When The Cover Is The Story

Jill Filipovic suggests that the Rolling Stone gaffe that has fact-checkers around the world snickering shows just how much magazine covers still matter:

Some of us still buy print magazines, but ever more of us are reading the articles on tablets or laptops instead. And the volume of accessible content online far exceeds that at your local newsstand or grocery store checkout. And yet, despite such an enormous quantity of high-quality, cover-worthy imagery, the photos on the covers we can actually hold in our hands are what become online content fodder.

That scarcity may actually be the point. There’s not a widely read website in Internet-town that keeps the same photo on the front page for more than a day, let alone a week or a month. Magazine real estate may be rendered more valuable by virtue of the fact that it’s more permanent – if you have a hard copy of a magazine you can store it away without the fear that you might go to read it one day and find an “Error: Page Unknown” message. And although fewer people may purchase a copy of Rolling Stone over the course of a month than click over to the homepage of a popular website, the eyes on a magazine cover may be more valuable than those on a quickly changing web page.

Even if you only look at magazine covers while waiting to check out at Walgreens or getting your nails done, your eyes are settling on a small handful of options, making each of them resonate more strongly than the hundreds of pictures in your 15 open browser tabs.

By the way, Julia Louis-Dreyfus set the record straight via Twitter: