Palin irked by cover shot

2009-11-19 14:08
 This image provided by Newsweek shows the news magazine's November 23 cover. (AP)

This image provided by Newsweek shows the news magazine's November 23 cover. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Of all the adjectives one might use to describe Newsweek's current Sarah Palin cover, "unflattering" probably isn't one of them.

But Palin says the cover's posed shot of her in running gear, including short black shorts - a photo originally taken for Runner's World magazine - was out of context and sexist. And even some who aren't fans say she has a point.

The photo in question shows a smiling Palin, who on Wednesday launched her national book tour, standing near a folded American flag draped over a chair, hand on her hip. She's wearing a long-sleeved red athletic top, running shoes, and the aforementioned shorts.

It's a far cry from the photo Newsweek used on its cover a year ago, a close-up in sharp detail, which many of her supporters criticised as unflattering because it showed her skin pores and a few wrinkles.

This time, it's just the former Alaska governor looking trim and fit. But Palin expressed her dismay on her Facebook page. "The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now," she wrote her fans on the site, who now number over a million. She also accused the magazine of "focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant" in its coverage of her.

Over 3 000 fans responded.

"Sarah, don't worry about it," wrote one, David Pearl. "They are just jealous they do not look that good in shorts and are not as smart. Just consider it free publicity to help sell the book."

Cheap shot

"It was a cheap shot, and that's all they have!" wrote another, Deborah Ann Stroscheim. "They are just trying to sell the mag."

Few would dispute that last part. "The main consideration for covers is, what will draw attention?" said Kenny Irby of the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St Petersburg, Florida. "There's no question that people will pay a lot of attention to this cover."

The issue, Irby said, is one of context. The photo is accompanied by the headline: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She's Bad News for the GOP (Republican Party) - And For Everybody Else, Too." And that leads to a whole different interpretation, Irby noted, than if you were looking at it in Runner's World, where it originally ran in August.

"The image is not sexist," said Irby, who specialises in visual journalism. "The words are more damaging and questionable. The powerful pairing is the issue. Why did they use this photo - where half the frame is her legs - when they had thousands to choose from?" In his own opinion, Irby said, "It's a pretty underhanded shot at her credibility."

Newsweek issued an official statement on Tuesday defending the photo choice.

"We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do," said the statement, from editor Jon Meacham. "We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard."

But was Palin right to charge that the photo was unfairly used out of context - a perfect image for a running magazine, but inappropriate for a news weekly? "I think she's got a point," said media ethicist Kelly McBride, also at Poynter.

'It wasn't totally right of her to pose for that photo in the first place'

On the other hand, McBride added, "If I were posing in running gear and I were as controversial as Sarah Palin, I would stipulate the boundaries on that."

To Newsweek managing editor Daniel Klaidman, Palin, as a public figure, must have known that the photo could be used elsewhere.

"If you're going to be in the arena, you've got to know that when you pose for a magazine that picture might appear elsewhere," Klaidman said in a telephone interview. "She's a public figure. We cover her."

Also, he pointed out, the photo is consistent with the image that Palin likes to portray. "She's cultivated this persona: Outdoorsy, folksy," he said of the former vice presidential candidate, who's spoken to the media dressed in fishing waders. "It's authentic, but she also knows it plays to her base."

In any case, Christi Lowell, a Palin friend on Facebook from Chicago, wondered why Palin would have posed for a photo like that anyway.

"It wasn't totally right of her to pose for that photo in the first place," Lowell, 39, noted in a telephone interview.

"And the photo IS attractive," noted Lowell, a housewares company sales manager. "It's also motivating. She's in shape! Just like President Obama." (Who, it must be said, appeared on the cover of The Washingtonian not long ago shirtless, in a bathing suit - a paparazzi shot from a Hawaii vacation.)

But, Lowell said, it would have been better for Newsweek to use a different shot. "What's wrong is that the article was about politics," Lowell said.

"Couldn't they have just put her in a suit?"

Read more on:    newsweek  |  sarah palin


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24


Autobraking: See just how good they are!

Just how good are automatic brakes on cars these days? Two VW models have been praised by top UK research centre Thatcham. Find out why...


Stay safe

Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Mom's driving-school dream come true
Traffic Alerts

Something may be concerning you and this puts a dampener on your spirits. You may need to take a closer look into documents, more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.