“Journalism is not our stock and trade”

Video above is of Self magazine Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danziger defending  her decision to use a thinner, healthier looking photoshopped Kelly Clarkson on the cover a couple months ago.  In my opinion her reasoning for using a touch-up photo of Kelly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  If the issue is about Kelly being a confident woman because she’s healthy than why are you digitally slimming her down.  But, while photoshopping has been a controversial issue with magazines for quite some time.  Photoshopping wasn’t what made my head spin.  It was Ms. Danziger saying that Self magazine’s stock and trade isn’t journalism.  Maybe, I heard her wrong.  Or maybe, she just couldn’t find the right words.  Or maybe that’s exactly what she meant.

I would think when you’re the editor-in chief of a popular fitness magazine, journalism should still be important.  It is not like Self is the National Enquirer where journalism is non-existent.   Self is like most popular magazines that focuses less on traditional journalism and more on “inspiring and informing.”  I myself read Cosmopolitan, not because of the magazine’s amazing journalistic stories, but just for the sheer enjoyment of reading the latest inane sex tip.  So, is that what most consumer magazines are glossy how-to’s and gossip rags?  Or is not “inspiring and informing” just another way to describe journalism?

What are your thoughts about Lucy Danziger’s comments? Are you just as confuse as me or do you have a better understanding of what she said? Does her comment make you look at magazines especially consumer magazines a different way?

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7 responses to ““Journalism is not our stock and trade”

  1. marybessbolling

    Danziger’s comments were expected for magazine journalism. They have a target audience and thousands of studies telling them what the audience likes to see – and what makes them buy magazines. In the magazine’s business mindset, the aggressive photoshopping seems logical. From a journalistic standpoint, though, the publication skewed the accuracy of it’s cover.

    • I agree with Mary Bess; the editor-in-chief’s comments were certainly not surprising.

      I think there was a lot of validity to what she said about the “chicken and the egg” nature of the dilemma. Should society change its social mores and magazines fall in line to cater to the changing audience or should magazines start the trend of embracing reality?

      I think the challenge for magazines is that it is such a risk to be the leader of the pack. If one magazine went cold-turkey on using Photoshop, they could be applauded or get burned by consumers and the rest of the industry.

      This video also reminded me of what I just read on Autumn’s post. Danziger mentions getting heat from “vocal bloggers.” I wonder which blogs media professionals check. Who are they listening to?

    • I definitely agree. I can understand not wanting someone less than perfect/desirable on the cover of a fitness/health magazine that is meant to inspire readers. But I still think this mag took it a little too far, especially given the sensitive subject covered within its pages.

  2. What sells magazines?

    While Kelly Clarkson may not be the slimmest idol ever (forgive the pun), nobody wants to see a “fat girl” on the cover of a fitness magazine. Don’t take this the wrong way. I think Clarkson is absolutely gorgeous just the way she is. And I wish we lived in a world where this type of journalism wasn’t necessary. But truth be told, the slimming of Clarkson is what sells magazines, not her natural beauty–large, small or otherwise. It’s a shame, but this is what society and buyers of the magazine wants to see.

  3. At first I was horrified at the “journalism is not our stock-in-trade” quote. Later, I decided it was refreshing. At least she was honest.

    But don’t you magazine majors consider yourselves “journalists”? How will you handle such situations? What makes “a journalist,” anyway?

    Y’all have seen this Dove video on beauty, right?

  4. I think that inspiring and informing is another kind of journalism.. It’s not hard-hitting facts like newspapers, but Self’s style of journalism isn’t even similar to Vanity Fair. Self doesn’t do long in depth features about financial crises and things like that in the world, so for them to use a different definition of journalism I think is appropriate. I also feel that a lot about being confident in your body the way it is, is making what you’ve got look it’s best. Kelly didn’t look that much skinnier to me in the photoshopped picture, she just had a shirt on that fit and flattered her instead of that weird black lace up shirt. Plus it’s natural for people to be attracted to pretty people.. besides, after their mission statement, a magazines goal is, not surprisingly, to make money like every other company in the world.

  5. The part that gets me the most is that this is Self Magazine, a magazine that empowers readers to feel good about who they are. By photoshopping Clarkson’s image, the magazine is completely disregarding what they stand for. Giving a false image for their readers to look up to and impaired reasoning for purchasing the product. I do not agree with the changes and I especially think Clarkson should have stepped in and said she wants to look like herself because that is who she is. Someone who isn’t comfortable with their body probably shouldn’t be on the cover of a magazine–just my opinion.

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