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Media Clippings: O, Beautiful … for Hard Sales' Sake

October 27, 2005 By:
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These days, New York magazine seems to morph into a new publication with every third or fourth issue. The editors, who pride themselves on keeping ahead of the curve in terms of trends would probably love hearing this observation; I, however, don't consider it praise. In fact, I find these periodic transformations baffling. I'd like to tell the people in charge to make up their minds already, and let the magazine settle into a niche.

But I imagine New York, like most other magazines in the savage marketplace called print journalism, are feeling the heat. They look at what's disappearing off the shelves, and it's not always their items. So they try to emulate what readers want, which means turning yourself into People - or, worse, US.

There were two recent examples of such wannabe-ism. The first popped up on Aug. 15, when the cover proclaimed New York's "First Annual Scientific Survey of the 50 Most Beautiful New Yorkers." Now, between these sizable headlines, smaller print was placed to rib the magazine for doing something so attention-grabbing as putting ravishingly beautiful people on the cover. The final little line in the small print said: "Superficial? Hey, it's summer. Sit back and enjoy the scenery."

Now, the eye candy wasn't difficult to take. And the editors tried their damnedest to undercut it all - to make you believe they weren't giving in to glamour journalism, and that this was just a seasonal aberration.

"It all started as so much innocent post-vacation banter," the copy read. "A member of the staff had gone to Buenos Aires and come back impressed by, among other things, the striking handsomeness of the people he saw on the streets there. It was a distinct physical beauty that could in no way be confused with that found in other cities, he said; these people were Buenos Aires gorgeous, not Rome gorgeous or L.A. gorgeous. And from there a discussion ensued, naturally, about our own city, whose rich cultural and commercial treasures are often eclipsed by the incredibly satisfying passive entertainment called people-watching. A debate began; a story emerged."

There's also a sidebar devoted to how they came up with these people, and lots of full-page close-ups of the sweepstake winners.

The second example came in the Sept. 26 issue with a cover story called "Salaries '05." Now, everybody loves this kind of thing - a sneaky little peak into what bigwigs make.

On the cover were pictures of a hedge-funder who pockets $1,020,000,000 (those zeros are all correct); the mayor of NYC, who it's been said earns $1; a model who makes $15,200,000; a management consultant - presumed to be Chelsea Clinton - who brings in $120,000; her mother, who as senator makes $160,100; Andy Warhol, who as a dead artist still rakes in $16,226,741; and a panhandler who tops $24,000.

There's also a story called "The Heroin Den Next Door," clearly to prove New York hasn't succumbed. Still, it makes for a weird mix.

 

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