Is TIME Dumbing Down Americans?


It’s sometimes said that Americans are ignorant about world events and that we’re only really concerned about ourselves. The website Business Insider explored the idea in a posting about how covers of TIME magazine are often different between international editions. Look at the covers above for the August 8, 2011 issue. While other parts of the world were reading about Islam, Americans were embroiled in “Chore Wars.” Similarly, in the covers below published on October 3, 2011, while others read about Germany and the world economic crisis, American readers were treated to a piece on favoritism.


Covers from other issues are shown below. TIME responded to questions about its different covers by indicating that for each of the issues, the content of the magazines were the same; only the covers were different. While it might be easy to criticize the magazine for appearing to dumb down content for its American audience, it’s important to realize that magazines think carefully about what they put on their covers and design them so that they sell on newsstands which are an important sales channel, particularly for newsweeklies like TIME. What do you think?

Thanks to Carrie Hausman for the tip.







Sources:, TIME

3 thoughts on “Is TIME Dumbing Down Americans?

  1. Very interesting and good to see the evidence side by side. But are we really surprised?? All one needs to do is turn on the television. Can you find a channel that isn’t populated by some pretty vacant programming? Can you find a show that doesn’t fit the category of ‘Reality TV’? If that content doesn’t insult our intelligence, I really don’t know what could. That in itself is extremely alarming…

  2. Agreed Brock! If you look at content in the aggregate, there’s much, much more cheap programming than there is informative, investigative content. Sometimes I think that if the latter were more popular, we’d have 10 times the public TV channels that we do now!

    Thanks for your comment!

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