Face Up: Huffington
Issue: July 28, 2013
Launched: June 2012
Circ: 600,000 (Free iPad)
Editor: John Montorio
Design: Josh Klenert
Publishing Company: The Huffington Post
The summer was rife with provocative newsstand covers. Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker, Ebony and, of course, Rolling Stone all made headlines. But the trend wasnât on paper alone. Huffington, a weekly iPad-exclusive magazine published by Huffington Post, made a bold statement of its own.
The July 28 issue features a rendering of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his âI Have a Dream Speechâ while wearing a hooded sweatshirtâa symbolic image now synonymous with Trayvon Martin.
The cover was developed with Howard Finemanâs inside feature in mind. âFrom the get-go this story [Finemanâs âStill Not Freeâ] was about the connection between the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and tying it to the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting and verdict. Both have strong iconic imagery so it came together quickly.â says Josh Klenert, vice president, design and UX.
Poster Format in Digital
Klenert says that it is essential to create poster-like images to capture attention in the digital space. âIn any medium youâre fighting for attention. While weâre not fighting for attention on an analog newsstand, we need to have a strong image that shows up in the app store and as an icon on somebodyâs desktop. We have to boil down our covers so that they work as thumbnails and as full-size covers,â he says.
Still, getting noticed is not always a good thing, and Huffingtonâs editor, John Montorio, admits there were early conversations in the production process about whether the cover would be tasteful or not. âWeâre playing with an incredible icon in American History, and we didnât want to do anything that was disrespectful,â Montorio says.
âMy first impression of the Huffington cover was its immediacy, cleverness and its seamless production. A few minutes later, I developed second thoughts about its concept. Mixing an iconic metaphor (the hoodieâwhich itself has polarizing interpretations depending on oneâs background) with a historic photo of one of the greatest civil-rights leaders of our time feels like an awkward mash-up and an easy way out of a tough design challenge. Implying Trayvon Martin is on the same level as or is similar to Martin Luther King Jr. is a stretch and one I suspect most readers will disagree with.â
âThat said, the cover does succeed in grabbing the readersâ attention; its overall art direction and photo-illustration is tight and well executed.â
âIt would have been prudent to remove the three rooflines considering the controversial cover. Having a roofline of âLive Foreverâ seems a bit insensitive when one considers that both men symbolized on the cover died young and violently.â
Mark Montgomery, Senior Art Director, IEEE Spectrum magazine
âI donât know what the Huffingtonâs budget is but I would think theyâd have the money to create a new image (photo or illustration). Instead they created a concept they could not photograph, since both subjects (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin) are deceased. But it is a memorable cover. Theyâve still created something new and unique to their brand.â
âIâm distracted by the slugs and I wish they werenât there. Somehow âMeet the New J-Law,â âLive Foreverâ and especially âMake a SoufflĂ©â donât seem to work with the very powerful cover story slug âStill Not Free.â If they were going for max impact they should have left the other text off the cover, especially since itâs a digital magazine.â
Amy Wolff, Photo Editor, PDN
Have a unique âcoverâ story? Contact associate editor Casey Welton at firstname.lastname@example.org