I Wish Condé Nast Traveler Would Stop Putting Supermodels On Their Cover

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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As part of my never-ending duties here as Editor-in-Chief of The Expeditioner, I like to keep abreast of travel news, trends and the latest stories in recent travel publications, and to do so, I attempt to be a well-informed, avid reader in the travel genre, which, in the case of Condé Nast Traveler, came in the form of a $10 Google Offer one day in my inbox.

I’ll admit, had it not been for the price, I probably wouldn’t be a subscriber, and I certainly wasn’t exactly rushing out to the newsstand every month to pick up the month’s latest issue. But now that I started receiving it, one thing began to really bother me: Why does every cover have a supermodel on it?

Now don’t get me wrong, I like supermodels just as much as the next guy, but does the travel magazine genre really need a lithe, 17-year-old Danish girl frolicking on the beach on every single cover? Are there no other subjects in the world of travel that could be put in her place, say an ancient monument, a surly ex-chef television travel host, or dare I say it, a local from the location the magazine is actually writing about?

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I mean look at the June issue. I have a feeling that if a teacher caught me with a copy of this issue in my backpack in middle school, I would’ve been sent to detention and maybe had a few sessions scheduled with the school counselor.

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I, like, totally love travel when it includes texting and stylists!

I mean I get it, sex sells, and when your product is a glossy magazine being put out from the same building in New York City where Anna Wintour lords over her dominion, there are certain pressures to adhere to a particular image. But it’s not exactly like the actual writing in the magazine is catering to whomever the cover is attempting to appeal to. Dare I say it, but the writing on several occasions is actually quite good — if not leaning toward the expense-account/investment banker retiree crowd.

So why can’t the cover reflect this? Why not have that recent feature article in the July issue about the emerging Scandinavian foodie scene be accompanied by a cover of a team of sweaty Danish chefs in the kitchen arranging reindeer jerky and spiced dirt on a plate? Would this truly result in a drop in sales, or would it simply cause the demographic of people whom that article would appeal to — educated, worldly, intellectually curious — to actually not be turned off by the slightly sexist cover and maybe pick up an issue of their own before boarding their flight?

I’m not saying they have to turn into National Geographic — even I get a little bored of pictures of volcanoes — but maybe mix in a rotation of talented travel photographers to shoot the monthly covers (God knows there are a few of them floating around who could use the work). Maybe feature an image of Ms. Gothenburg hiking the Inca Trail, or send Ms. Kournikova into the Borneo jungle for a shot with an isolated villager.

But please do something, I’m tired of getting accusatory looks in the hallway from my neighbors as I walk home with the newest issue. I’m reading it for the articles, I swear!

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