Are we ‘shallow dolts?’

Dan Gillmor, with whom I’m to share space on a blogging panel in MPR’s UBS Forum soon, says today “American Media Treats Americans Like Shallow Dolts.” He concludes this by comparing the covers of Time Magazine this week.

Gillmor writes the Center for Citizen Media blog and, as such, he has exhibited a general distaste for mainstream media as apparently required by the standards of blogging. He says Americans won’t buy magazines with thoughtful articles on Hong Kong, preferring instead to delve into the complications of romance.

Here’s the covers of this week’s Time.

time_us.jpg time_intnl.jpg
U.S. edition International edition

Gillmor believes an article on how we love is less important than an article on Hong Kong. But is it?

Do we have an inferiority complex they haven’t told us about?

Update 2:30 p.m. Looking back at the beginning of December, I find another case of a different cover for an international edition.

In the U.S., it was about what makes us good or evil. But in Europe, the cover focused on a much more important topic in today’s world: the death of French culture.

time_goodevil.jpg time_frenchculture.jpg
U.S. edition European edition

Perhaps the conclusion in these two cases isn’t that we’re dolts. Perhaps in the United States, we’re more interested in exploring what makes us tick.

  • Shannon

    Those who subscribe to Time, or so I assume, would prefer more newsworthy articles over mainstream media-type articles. I would think the Time audience would choose to read an article on Hong Kong before the science of romance. If research is simply based on cover design, then that’s entirely different.

    I find this disheartening, channging the magazine because Gilmore assumes Americans would choose one over another. I hope he lets the audience decide, then again, magazine sales would decide that for him.

  • bsimon

    Shannon- its not about subscribers, its about attracting newsstand buyers. Subscribers don’t buy the magazine based on the cover – they buy in advance.

  • bsimon

    Regarding content, if Time magazine is any indicator, the answer is: Yes, we are shallow dolts. Its less superficial than, say, People magazine, but if you’re looking for thoughtful, in-depth coverage, look elsewhere.

  • Bob Collins

    That brings up an interesting question. Take all the magazines available anywhere in the world. What the top 10?

  • Calvin K.

    I would say that depends on the audience and/or how one defines the top 10. As an architect and avid roller skater I have my own preferences, probaby different than most, but still part of the mainstream. Do I read TIME? Only at the dentist’s office, if I must.

  • Bob Collins

    Yes, my top 10 would not include most people’s if we’re talking all magazines (OK, shoot me, I like Yankee! (g). A good magazine for old men.)

    Let’s make it general news. Not celebrity stuff or anything like that but what we would normally consider coverage of national and international issues.

  • B2

    I love discussions about good magazinage. When I was a scruffy kid I had a loud “discussion” on the street in the French Quarter with another SK who later edited NOLA Magazine and now I hear writes for the NR (who knew?). He stated that the New Yorker was the best magazine in the world. I agreed the stories were excellent, but most of it only related to middle class NYers.

    I countered that the best magazine was National Enquirer (or now People I suppose) because it gave buyers exactly what they wanted from cover to cover. A lot of yelling ensued. Supersized trash information. I still believe that very few individuals get up in the morning eager to read about international affairs – but they do google britney and bball and iporn. Or cute lol cats and the suduko of the day. What do I think is good news coverage? Any media that can get dolts like me to read well-written Cliffs Notes version of what may be going on around us. I had housemates from Greece, Sudan and Mongolia – try to find daily updates on those countries in a magazine. I’m for the internet.