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Today's Parade Insert in the L.A. Times

has a big picture of Benazir Bhutto, with the headline "Is Benazir Bhutto America's best hope against al-Qaeda? 'I Am What the Terrorists Most Fear.' An interview from Pakistan by Gail Sheehy."

I know these things are printed some days before they're distributed -- still, given that she was assassinated 10 days ago, couldn't something have been done? Even an insert noting the situation and explaining the time lag might be better than nothing, though I'd think that even a total reprint would be justified, despite the costs. And, yes, I know it's just Parade, but it's inserted in the Times, and reflects on the Times' brand as well.

Barbara Skolaut (mail):
"reflects on the Times' brand as well"

Since it's only 10 days behind actual events, it's an improvement on the Times' brand (or lack thereof).
1.6.2008 6:47pm
dcuser (mail):
It would be interesting to know whether any of the newspapers that distribute Parade tried to pull the insert. In fact, they may not even have been allowed to do so -- Parade may have a contractual entitlement to distribution, perhaps with no content veto by an newspaper. (Otherwise, given the large number of distributing newspapers, it would obviously be hard for Parade to guarantee its advertisers a given number of eyeballs any week.)
1.6.2008 6:49pm
Mike& (mail):
Parade may have a contractual entitlement to distribution, perhaps with no content veto by an newspaper.


This is a great point. While I think that the Times is embarrassing in many respects, the post does reflect the all-too-common practice of concluding the "MSM" made a mistake before enough facts are in evidence.

If the Times has no "veto power," then its decision to no exercise a (non-existent) veto does not at all reflect on its brand.

I don't know either way, and thus have no opinion on the matter.
1.6.2008 7:13pm
Jim Anderson (www):
I'm glad it's still included. It's not only a collectible, but a perfect "teachable moment" for this English teacher / debate coach.
1.6.2008 7:37pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
My local paper had a box on the front page explaining that the issue of Parade had been printed before her assassination.
1.6.2008 7:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Last year, the same magazine published an "update on the status of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro", that reported the horse was making great progress and doing fine.

This was over 2 weeks after the horse died.
1.6.2008 8:05pm
kimsch (mail) (www):
The Chicago Tribune printed this on page two bottom of the first column:


The cover of this Sunday's Parade magazine features an interview with Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader who was assassinated Dec. 27.

The interview by author Gail Sheehy took place in Pakistan in late November when Bhutto was campaigning. Pakistan's parliamentary elections scheduled for next Thursday have been delayed.

Parade Publisher and President Randy Siegel said any attempt to update the issue after the assassination would have cost "millions and millions of dollars."

Also Siegel said, tight production and distribution schedules might have jeopardized delivery to many newspapers and their readers. Parade prints 22 million copies weekly and contracts distribution with more than 400 U.S. newspapers. The Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe are among Parade's largest clients.

The cover story headlines quote Bhutto saying "I Am What The Terrorists Most Fear" and asks: Is Benazir Bhutto America's best hope against al-Qaeda? Parade concluded that the interview would still be of interest to many readers, even after her tragic assassination.
1.6.2008 8:30pm
George Weiss (mail):
Washington post insert had no explanation either
1.6.2008 8:37pm
TerrencePhilip:
Food for thought: 15 years ago, when the internet had not eroded print outlets' circulation as badly as it has today, do you think Parade would've eaten the cost to reprint?
1.6.2008 8:38pm
Andrew W:
Just spoke to my father in D.C. The Post carried Parade without correction as well.
1.6.2008 8:41pm
Dave N (mail):
I can understand local papers including the Parade insert. I cannot fathom why some newspapers did not think to include an explanatory note like several obviously did.
1.6.2008 8:53pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

If the Times has no "veto power," then its decision to no exercise a (non-existent) veto does not at all reflect on its brand.


Subscribers don't know the contractual obligations, so the decision not to exercise a non-existing veto reflects on its brand anyway. Its just becomes fodder for negotiation of terms in the next contract renewal.
1.6.2008 8:55pm
Malvolio:

If the Times has no "veto power," then its decision to no exercise a (non-existent) veto does not at all reflect on its brand.
Subscribers don't know the contractual obligations, so the decision not to exercise a non-existing veto reflects on its brand anyway.
The decision to sign a contract giving up control over the content of its own newspaper would reflect on the Times brand (in my mind at least) far worse than the inclusion of any stale-but-poignant article.
1.6.2008 9:10pm
Rich B. (mail) (www):
NPR had a story about it today, interviewing Parade's editor, who came off as an idiot, essentially saying, "It's about money, but I can't say it's about money, so instead I will say that it was a journalistic decision."

link
1.6.2008 9:14pm
kimsch (mail) (www):
Rich B. If you see the quoted material from the Tribune above, they quote the Randy Siegel as saying that it would have cost "millions and millions of dollars." That's definitely about the money, but a somewhat vague amount...
1.6.2008 9:19pm
byomtov (mail):
A poor reflection on the "Times brand?"

Isn't this the paper that publishes a column by Jonah Goldberg? You can't gt much lower than that.
1.6.2008 9:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
The newspaper I work for ran a page one box explaining the time lag. It also promoted the interview as a hot topic, which it certainly is.

Parade is 99% schlock, and if I were editor we wouldn't buy it. My editor thinks readers like it, so he buys it, and I bet he's right.

I tbink Professor Volokh is making a mountain out of a molehill. Times readers already know Bhutto is dead. It was reported in the Times. They can figure out that the interview was conducted before she was killed and not after; they don't need a note.

Now, if it was a filmed interview for Oprah, I'd say different.
1.6.2008 9:35pm
Jay:
"Parade is 99% schlock, and if I were editor we wouldn't buy it. My editor thinks readers like it, so he buys it, and I bet he's right."

Oh come on, you know you turn to Marilyn vos Savant first thing every Sunday morning.
1.6.2008 9:45pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Sorry, Eugene, but they actually did run such a correction. My copy of today's issue included an explanation that the issue of Parade was printed before Bhutto's death. Such corrections usually run on page A2 below the contents and I presume that's where today's appeared, but I don't have my paper with me at the moment and can't check.
1.6.2008 10:03pm
Pub Editor:
The Knoxville News Sentinel ran this notice on the front page:

Today's Parade
magazine was printed
before the Dec. 27
assassination of Benazir
Bhutto. It features one of
the last interviews given
by the former Pakistan
prime minister.
1.6.2008 10:29pm
neurodoc:
In our house, Parade gets tossed straight away with all the advertising inserts that are of no interest to us. (No bird, so no need for something to line the bottom of a bird cage.)

No big deal that this "fan mag" interview appeared in Parade after Bhutto's death. Those papers carrying the supplement should have caveated it, though, with something like, "It has been alleged that while Ms. Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan, her government encouraged the Muslim fundamentalist Taliban to send jihadis to Kashmir in order that they might serve as a spear there in the side of Pakistan's neighbor India."
1.6.2008 10:45pm
Jim Anderson (www):
Actually, neurodoc, Sheehy describes her as "ruthlessly ambitious, devious, and corrupt," and goes on at length about the controversies in her career. It's not exactly a "fan mag" interview. (I stole the insert from my parents' paper. In their house, Parade goes straight to the recycling.)
1.6.2008 11:16pm
neurodoc:
Jim Anderson, thanks for correcting me on my assumption that this must have been another "secular saint" profile of Benazir Bhutto. (Surprising that anything more than a "fan mag" interview would appear in Parade, but Gail Sheehy does have some cred for her profiles.) When we return home tomorrow, the Washington Post should be at our door, and this time I will look at Parade rather than tossing it unopened along with the other Sunday inserts.

It was interesting to see that in the first Week in Review (12/30/07) after her assassination, the NYT discussed how her image was so effectively managed in this country by her friends and supporters, while saying nothing in any way critical of her. Then this week, the NYT had an op-ed column by William Darymple, who accused Bhutto of having encouraged the Taliban during her terms in office. And then on Saturday, the NYT had another column about Bhutto in which Darymple was cited as an authority, but without any mention of the pro-Taliban accusation.
1.7.2008 12:08am
neurodoc:
Oh yeah, not only did Bhutto have nothing to do with sending jihadis to promote peace in Kashmir, she was also absolutely in the dark about Pakistan's nuclear undertaking, and she surely knew nothing about her husband depositing 100s of millions of stolen dollars into their overseas bank accounts.
1.7.2008 12:17am
K Parker (mail):
reflects on the Times' brand as well.
Eugene, don't you ever read Patterico? Reading his Year In Review, it's hard to come away with the feeling that the paper cares all that much about its brand.
1.7.2008 12:42am
alias:
I don't know... now that she's been assassinated, her interview seems even more relevant, particularly her contention that the terrorists fear her "most."

I suppose a note would have been appropriate, but it's not as if people reading the article wouldn't realize that Bhutto was interviewed before she was killed.
1.7.2008 1:16am
Baseballhead (mail):
...but it's not as if people reading the article wouldn't realize that Bhutto was interviewed before she was killed.

Heh. An interview after she was killed would have been a really big get.
1.7.2008 3:00am
Jim O'Sullivn (mail) (www):
As a kid, I remember reading in Walter Scott's Personality Parade" (does Parade still have it?) that Che Guevara was believed to be in Bolivia, trying to foment another revolution, about a week and a half after his death was made public. Mr Scott was right - at the time he wrote, that is.
To get a dead-tree magazine distributed, not directly to your readers, but to a hundred dirrerent newspapers for their Sunday editions, must require a lot of lead time. In this era,it's probably too much lead time, as this unfortunate incident shows.
1.7.2008 9:35am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
The magazine doesn't have to be distributed on dead trees. It can be distributed electronically and printed locally. (There would still be a lead time, because the newspapers aren't going to maintain enough printing capacity to produce and distribute the Sunday paper in the same timeframe as they produce a daily paper.)

For a complaint about Parade magazine late last week (and how much lead time is there in a comic?) see here.
1.7.2008 11:51am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Edward Hoffman: By "an insert noting the situation" I meant an insert that readers would see right before they saw the out-of-date Parade cover (in full color, with the story occupying the whole front page), or right at the time they saw it — perhaps some wrapper so noting, or at least a sheet placed in the newspaper that would be immediately next to the Parade section. I didn't mean a note on page A2 of the main section, far removed from the out-of-date cover of the Parade section, which Parade readers might not even think of looking at.
1.7.2008 12:34pm
Ken Tolbert (mail) (www):
The manufacturing guys over at Evolving Excellence have some comments on how long publication lead times created the Parade fiasco with the Bhutto article. Interesting about how the digital files are created in India and the publication outsourcing demands.

Link

Ken
1.7.2008 1:20pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Maybe Parade needs to stick to discussing things that aren't current events. Maybe write about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings or something.
1.7.2008 3:55pm
sognatrice (mail):
Did nobody see the Drudge link to the Parade interview immediately after her assassination? Parade acknowledged they had Bhutto's last interview and would be moving forward with the long-planned cover despite her death.
1.7.2008 11:12pm