For decades, the cover was also how the fierce competition between Newsweek and Time was defined. In the 1960s, Newsweek became a "hot book" after three decades as a distant also-ran, thanks largely to its forward-looking covers on civil rights, Vietnam and the women's movement (not to mention Twiggy and LSD). In the 1970s, it was the cleverness of its cover designs as well as the depth of its reporting that wowed everyone who followed Newsweek's coverage of Watergate.When both magazines put a young Bruce Springsteen on the cover in the same week in 1975, it became conventional wisdom that we tried to copy each other. But the opposite was true: We were always looking to win the cover war, and we exulted when we did.
Images are so easy to come by online now, so original content matters more than ever. There was a fat clue in the quote above, about having a particular take on the news so as to make your publication stand out. Mother Jones and Reason carry on. Nobody buys those mags for the covers. Newsweek? Into the ash bin.
More and more old media is dying off, failing to evolve, refusing to understand what makes people want to pay for their content- or if people want to pay to view their content. Those that get it will survive and thrive, because there is no shortage of demand for news and opinion that is unique.