The Lookout

Bloomberg Businessweek editor regrets publishing controversial housing cover

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

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(Bloomberg Businessweek)

Bloomberg Businessweek is taking a beating from critics who say the magazine's recent cover—featuring a cartoon illustration of what appears to be a black family rolling in cash from a housing rebound—is racist.

"Our cover illustration got strong reactions, which we regret," Josh Tyrangiel, Bloomberg Businessweek's editor in chief, said in a statement to Yahoo News. "If we had to do it over again, we'd do it differently."

The Feb. 25 cover depicts the cash-grabbing family members as stereotypical caricatures inside a two-story pink home above the headline "The Great American Housing Rebound."

"Flips. No-look bids. 300 percent returns," the subhead reads. "What could possibly go wrong?"

"The claim that minorities are creating a housing bubble through flipping, no-look bids, and 300% returns is simply not reality," Jacob Gaffney wrote on HousingWire.com. "Flipping is a form of fraud and not a typical transaction. No-look bids are not exclusive to Hispanic and African-American investors. No one is making a 300% return."

"Businessweek Warns That Minorities May Be Buying Houses Again," Matthew Yglesias wrote on Slate.com.

"It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process," Ryan Chittum wrote on the Columbia Journalism Review.

Andres Guzman, a Peru-born, Minneapolis-based artist, was commissioned by Bloomberg Businessweek for the illustration. "I was asked to make an excited family with large quantities of money," Guzman wrote on his Tumblr page before the controversy erupted. "I slipped in my lovely cat, Boo, which was my favorite part. Too bad I wasn’t asked to draw large quantities of cats. Drawing dollars was a drag."

"I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know," Guzman explained in a follow-up statement provided to Yahoo! News by Bloomberg Businessweek. "I am Latino and grew up around plenty of mixed families."

The magazine has become known for its provocative covers. Tyrangiel was named Advertising Age's 2012 Editor of the Year because of his willingness—along with creative director Richard Turley—to push the envelope.

Last year, they published a cover featuring two commercial jets having plane sex (under the headline "Let's Get It On") to illustrate the Continental-United merger. Bloomberg Businessweek also published a cover featuring Mitt Romney—then in the heat of the Republican primary—with the cover art from Bruce Springsteen's 1984 album "Born in the U.S.A." displayed in front of the former Massachusetts governor's backside, supporting the cover line: "SCORNED IN THE USA."

"I'm glad that our covers have captured a lot of attention and that some people call them controversial, but that's really only because the stories themselves are controversial," Tyrangiel had told Ad Age. "Part of it is that we have a group of people here who are not afraid to handle really hot subjects."

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