this image has put Tina Brown and Newsweek back in the public limelight and conversation where it hasn’t been for a long time. Is this a tasteless, tacky, creepy image? Or is it just a highly creative cover for a “What if” piece of journalism? As a Designer or Art Director, would you have been happy or appalled with this cover?