Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Time-Challenged by the Challenger

I recently ran across the February 10, 1986, edition of Time magazine. Its cover date is a full 13 days after the Challenger explosion, yet that's what is on the cover. Almost two weeks after the event. Boy, has media changed. It's easy to forget how long things used to take.

The previous issue, which came out five days after the disaster, featured a cover about Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos. I wonder if it even mentioned the Challenger, or if the production deadlines were just too long to allow for any coverage?

Other things of note about the issue:
  • It's 90 pages long. The current issue on the newsstand is a lot less than that. 
  • It has an ad for the People Express airline and lots of others for dead techy companies like DEC and ITT.
  • It contains stories about Rudy Giuliani before anyone outside of New York City knew who he was ("The Passionate Prosecutor: U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani snares mobsters and headlines"), the beginnings of outsourcing of government services, and the Grace Commission's Ridley Scott-created ad portraying the Deficit Trials of 2017. Ha! Remember that? Maybe some billionaire should fund an ad called the Global Warming Trials of 2052.
  • The books section provides a review of A Handmaid's Tale that tells us, "As a cautionary tale, Atwood's novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic." Wow, did that reviewer miss the point.
It ends with an obituary of L. Ron Hubbard. No kidding.


Carl said...

Each issue's cover date is a week ahead of its publication date. So the Challenger disaster appeared on the cover of the first issue to be published after it happened.

Daughter Number Three said...

Ah, good point, Carl. I had forgotten that odd practice. When you're a regular reader it doesn't matter too much, but when the issues get put into an archive, it can make for some jarring date/event mismatches.