New York Times Magazine Orders Illustration of 1,027 Tiny Palestinian Prisoners

New York Times Magazine editor in chief Hugo Lindgren made waves with this week’s cover story, an 8,000-word foreign policy report about Gilad Shalit, the young Israeli soldier held captive in Palestine, for whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

But even more memorable was the cover.

“Hugo Lindgren comes in my office and says he wants 1,028 little illustrated people on our cover,” design director Arem Duplessis tweeted. “Here’s the end result.”

The 1,027 tiny Palestinians and sole tiny Israeli—hand drawn by Tim Enthoven—made quite an impression, earning the Society of Publication Designer’s biweekly best cover award.

“This labor-intensive approach not only looks cool, it conveys an important point,” Mr. Lindgren wrote on the Times Magazine blog, “That each prisoner is an individual with his or her own identity.” Indeed, many of the Palestinians returned in prisoner swaps end up as high ranking Hamas members who kill more Israelis, author Ronen Bergman pointed out.

The memorable cover isn’t the only sign of evolution at the Sunday crossword vehicle. Mr. Lindgren has added two new recurring pages. The first, “Who Made That?” is a weekly column of material histories (last week it treated spray paint; this week, the rubber duck), by Dana Rubinstein and Times designer Hillary Greenbaum.

More innovative is “The One Page Magazine,” a new front-of-book assemblage of paragraph-long “features” apparently intended to skewer typical magazine forms. Eric Spitznagel’s “What the Kids Are Doing These Days” gives trumped-up youth trends (beards, “vandwelling”) the three-sentence treatments they merit; Dave Itzkoff distills “The Big Profile” into a celebrity sound byte, and, in “That Should Be a Word,” Lizzie Skurnick offers tech-inflected neologisms, like “clogin: One who blocks an entrance or exit while checking a smartphone.” (Rest in peace, “On Language.”)

With its mini info-graphics, Twitter-length reviews and blogger bylines, “The One Page Magazine” is not unlike peering into one’s recently refreshed Google reader, and quite a bit like Edith Zimmerman’s experimental Times Magazine column, “This Month on the Internet.” That got put on indefinite hiatus, but Ms. Zimmerman still contributes to the magazine, this week in the “Riff” space (that’s the one printed on blue), with an astute piece about the Internet, and how it confronts its users with their waning cultural relevancy at younger and younger ages. (Ms. Zimmerman is 28.)

That piece too might have yielded a splashy cover, according to the 6th Floor blog.

“Now if we thought like the legendary magazine designer George Lois did, we might have asked Edith to pose in a very dramatic and uncomfortable way,” Mr. Lindgren wrote, referring to the famous Esquire cover “The New American Woman: Done at 21,” in which a nude pin-up is folded into a trash can.

Alas, readers had to settle for a thousand tiny Middle Eastern soldiers and, as a consolation prize, one of the sillier corrections in recent Times history.

“The Riff column on Page 54 this weekend, about age and cultural relevance, misstates the author’s age in 1998, when a toy with a McDonald’s meal made sounds her grandmother could not hear. It was 15, not 8 or 9.”

Write it off as premature memory loss, induced by the Internet.


New York Times Magazine Orders Illustration of 1,027 Tiny Palestinian Prisoners