Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Is This Template Too Humble?

I'm just getting around to reading the January/February 2007 issue of The Atlantic (cover story: "Why Presidents Lie"), and what do I find but notice of a re-design of the magazine. In a short summary credited only to "The Editors," the thinking behind the new look is described:

The design of The Atlantic has always been so self-effacing, so quietly subordinate to the magazine's stories, essays, and poems, that it seems somehow out of keeping to draw your attention to the redesign in your hands. But it deserves an introduction. This new design, the result of more than a year's preparation, grew out of concerns expressed by our readers and staff that the layout seemed a little too humble.

Ah yes, that's what life is like once one has attained the lofty perch of Atlantic editor: you spend your days sifting through emails from readers complaining about how your magazine's layout is too humble.

I'm normally a big fan of the magazine, but what on earth is that even supposed to mean? That the design wasn't noticable enough? That it wasn't as good as the stories? That it was excellent but people didn't appreciate it? And really, as long as one is capable, is there really such a thing as being "too humble"?

Clearly, their 150th anniversary ("We published Nathaniel Hawthorne!") has rotted their brains, causing them acquire Severe Pretentious Publishing Syndrome. It usually strikes solely in New York, but publications based in Boston and/or DC have been known to suffer as well.


No comments: