I’ve pretty much given up on my campaign to mock and/or eliminate Parade Magazine. It’s an embarrassing publication that no self-respecting American newspaper should include, but it’s not worth the time to regularly dissect its inanity. Particularly when it can embarrass itself so well.
This morning’s Parade Magazine (January 6th, 2008) cover article is on Benazir Bhutto — a refreshingly newsworthy subject for the magazine. After all, Bhutto was assassinated on December 27th, and her death has brought new concerns about the future of Pakistan and the region.
However, the cover headline asks an unsettling question: “Is Benazir Bhutto America’s best hope against al-Qaeda?”
Gosh, I hope not. Considering she died ten days ago.
The article by Gail Sheehy was written before the assassination. That’s okay. But the printed version makes no clarification whatsoever about what’s happened in the meantime: in Parade-land, Bhutto is still alive, racing towards the election. She’s our best hope!
Obviously, Parade is printed in advance. From the website: “The assassination of Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto on Dec. 27 occurred after PARADE’s Jan. 6 issue went to press.”
But does Parade really need to be printed ten days in advance? Did the editors spend the last week and a half sitting on their hands, hoping their average reader would be so clueless to world events so as not to notice that the subject of their lead article was gunned down for the world to see? (Sadly, the editors’ gamble may be reasonable.)
The web enables print media to amend and expand their reporting, which Parade did to some degree. From the site: “After her assassination, PARADE immediately posted the entire interview online,” which is a great start, but then, “and Sheehy appeared on network and cable TV news shows to discuss her face-to-face conversations with Bhutto.”
So you put your journalist on television to talk about the interview, but then declined to frame the article in context for your publication?
I’ve worked in media enough to know that nothing is impossible. They could have fixed the cover. They could have added an introductory paragraph pointing readers to the web for more information. And failing that, they could have wrapped the issue with an explanatory note.
But they would have only done that if they were an actual news publication, rather than a crappy info-tainment tabloid pretending to be one.
My beef about their “long lead time” excuse is that the insert is included in daily newspapers across the country, which creates the expectation that it’s at least somewhat timely. Which it’s not.
And so the onus really falls on newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, which need to be proactive about how they’re going handle such errors. After all, the printed copy of Parade says “Los Angeles Times” at the top, in the newspaper’s logotype. In simple fact, the January 6th, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times says Benazir Bhutto is still alive. That’s embarrassing.
Update: I’m delighted to find I’m not the only one aggravated.