An upscale men's magazine decided to praise their favorite magazine editors' work, declaring boldly a "New Golden Age" on its cover. Except there's one small diversity problem: all the editors basking in this new golden age are white dudes.
Citing a rise in magazine launches and advertising sales, Port magazine editor-in-chief Dan Crowe felt it was time to make a statement about the publishing world he operates in. "There is no doubt about it: we are entering a new golden age of magazine publishing, an age where the magazine is supported by the website and app," he writes. The Internet didn't kill the magazine like everyone thought it would. In fact, he argues, it's doing the opposite. "It’s this ‘support’ that people thought would be the death of the magazine. In fact, with the ‘cross media platform’ working well, it’s formidable to have a magazine, a format that readers and advertisers still adore." So he decided to single out the work of some editors he admires: GQ editor Jim Nelson, Wired editor Scott Dadich, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, The New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren, Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel and New York editor Adam Moss.
They are all esteemed editors often cited as some of the best in the business. Of this there is no doubt. But they are also all male and all white. Look at how white this cover is:
Media criticism is not really the the mainstay of a title like Port, an luxury men's quarterly out of London, for men, by (mostly) men that's about art, culture and clothes and is frequently mentioned alongside Peter Kaplan's M Magazine. White guys like Paul Thomas Anderson and Will Ferrell have appeared on the last six covers of the quarterly, so the all-white dude lineup of the "New Golden Age" issue wasn't out of keeping. But if they were going to put six guys on the cover, why not find at least one editor who is a person of color or female or both? What about The Hollywood Reporter's Janice Min? Or Vogue's Anna Wintour? Harper's Glenda Bailey? Cosmopolitan's Joanna Coles? None are on Port's cover.
For their efforts, Port is getting taken to task on Twitter and other realms of the Internet. "Don't you buncha jerks dare forget about the relevance of white men at legacy brands!" said Gawker's Cord Jefferson. "The 'new golden age of publishing' only features white men, obvi," added Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray. "Hey [Port magazine], you don't admire a single lady magazine editor?" wondered Spry's Katie Neal. "If I'd known all it took to make a Golden Age was a bunch of white dudes in suits I'd've started one a long time ago," chimed another. It was posted to the 100 Percent Men tumblr real quick. "So, based on the makeup of Crowe’s expert panel, are we meant to conclude that white men are the future of magazines?" Salon's Katie McDonough asks. "In which case, shouldn’t Port re-title its feature to something like 'a new pale, male age' of magazines or something more descriptive of its content?" That doesn't seem like a half bad idea. And so on and so on the outrage train went.
There's nothing Port can do to change the cover now, really. If anything, it points to a larger problem that's not new at all: the magazine world is not diverse and dominated by white males. It's changing ever so slightly, but hardly enough to declare the current age golden — or any other not-pale hue.