Time magazine featured a critique of the United States' foreign policy and an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the cover of its September 16th edition. American readers did not see the critique, which ran throughout the rest of the world. The U.S. edition focused instead on college football.
The international edition, which is divided into three regions (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; Asia; and the South Pacific) all declare “America's weak and waffling, Russia's rich and resurgent.” In the U.S, Time's cover states, “It's Time To Pay College Athletes.” The Putin story is tucked in the corner and neutrally retitled, “What Putin Wants.”
Neil Munro of the Daily Caller insists that the magazine is deliberately “shielding Americans from the demoralizing picture... safely overlook[ing] a widely perceived fumble by President Barack Obama that left Russia to carry the ball in the Syrian war.”
The Atlantic's Philip Bump sarcastically questions, “Or maybe it was trying to shield the rest of the world from the divisive issue of whether or not we should pay college athletes (which we presume is also Obama's fault)?” The article goes on to defend the practice: “Time, an American magazine, has America-specific features all the time... This isn't a conspiracy; it's marketing.”
Yet, the article about Putin is America-specific in its subtitle, and mentions the U.S. another four times in the first three paragraphs.
Bump is correct in that the international editions pay no heed to American football. However, they do feature an article about China's space program that is not even in the American magazine. The article, “Under a Chinese Moon,” is quick to reference the U.S. The subtitle states, “Beijing's commitment to manned space flight is a reminder of what the U.S. could once do.” The piece begins with a harsh take on the U.S.:
Want to hear a piece of utter non-news? The U.S. is sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this month. Want to hear a piece of very big news? China is sending an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this year. That expedition is huge, even cosmically game changing. More to the point, it's perfectly legit to respond to such similar missions in such dissimilar ways.
As BuzzFeed acknowledges, covers are typically the same across the board. However, the site presents comparisons of various editions that inexplicably leave American readers out of the discussion of hot-button issues, even ones that directly involve the U.S. These include covers that read, “Why the U.S. Will Never Save Afghanistan,” and describe the “squandered hope” of America's military efforts. Others ranging in coverage from China's industrial power, to Europe's economic stability, and civil unrest in Pakistan are replaced with lighthearted images like school children and house pets for the U.S. audience.