Left, Time's Dec. 5 U.S. cover; right, the Dec. 5 cover for Time's Europe, Asia and South Pacific editions.
Do the editors of Time think Americans are too squeamish to handle a cover image of violent political unrest in Egypt? It would appear that way, given the respective covers that ran for the Dec. 5 issue U.S. and international editions of the newsweekly.
For the covers of its Europe, Asia and South Pacific editions, Time went with "Revolution Redux," covering another uprising of Egyptians against military rule and featuring a defiant Egyptian rebel on a fiery street donning a gas mask.
For the U.S. cover, Time went with a smiling, androgynous black and white cartoon figure to illustrate a special health feature that asks, "Is anxiety good for you?"
Both stories appear in all editions of the magazine, and it's not unusual for the magazine to select different covers for its U.S. and international editions. But the choice between these covers begs the question: Does Time really think Americans are more interested in coverage of their own stress than another historic rebellion, albeit on the other side of the world?
In the letters section of its Dec. 12 edition, hitting newsstands Friday, Time addresses the question:
Last week's issue also caused considerable consternation among bloggers and readers, who objected to our putting the protests in Egypt inside our domestic edition and on the cover overseas. "Why is anxiety the most pressing issue in the U.S. while the Egyptian revolution gets front-page treatment internationally?" read a typical e-mail. Observers at ShortFormBlog analyzed a year's worth of our covers and concluded each edition gets the same amount of hard news, give or take an issue or two. We're glad to be held to high expectations, especially when the bar is set by one of our own editions.
The Dec. 12 issue also features different covers among its four editions. The U.S. version of Time features a cover story on Mitt Romney; the Europe edition explores "The Putin Problem"; the Asia and South Pacific editions are focused on a "Brave New Burma."