May 30, 2008

Your Turn: Stereotypes From The White Corporate Media – Part 2


More questions about race from the latest Newsweek….

To the extent we can rely on Gawker as a reliable source, what we have, above left, is the version of this week's cover that Newsweek intended to run side-by-side with the version they ultimately ran.

Writes Gawker:

In this week's cover story about Barack Obama, Newsweek distills the conventional political wisdom into a bitter tonic of condescending campaign advice. The Democratic presidential candidate is praised for having "wisely taken to often wearing and American-flag lapel" and advised "it would help to be seen venerating your white mother and grandparents as well as your black father" and that "whites resent being accused of racism for remarks they regard as innocent," in case the black politician hadn't learned that yet. To illustrate this cynical lesson in realpolitik, the magazine had originally planned to run the suitably stark cover above and on the left, according to the person who supplied us with a copy. But that cover was "killed" late Friday night, we are told, and replaced with the bright and sunny front at right — a bizarre choice given the gritty lead article and stark collection of supporting pieces on racial division.

Gawker reports that the cover on the left, after having gone through multiple iterations, was finally good to go …until the wife of the editor disapproved at the last minute, hastening its replacement.  (To read the rest of the scuttlebutt, here's the link.)

The personnel gossip aside, I'm even more convinced white corporate media is thoroughly lost as to how to engage the discussion of race.  Not to steal you thunder, but was the first cover somehow "too black" for management, hastening this almost literal white wash?  And then, how much of the problem had to do with the fact that the original version left "Us" (white folks) out? 

Anyway, I'm curious to get your read. 

(left image 1: can't be sure.  right image: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images for Newsweek.  Jun 2, 2008 issue)

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Michael Shaw
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