Crunch Time at TIME magazine

Most magazines aren’t known for their fast turnaround. TIME is one of the exceptions. As the first and now one of the last true-to-form newsweeklies, TIME had its next issue already filed when news broke yesterday of Steve Jobs’s death. But that didn’t stop managing editor Rick Stengel from halting the presses and hauling in the staff to produce a new issue — in under three hours, no less. Big kudos to TIME’s hard-working staff for cranking out the commemorative issue in such a short period. The new cover, pictured here, marks the ninth that the Apple visionary has graced since 1982. For a look at the other eight, click here. And go to WIRED if you want to read the best tribute to Jobs I’ve seen throughout the last 24 hours worth of coverage.

Are ‘Top Singles’ Articles Past Their Expiration Date?

Time Out New York‘s most recent issue, The Sex Issue, makes me question whether people still turn to magazines to identify a city’s top singles. Sure, getting on the list gives you bragging rights, but does anyone actually care anymore? In this era of unconventional matchmaking, with numerous sites like eHarmony and televisions shows like The Millionaire Matchmaker glorifying the business, where do magazines come into play? TONY does a good job of highlighting singles from various backgrounds and for every sexual orientation, yet we don’t know what criteria the magazine uses to select this supposed lot of hot bachelors and bachelorettes. Perhaps more transparency would give the magazine’s annual roundup of singles greater importance. Still, I’d argue city magazines augment their Top Singles issues for something that’s actually useful, something hands-on. Well, I’m really pulling from what The Washington Post Magazine does each week, since its clever — and popular — Date Lab page follows two singles on a date that the magazine editors set up. That way, rather than point wishful singles in the right direction, the magazine actually plays matchmaker and documents what happens.

Cover of the Week: 09.30.11

Even though I’ve only lived in New York since June, I learned quickly where the tourist traps are and how important it is to steer clear of them. Aside from the sheer amusement that comes from seeing the kinds of people that Times Square draws, I avoid it like the plague. Everyone’s too busy gawking at the double arched “M,” as if they’ve never seen a McDonald’s before, or sizing up the Naked Cowboy to actually look where they’re walking. The New Yorkers are easy to spot, since they’re the only ones not walking in zig-zags. That’s why the latest New Yorker cover thoughtfully captures the problem by showing how Times Square should be — with a designated lane for tourists. The only thing that’s missing is a moving walkway for the non-tourists, given the rush New Yorkers are in (especially to get out of Times Square).

Is there a place for HGTV Magazine?

Despite the unstable economy, Hearst and HGTV have partnered to launch a new magazine next month. The appropriately named HGTV Magazine is one of the only major consumer magazines brought to market in the last few years, according to The New York Times. It’s also the first launch since 2008 from one of the country’s top three magazine publishers. (The other two, Time Inc. and Condé Nast, have remained more timid during the recession.) Past partnerships between Hearst and other networks for new magazines, including the successful Food Network Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine, bode well. The company seems to have a formula for translating the popularity of a television brand to a print product. But will the same hold true with the economy still sputtering? I think if the magazine can carve out a significant portion of readers who are looking for tips on more budget-friendly home and garden touches, it will find a place on the newsstand. There appears to be less competition in that area. Unfortunately, Budget Living‘s demise in 2006 hints at trouble for a magazine’s ability to navigate that market.

Cover of the Week: 09.23.11

TIME always impresses me with its ability to mix playful and serious covers. This week’s cover story, “Playing Favorites” by Jeffrey Kluger, taps into one of the most common arguments among families with more than one child: Who’s the favorite? The cover image plays up the notion that all parents have a favorite kid with a depiction of three siblings eating cake — only one got a significantly bigger piece than the others. An exploration of the science of favoritism is a great idea for a story, and I’m sure this week’s issue will sell well on the newsstands. After all, everyone would like to think they’re the favorite child, right? Well, so long as they don’t have a case of the middle-child syndrome (like me).

The Celebrity Profile, by the Celebrity

Neil Patrick Harris graces the cover of the new Entertainment Weekly for a story written by, well, none other than Neil Patrick Harris. In the seven-page spread, NPH traces his own Hollywood story, from his days as a child actor playing Doogie Howser to the hilarious Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. This isn’t a first for EW in terms of having a celebrity write their own profile. Ryan Reynolds penned the June 24 cover story, “Why I’m Obsessed with Ryan Reynolds, by Ryan Reynolds” and the magazine received gushing letters from readers. But the real question is: Is this a smart move for the magazine? Are these articles better stories than the ones EW writers would have crafted?

Well, it’s hard to compare the two, since magazine writers only have a limited amount of time with the subject. And with limited access, they’re working with less material than the celebrity who writes their own story. Having profiles like these also adds variety to the voices in the magazine, which is always a good thing. So long as the magazine continues to select celebrities who are good writers, it fulfills the brand’s mission of providing readers with unique access to Hollywood and its many faces. Both NPH and Reynolds delivered smart, witty pieces that readers could connect with. Let’s just hope stories like these don’t turn into self-promotional drivel.