Time Caught in Act of Dumbing Down the News for US Readers

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Blogger Paul Schmelzer has been busy raising questions about some of the nation’s widely read periodicals when it comes to the selection of their cover stories—namely the difference between Time‘s April 2 U.S. and International editions. While the international cover features a story about Pakistani religious extremists filtering across the border of Afghanistan “with the intention of imposing their strict interpretation of Islam on a population unable to fight back,” the US edition of the publication features the story, “The Case for Teaching the Bible.” Schmelzer wonders why Time isn’t giving the U.S. the same edition that the rest of the world is seeing on newsstands. The choice can’t only be about marketing and keeping newsstand sales up in the U.S. Something’s a little fishy here.

This isn’t the first time that a major US news weekly has pulled this trick of presenting the news differently to US readers than it does to the rest of the world. Last September, Newsweek gave international readers a cover story about the Taliban and US readers a cover featuring photographer Annie Leibovitz, in essence replacing with a hard-hitting news story of international importance with a much lighter celebrity piece. In the case of both the Time and the Newsweek cover story cover-ups, the stories were related to coverage of the Taliban. Is marketing getting in the way of the serious news in the U.S.? Or is the media afraid to tell Americans what they don’t want to hear? Only Time can tell.

—Rose Miller

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