Magazines’ Photo Manipulations: Ethical?

Time and again professors have reinforced how important it is to present facts and photos in a way that represents the truth. When applying this principle to magazines, however, sometimes the photos displayed on the glossy front covers and inside pages fall short of reality. Individuals who admire these magazines and the celebrities that appear to be photographed with flawless skin, hair and bodies often compare themselves to these false personas. We should be informed, not fooled, ladies.

Take, for example, France’s Grazia magazineWith Megan Fox on the cover, editors must have decided that making both of her tattoos visible would complicate the cover. Then why did they print the same photo inside with the tattoo present? If they did not want it to show, they should have photographed her from a different angle or dressed her in a more full-coverage gown.

Photo manipulation can also cast individuals in a more sinister light, like TIME magazine did with this photo of OJ Simpson. By darkening his features, Simpson appears scary and suspicious which presents a bias against him. TIME should have used his original photo, untouched, to present a more accurate picture of him as a human being.

Below are more examples of photos that have been edited to fulfill the magazines’ idea of “perfection.” No wonder so many teens are being diagnosed with eating disorders and are unhappy with their bodies. Media are distorting truths and manipulating perceptions.

I, as a magazine lover and aspiring writer/editor, hold the principle of presenting truth in high regard and dislike such photo manipulation. Who else is with me?

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April’s Color Schemes

When I think “April,” I begin to think of the springy holidays, blossoming flowers and pastel colors abounding everywhere. Magazine publishers have much of the same images in mind when they are brainstorming what their cover pages should look like this month. Well… some of them, anyway.

Taking a peek at this month’s magazine covers, it appears that most incorporate and bring to life the very essence of the season and make our eyes gravitate towards the colors while we are waiting on line at the food store. Advertisers study consumer behavior and attempt to determine what makes us do certain things, in this case, pick up a magazine and leaf through it.

I believe it is extremely important to choose colors that will attract as many readers as possible. Most publishers comprehend this concept, but others put there own spin on their cover’s color scheme which spices things up and makes them unique.

I’m in the processing of coding my first professional website from scratch, and I’ve played around with the color scheme probably about 100 times. I’ve been using this color scheme designer site to help visualize which colors will complement each other best, and without it, my site would probably look like a Crayola crayon box.  Hopefully I’ve finally gotten it right, but while contemplating, I realized how challenging it must be for a magazine staff to choose which colors and design will best yield readership.

I’ve taken a look at some April magazine covers, and here is a list of the top 5 that caught my eye on the racks for good and bad reasons.

5. Seventeen: It appears to me as though Seventeen‘s cover is meant for a fall issue, perhaps September, although I do adore the fact that Jennifer Lawrence‘s tie-dyed shirt matches the text surrounding her. Nowhere does it mention the word “spring.” It focuses more generally on hair and fashion which is featured in just about every issue, so I definitely believe it deserves a spot on my list at #5. Sorry, Seventeen!

4. Marie Claire: Instead of taking a traditional approach and throwing a bunch of pink and purples into the mix, this one, with Leighton Meester on the cover, appears polished and sophisticated. Although this magazine is my ultimate favorite, I don’t quite understand why the colors resemble fall foliage, but nonetheless, I own this issue and am staring at it right now! Better luck next time, MC.

3. Glamour: Once again, because The Hunger Games is so hot right now, Jennifer Lawrence is featured on the cover and is looking fabulous. Although I do like that she is photographed on a green pasture and some text is bright and fuchsia, her outfit is not in sync with the springy vibe. It looks more like she is headed to a nightclub than an Easter dinner, but there is mention of “Spring outfits,” so I give them some credit.

2. Cosmopolitan: Let me begin by stating that Megan Fox looks absolutely gorgeous on this month’s cover! Her body language gives off the embodiment of a sexy yet successful woman ready to take on anything. The magazine did not go over the top with their color scheme but incorporated pink and gold accents that really made the cover pop for me. They even mentioned “Spring’s sexiest makeup” that readers can find inside. Kudos, Cosmo.

1. Lucky: It doesn’t get much more “springy” than this. Rachel Bilson‘s dress and the text that flows around her makes me want to join her for a day in the park on a sunny day. The word “spring” is in a large, bold font, and the light purple tree complements the darker text around it very well. Rachel looks like the typical “girl-next-door” in this outfit, and the cover screams, “READ ME!” Congrats, Lucky, for being lucky enough to be my #1 this month.

What are your thoughts on this month’s color scheme choices?

Living the Dream, One Idea at a Time

As a journalism student, I have thus far focused more on media ethics and the importance of projecting a professional online identity than I have on constructing interesting ideas and topics for stories. If you are a news reporter covering a local or national event, usually the current happenings draw you to a good story. In magazines that are tailored for a specific audience, however, how are you to know which topics to pursue and those that should be trashed?

I’ve began brainstorming how one pursuing a career in magazine writing (mwah!) would go about narrowing down an idea to make it both intriguing and relevant to a particular audience while simultaneously offering a fresh approach.

The process may seem confusing, as it was to me at first, but I am going to offer you my thoughts on this subject and a list of tips on how to write engaging material:

  • You can never do enough brainstorming. An idea that appears far-fetched and ridiculous to you could fascinate an editor and eventually attract loyal readership. Anything goes, and anything is possible.
  •  Scope out the competition. In no way should you be searching for ideas to steal or build off of, but doing your homework to see what has already been done to offer a new spin on a traditional topic will interest readers.
  • Seek out your audience. Defining who you wish to target and what their likes/dislikes are will help narrow your idea. Also, by identifying your audience, you can ask for their input on what they wish to read about and are interested in finding more about.

  • Go with what you know. It is never a good idea to attempt to write an article you have no interest in or have no information on. If you are an expert in something or possess a unique skill, use it to your advantage when magazine writing.
  • Incorporate quirkiness. Stories about peculiar or somewhat controversial topics draw in attention and make the reader want to know more about you are talking about. However, be sure to balance a controversial subject with both sides of the controversy. Don’t be biased.
  • Write something that’s relatable to a broad audience. Even though you might love a topic, if it is not relevant to a large audience, the article will nose-dive. Yes, it is good to have an interest in what you’re writing about, but don’t fall in love with your story.
  • Seek inspiration. Who are your idols, icons, role models? Research what they are writing about and what has made them popular in their profession. Don’t hesitate to ask for their guidance and for an opportunity for them to mentor you.

“The more you think, the more time you have.” ~Henry Ford