Link of the Week: Magazines Speaking Out with Unconventional Covers

When it comes to magazine covers, the titles and logos are one of their most recognizable features. It is often what we use to identify the magazines amongst the handfuls of others on a newsstand. A magazine with a more recognizable logo and design may stand a better chance against the competition. However, what if magazines can catch readers’ attentions by doing the opposite? Sometimes, a little surprise is just what a brand needs to create buzz.

From the article, “Face Up Online: Mother Jones,” featured on Folio Mag, designer Robert Newman discusses the off-the-grain design choices of liberal magazines, including Mother Jones.

On the July/August 2014 Mother Jones magazine cover, you will not find the clean serif typeface like that on its previous covers. Instead, you will find a bright, red and yellow cover with a bold typeface: a parody of a tabloid magazine. Newman says about the cover, “The parody, designed by creative director Ivylise Simones, is spot on, with just the right mix of funkiness and visual chaos. The design holds nothing back, right down to the Mother Jones logo, which was redesigned for this issue to reflect a tabloid feel. The result is a cover that is fun, engaging, provocative and viral-ready. It takes a strong partnership between the editors and the visual team to create this kind of high-level, sophisticated cover design and it works brilliantly, crafting a set of images that work on so many levels.”

Newman adds, “Conventional wisdom is that a magazine’s logo is sacrosanct, a critical part of the brand that should never be messed with, and I’m sure the Mother Jones logo change will confuse a few readers. Yet, what the magazine gains is a dynamic, comprehensive graphic approach that not only jumps off the page, but is destined to work quite effectively online and across the magazine’s multiple platforms. Apparently altering logos to fit stylized covers has become a trend, because it’s been done recently to great effect by both Bloomberg Businessweek (who have done it at least three times over the past year) and The New Republic.”

Keeping a magazine cover looking seemingly the same each week or month is not a bad thing; it makes the magazine easy to recognize and comfortable. Magazines can use that sameness to their advantage, as Mother Jones has, and break the norm, causing excitement and wonder as to why that month’s cover is special. As Newman says, creating a cover that is out of the ordinary will create buzz “online and across the magazine’s multiple platforms.”

When The New Republic featured Jeopardy TV host Alex Trebek as its cover story, the magazine “designed itself to look like the famous Jeopardy game board, altering its logo to mimic the show’s distinctive trademark.”

Newman also writes, “In early June, Bloomberg Businessweek published a story on progressive economist-of-the-moment Thomas Piketty designed to look like a teen fan magazine, complete with a bubble gum logo and small photos of both Justin Bieber and Karl Marx. Both covers take complicated, unsexy topics, but with graphic stylization they turned them into dynamic, pulsating covers, and the same is true with this Mother Jones cover. Of course, there’s a long history of magazines designing covers to look like LP covers, posters, books, product packaging and more. It’s very exciting that magazines that cover topics that are generally not considered flashy and cool (politics and business) are creating some of the liveliest, hip and memorable covers.”

Newman also raises the question as to why it seems that the covers of more liberal magazines seem to “look so much better and smarter than their conservative counterparts.” This may have to do with political ideology, or it may just be a simple design choice. Nonetheless, using unconventional covers can definitely have an effect on a magazine’s buzz.

Internship Opportunity



COSIMO, a niche book publisher in Chelsea, NYC is looking for a Fall 2014 part-time (2 days a week, Tues/Thurs) online and media sales intern.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Assisting with all aspects of our publishing process, including print and e-book production;
  • Supporting sales activities, including research for sales opportunities and creating sales materials.
  • Assisting with book marketing tasks, including online marketing, social networking, and publicity mailings.
  • Conducting market research
  • Assisting with channel management
  • Handling special projects as they arise
  • General office administration as needed


  • Strong interest in book publishing is required
  • Knowledge of online marketing and social media tools
  • Prior experience in sales a plus
  • Prior professional and/or office experience preferred
  • Well-organized, detail-oriented, and able to set priorities
  • Solid working knowledge of PC platform—MS Word/Excel skills required
  • Excellent proofreading skills
  • Design and/or Copyediting experience a plus

The internship is for the Fall 2014 semester. This is an opportunity to gain real work experience in an entrepreneurial environment that is also sociable & flexible. This position would last the duration of summer 2014 with possibilities for extension.

Please contact Professor Denning at for more information about how to apply.

Internship Opportunity

Editorial Intern


Part of Time Inc’s Lifestyle division, This Old House is a dynamic, multiplatform content company covering DIY home renovation and design. We are seeking an organized, high-energy editorial intern for full- or part-time work through the fall semester, starting August 11th.

The position pays $10/hr.

Responsibilities include research and reporting, sourcing images, calling in and returning products for shoots, some light DIY, and clerical tasks. Prove yourself a capable writer, and we’ll have you writing up a storm. Additional requirements: excellent verbal and written communication; exceptional attention to detail; and strong multitasking skills.

This is a fantastic opportunity for an ambitious candidate to observe how veteran editors produce stories for print, tablet, the Web and video. Previous interns have landed staff positions with This Old House and other Time Inc brands.

For information on how to apply, contact Professor Denning at

Link of the Week: Cosmo’s “Get That Life” featuring Anna Holmes and Jezebel

Anna Holmes, the founding editor of Gawker Media’s Jezebel website, that “transformed the female-centered Internet with humor, critique of traditional women’s media, and a hefty does of feminism,” never would have imagined herself as an online maven. Today, at 40, Holmes is a freelance writer and columnist at The New York Times Book Review. Yet, the path taken to be where she is today has not necessarily been straight and narrow.

Holmes had wanted to be a journalist, and therefore studied journalism at New York University. When she started, she said she wanted to write what “you would have called literary nonfiction, the kinds of things being published in Harpers and The Atlantic and The New Yorker.”

Holmes interned at numerous places throughout those early years including the New York Press, Entertainment Weekly, and HBO. When she got a job at Glamour as a staff writer she had been out of college for about five years. Her hope at Glamour was that she could “supplement the more bread-and-butter sex and relationship stuff with serious content, but that was not the case.”

She was also working for Condé Nast and Vogue at that time. However, she felt that this was not the right fit for her either.

Then, when Holmes went through a bad breakup, she ended up using that conflict to write a book that focused on the genre of angry emails and letters sent to exes. Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair required a lot of historical research, and this gave Holmes a reason to leave Glamour. The book released in 2002 and received positive press, but as Holmes said, “…it wasn’t like it led to people calling and offering me better jobs.”

Later Holmes freelanced at Star. Although she couldn’t have cared less about celebrity gossip, she did like her coworkers. At this point, Holmes felt far away from what she wanted to do when she was in college.

After Star Holmes freelanced as an editor for InStyle. She said she had an office, and that she was “working among grown-ups who appreciated my competence.” Eight months into working at InStyle they asked if she would be interested in being the editor of the InStyle website. Holmes said, “This was 2006, and no one I knew in print media had gone to work on the web.” She did not think that working on a website was something “tenable for a 33-year-old.”

It was around this time that a friend Holmes had worked with at Star was going to start a women’s website for Gawker Media and had asked Holmes to help. At first, Holmes said no; but then she changed her mind because she could work on something new. It was then that the original idea holder said she didn’t want to do it anymore, leaving Holmes completely on her own. Despite the fear of starting Jezebel, Holmes did accomplish it. Even though “print seemed like a much safer space,” she worked hard at creating something worth her while.

After three and a half years with Jezebel, it was time for Holmes to take the next step. She left the blogging to others and instead worked on two Jezebel-related books. With the success of the books, including The Book of Jezebel, Holmes could be a little more selective about what she chose to write about. In 2011 she wrote a column for the Washington Post. Last summer, she got a call to write as a columnist on The New York Times Book Review, which she gladly accepted.

Anna Holmes’ journey is a lesson for all aspiring creative types. Sometimes we have to take the road less traveled by in order to truly have an adventure. If an opportunity comes along that was not written in your original script, don’t be afraid to take it. You may just become the next Anna Holmes.

View the entire Get That Life post about Anna Holmes here.