Friday, February 05, 2010

What is Newsweek trying to tell me?

This week's cover of Newsweek is clever. The story is about antidepressant medicines and judges their efficacy.

Now, when I first saw the magazine, I was coming in the door with kids and books and thinking about dinner and things like that, the everyday chores and tasks that force us to keep moving forward and help those lucky ones not to consider being depressed.

A few days later I paused and actually looked at the cover and then I realized the clever design trick that had been staring me in the face the whole time. Of course you already know what it is--a dual cover that uses an optical illusion to illustrate the articles two opposing views.

On one side--what I'm calling the main side, antidepressants don't work. The pill shows a frowny face that is disapproving of pills and it telling you that depression is going to be your companion for the foreseeable future.

But the reverse side has a sunnier view. Flip the magazine around and watch that frown turn upside down!

Here all is good. The pill has a much sunnier disposition and positively beams down at you from the cover. It's almost like it enjoys being pinched between the drug-users nicely manicured fingers.

All of this is quite self-evident, I'm sure you would agree. But what I want to know is this:

Why did the magazine designers/printers/whomevers fix it so that only on the happy side can my name and address be read? What is being said to me by orienting things in this way? Because the way I first described it above is the proper orientation on a regular magazine cover. The space for the address label is always found in the bottom right corner and the name and address is always printed so that it can be read when you are looking at the magazine art in the proper reading orientation.

So, by flipping the address label space so that I must read it this way (---->), is Newsweek suggesting that I am depressed? Is Newsweek trying to tell me that I need medication?

(Or maybe I'm just paranoid?)

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