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09/11/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Just when I think traditional media is dead, something happens to change my mind. Last week, that something happened in WH Smith, the English bookshop on rue de Rivoli. I often go there to sneakily read magazines that I have no intention of buying.

That was until the front cover of The Economist caught my eye. You could hardly miss it. The headline said « What France needs » above a picture of Margaret Thatcher, super­imposed on the French flag. I'm not going to say whether or not I agree with that statement, but the cover was irresistible. I was dying to read what my friends over there had to say about my home over here.

Magazine covers have taken on a vital importance in these times of Web migration. Yet it's as if most magazines are happy to rely on subscriptions, so they no longer have to jolt new readers into buying them. There's a sort of formula. Men's magazine : woman with big tits. News magazine : head of politician and/or Muslims burning US flag. Women's magazine : woman with small tits. And so on. But magazine covers should shock and stir, jarring us out of complacency. For some really good covers, look at the 1960s designs for Esquire magazine by George Lois : http://georgelois.com/esquire.html.

By the way, I noticed that men's magazine Arena celebrated its 20th anniversary recently. The very first cover I remember was a stark black and white photograph of the actor Michael Caine. This month's cover was... some women with big tits. No comment.

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