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The Good, the bad and the ugly…

April 30, 2007

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Just came back from Helsinki. My first stop was (of course a newsstand) at the Detroit Airport. Two things stopped me, both National Geographic and Time magazine share the same cover story. I guess great editors think alike. Walked a little bit more towards my gate and received my first welcome back surprise. A different cover of National Geographic at another newsstand stopped me. Same story but different cover within a few feet. (It seems that more than one distributor serves the Detroit Airport). My second surprise was that the covers of the magazines were not the same as their European edition covers that I bought in Amsterdam. I perfectly understand that the technology makes it easier for us to deliver relevant content to relevant audiences in relevant locations. So the decision of Time to have a story on European Soccer was perfectly understandable. But when I look at the cover story of the National Geographic European edition on India, I have to ask myself the question, how is a cover story on India more relevant to Europe than the story of America’s birth. All three insides of National Geographic are the same. There were no major changes inside National Geographic like those inside Time magazine. One thing I give credit to the National Geographic folks: they managed to confuse me here and abroad with this cover strategy. Please explain the relevance of having two different covers here, and of using India as the European cover story instead of either of the American covers. On the other hand, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the direction Time magazine has taken since its revamp, and I can completely understand and expect the different covers of their overseas editions with their different content. The story of split covers will continue…

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