29 Jan A Click for Your Soul?
By: Erica Orthmann
As much as we’re in the business of grabbing interest and attention, this week’s Newsweek cover art for its story, What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women, crossed the line far into “lowest common denominator” territory. The truly sad part about this cover art is that the story behind it is intelligent, provocative and well-researched. In serving up an insulting, misogynist image, the Newsweek editorial team is pushing the message that intelligence no longer sells magazines. But making women the punchline of an ongoing joke does. The last thing women in tech need is another massive step backward just as we’re beginning to shake decades of stereotyping and old boys’ club narratives.
The merits of well-reported longform journalism should stand on their own. According to Neiman Journalism Lab, longform digital reporting is on the rise, which might sound surprising and even counterintuitive. As traditional print publications struggle to adapt to the online world, many resort to “if it bleeds, it leads” covers meant to grab eyeballs as people peruse the newsstand. The problem with such tactics is they ignore the fact that digital easily allows such images to be taken out of context. Smart publications like Aeon magazine manage to get plenty of traction from deep research, beautiful documentary video and fearless coverage of polarizing topics that truly matter to society.
Last night on Twitter, Megan Quinn, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, spoke out against the cover, joking “Go home, Newsweek, you’re drunk…” This visceral reaction to the cover actually prevented Quinn, one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, from reading the story itself. For better or worse, in the online world, context is everything.
Newsweek, instead of resorting to the fratboy jokes you’re calling out as the downfall of society in the actual written piece, think about how an image taken out of context can polarize half of the people who read your magazine. Is your soul worth a click if the people you want reading and sharing this story refuse to engage? I’d like to think you’re better than that.
This is my personal favorite reaction gif, tweeted by Newsweek’s editor-in-chief.
What do you think of Newsweek’s “upskirt” cover?