Newsweek’s cover image showing two asparagus stalks pointed at a woman’s upturned mouth ran in Harper’s Bazaar in 2006, Raphael Brion writes in Eater. On Tuesday, Brion found the same image on a 2008 cover of Observer Food Monthly in Great Britain. Newsweek’s PR directed Politico reporter Dylan Byers to a tweet giving the Observer’s food mag credit and apologizing for the “crudite.” Newsweek also points out that it ran a similar cover in 2003.
File Asparagus-gate under unintentional recycling, but one (not me, of course) could construct a narrative based on other recent stops the magazine’s taken on the Wayback Machine after bringing on Tina Brown as editor.
- Resurrecting a 1987 cover calling George H.W. Bush a wimp for a cover story about Mitt Romney that Jonathan Chait said “gamely tries to fit the facts into the hackneyed premise.”
- Commissioning Jayson Blair to write about Jonah Lehrer’s journalistic transgressions. (This was Blair’s first byline since 2004, Blair confirmed in an email.
- Digitally altering photos of Princess Diana to imagine what she might look like at 50.
But that’s ignoring at least one instance in which the magazine’s flagrant buzz-hunting worked: Its cover calling the first black president the first gay president, an audacious tactic that caused print copies of the magazine to fly off newsstands. Sustaining that kind of effective buzz is a 2012 problem.