1 For New York’s latest issue, the magazine turned its eye to how the coronavirus suddenly occupied the minds of millions around the world. The cover was divisive. Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco wrote that it nails “life during a pandemic,” and the cover quickly became a visual touchpoint for media coverage around the crisis. But on Instagram and elsewhere, many commenters took issue with the reference to “the scariest time in America since 9/11.” @livschreiber, for instance, wrote, “This is ridiculous. To compare to 9/11?? This is what feeds hysteria. I’m in NY and surrounded by happy people running on West Side Highway!” Others criticized the design for being histrionic and unhelpful. @emelierod wrote, “As a trusted source of journalism for many, this feels really -irresponsible.” The designer -Steven Heller called it “the wrong cover at the wrong time … The best way to trigger panic is to enable panic. I realize that this cover is cleverly designed to illustrate what our city, state, country, and world are ‘feeling’ at this moment. But I ‘feel’ it does more harm as the meme of the moment than good. We need solutions, not more fear and chaos.” The coverage of the pandemic included an essay by Molly Fischer (“A City of Bodies,” March 16–29) that documented the personal transition from normal life in New York City to an altered reality of social distancing. Vanity Fair’s Claire Landsbaum called it a “lovely, scary essay … that reads like the beginning of Handmaid’s Tale.” @gdun tweeted, “This was incredibly well -written. You articulated things about the city that I’ve felt but never been able to put into words before.”
2 As the political response to the coronavirus ramped up, David Freedlander offered readers a front-row seat to New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s muscular, and much-lauded, response (“The Bully Governor Meets His Moment,” March 16–29). @hollsterbirt added, “I wish he was President right now, he is leading and Trump is not.” @besslevin was reminded of his leadership during previous times of crisis: “Remember him threatening to bury con-ed etc in a shallow grave if they didn’t get their shit together after hurricane sandy?” Even critics of the governor were -impressed by his response. @sethpoho tweeted, “Not the world’s biggest Cuomo fan, but I’ll say this—at least he’s trying to get solutions.”
3 In “This Will Get Worse” (March 16–29), New York’s business columnist Josh Barro wrote about the grim uncertainty around the coronavirus. @rain_juarez wrote, “Thank you for being candid about the unknowns. It’s a refreshing take.” @kyarilee01 agreed: “Wow, that was kind of depressing but thanks for not sugarcoating it.” Modena.brian commented, “Fair and accurate article … Mortality numbers are likely inaccurate at this point, but no one can deny what’s happened in Italy. It’s a pretty clear and apparent danger that needs attacking head on now instead of denial, excuses, and thoughts that help us sleep better at night and might align with our political party.” Whatthereynardsays wrote, “This is so sobering I poured myself a drink half way through.”
4 Online, New York’s writers and editors have reported extensively on the mounting crisis. For Intelligencer, Jeff Wise painstakingly detailed what the virus’ journey through the human body looks like (“How the Coronavirus Could Take Over Your Body — Before You Ever Feel It,” March 18). More than 3 million people read the report, and many responded by encouraging others to stay inside. BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza tweeted, “Read this to understand the importance of social distance. Not meant to scare but illustrates things nicely.” Julie Banderas of Fox News added, “Read this beginning to end. Then stay the f*** home please.” Others found the story unnecessarily alarmist. Ronny Langley wrote, “The public is looking for answers not to be put in a state of panic.” And denisestites said, “Why would this article be posted except to create more fear. We have many articles to read explaining the extent of this virus and what to expect and the best ways to get through it without creating more fear.” Commenter renotory responded to those critiques: “For those of you complaining that the article is ‘negative,’ maybe you should consider the huge percentage of the population (mostly younger people) who are not taking this virus -seriously. Observe the percentage of them heading to the beaches for spring break partying. There are a lot of people who are still trying to go to Hawaii to vacation, in spite of that state’s officials asking them not to. So you are wrong that this is a sensationalist article with no practical use. If the people who are reading it are motivated to change their behavior to help stop this virus, it will have had exactly the effect the author intended.”
*This article appears in the March 30, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!