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Editorial Controversy at People Magazine

Posted on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 1:15 PM

In the news: How 2016 election coverage landed the pop culture magazine in hot water.

Earlier this month, People found itself at the center of controversy when it published its 2016 election issue. The issue showed a picture of president-elect Donald Trump with the headline "President Trump." Just a few weeks earlier, the magazine had published a story by one of its reporters, who alleged that Trump had sexually assaulted her while she was writing a story on him in 2005. The neutral post-election cover marked a shift in editorial tone that many readers found jarring, prompting calls on social media for celebrity and subscriber boycotts of the magazine.

The backlash has raised questions about the editorial direction of the magazine, which falls under the recently restructured Time Inc. magazine umbrella. Becky Peterson of Foliomag.com writes, "People faces a rather complicated audience satisfaction question: what do its readers want?" She later elaborates, "As [parent company] Time Inc. eliminates silos through the launch of cross-brand digital desks, the legacy publisher may be forced to reconcile some yet unsorted issues of editorial discretion.... Should People -- part of the celebrity, entertainment, and style group -- continue its current editorial output, it may see great difficulties when it comes to cross-brand alignment."

Read Peterson's full commentary on the controversy here.

Also Notable

News Coverage of Fidel Castro's Death

One of the biggest news stories this week has been the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Some magazines and news outlets have been preparing their coverage for years. In a November 26 article, Al Tompkins of Poynter.org discusses coverage of the event with managing editor Rick Hirsch and executive editor Mindy Marques, both of the Miami Herald. The newspaper has been planning for this story for decades, adapting its strategy as the media landscape and reader behavior have changed. Tompkins also discusses coverage of Castro's death with CNN correspondents Patrick Oppman and Chris Moody. Read more here.

Now on Scribd: Magazine and News Subscriptions

In early November, Scribd announced that it would be adding several magazines to its subscription service, which traditionally has hosted e-books and audiobooks. According to Jeffrey Trachtenberg of WSJ.com, "The eight publications include Time Inc.'s People, Money, Fortune and Time, as well as New York magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek." The expansion into the magazine and news arena will make the service more competitive with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service. Read more here.

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