Traditional news outlets have taken a lot of flack in recent years for trading “hard news” coverage of politics and current affairs for softer, celebrity-oriented stories. But who knew that the news media’s oft-snubbed brethren, celebrity magazines, would step up to fill the void? For the past month or so, Us Weekly has done a number of stories on political figures, including an online interview with Barack Obama that caused the Website’s traffic to spike to record highs. Naturally, they are eager to follow up this success, and this week, The New Yorker’s Lizzie Widdicombe sat in on an editorial meeting with Us editor Janice Min and her team, where executive editor Catherine Romano came up with an idea for a story that combined celebrity with politics.
“There are a million people involved in the U.N.,” Romano said. “How about an activism story?”
Michael Steele, an executive editor, asked, “Should we build our own fake U.N., with celebrity heads and titles?”
Great idea, right? In fact, it was so good that the multi-Pulitzer-winning New York Times Magazine did pretty much the exact same thing this past weekend. It’s like Janice Min and Gerry Marzorati had total mind meld.