Time (magazine)

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This article is about Time (magazine) for other meanings see Time.

Time magazine is a weekly publication, based in New York City, bringing newsworthy items to the public in a format designed to be informative, yet concise and easy to read. The brainchild of Henry R. Luce, one the most significant people in twentieth-century media, and Briton Hadden, it was initially geared to the U.S. audience, but has expanded its worldwide circulation and now publishes several international editions. Its philosophy of telling the news through the eyes of people—not just as objective accounts of events—led to its popular feature, "Person of the Year," and inspired the development of People magazine. Its popular style and format, including the development of Time for Kids and an online edition, maintain its wide audience and ensure Time a role as an important and popular conveyor of information for the foreseeable future.

The Many Faces of TIME

Time (whose trademark is capitalized TIME) is a weekly American news magazine, that established the format followed by others such as Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. A European edition (Time Europe, formerly known as Time Atlantic) is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition (Time Asia) is based in Hong Kong. A Canadian edition (Time Canada) is based in Toronto. The South Pacific edition, covering Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney. In some advertising campaigns, the magazine has suggested that through a "backronym" the letters TIME stand for "Today Information Means Everything."


Time was co-founded in 1923 by Briton Hadden and Henry R. Luce, making it the first weekly news magazine in the United States. The two had previously worked together as chairman and managing editor of the Yale Daily News. Hadden was a rather carefree figure, who liked to tease Luce and saw Time as something important but also fun. That accounts for its tone, which many people still criticize as too light for serious news and more suited to its heavy coverage of celebrities (including politicians), the entertainment industry, and pop culture.

Time set out to tell the news through people, and for many decades the magazine's cover was of a single person. The first issue of Time was published on 1923, featuring on its cover Joseph G. Cannon, the retired speaker of the United States House of Representatives. People was originally inspired by Time's People page.

Luce and Hadden hired Roy Edward Larsen (although Larsen was a Harvard graduate and Luce and Hadden were Yale graduates). After Hadden died in 1929, Larsen purchased 550 shares of Time Inc., using money he obtained from selling stock that he had inherited from his father. Although after Hadden's death the largest Time Inc. stockholder was Luce, who ruled the media conglomerate in an autocratic fashion becoming a major figure in twentieth-century media, "at his right hand was Larsen" (Elson 1985). Time Inc.'s second-largest stockholder. In 1929, Larsen was also named a Time Inc. director and a Time Inc. vice-president.

According to Elson (1985), "Roy Edward Larsen was to play a role second only to Luce's in the development of Time Inc." Raymond Fielding (1977) also noted that Larsen was "originally circulation manager and then general manager of Time, later publisher of Life, for many years president of Time, Inc., and in the long history of the corporation the most influential and important figure after Luce" (Fielding 1977).

At the time of Luce's death in 1967, the Time Inc. stock that Luce owned was worth about US$109 million and yielded him a yearly dividend income of more than US$2.4 million, according to Curtis Prendergast (1986). The value of the Larsen family's Time Inc. stock was worth about $80 million during the 1960s, and Larsen was both a Time Inc. director and the chairman of its executive committee, before serving as Time Inc.'s vice-chairman of the board until the middle of 1979. According to the September 10, 1979 issue of The New York Times, "Mr. Larsen was the only employee in the company's history given an exemption from its policy of mandatory retirement at age 65."

After Time magazine began publishing its weekly issues in March 1923, Larsen was able to increase its circulation by utilizing U.S. radio and movie theaters around the world to promote both Time magazine and the politics of the U.S. corporate interests which Time Inc. served. According to Fielding (1977), "As early as 1924, Larsen had brought Time into the infant radio business with the broadcast of a 15-minute sustaining quiz show entitled 'Pop Question' which survived until 1925." Then, "In 1928 … Larsen undertook the weekly broadcast of a 10-minute program series of brief news summaries, drawn from current issues of Time magazine … which was originally broadcast over 33 stations throughout the United States" (Fielding 1977).

Larsen next arranged for a 30-minute radio program, entitled "The March of Time," to be broadcast over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), beginning on March 6, 1931. Each week, his "The March of Time" radio program presented a dramatization of the week's news for its listeners. As a result of this radio program, Time magazine was brought "to the attention of millions previously unaware of its existence" (Elson 1985), and this led to an increased circulation of the magazine during the 1930s. Between 1931 and 1937, Larsen's "The March of Time" radio program was broadcast over CBS radio and between 1937 and 1945 it was broadcast over the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio, except for the 1939 to 1941 period when it was not aired.

Time became part of Time Warner in 1989 when Warner Communications and Time, Inc. merged. Since 2000, the magazine has been part of AOL Time Warner, which subsequently reverted to the name Time Warner in 2003.

Time Online, the Internet version, contains archives of all magazines (and covers) published since the first issue in 1923.


Time has always had its own writing style, parodied most famously in 1938 by Wolcott Gibbs in an article in The New Yorker: "Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind. ... Where it all will end, knows God." The early days of incessantly inverted sentences and "beady-eyed tycoons" and "great and good friends," however, have long since vanished.

Time is also known for its signature red border, which changed only once in the magazine's 80-year history—the issue released shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which featured a black border to show mourning.

The format of Time, which became standard among news magazines, consists of a large number of short articles summarizing information of general interest and newsworthy significance concerning current events. The articles are organized by department, which include such fields as the arts, book reviews, business, education, law, medicine, religion, science, sports, as well as national and international affairs. Photographs are widely used to illustrate the material.

The magazine has only ever published one official editorial, in 1974, calling for the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


Despite its rather carefree and entertainment-oriented approach, Time has also been involved in its share of controversies.

One notable controversy arose in the summer of 1994. After O.J. Simpson was arrested for allegedly murdering his wife and her friend, multiple publications carried his mugshot. Notably, Time published an edition featuring an altered mugshot, darkening his skin and reducing the size of the prisoner ID number (Time, June 24, 1994). This appeared on newsstands right next to an unaltered picture by Newsweek. Outcry from minority rights groups followed. Time illustrator Matt Mahurin was the one to alter the image, saying later that he "wanted to make it more artful [sic], more compelling."

Person of the Year

The magazine's most famous feature over its eighty years has been the annual Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) cover story, in which Time recognizes the individual, or group of individuals, who have had the greatest effect on the year's news, for good or ill.

Despite the title, the recipient is not necessarily a person—for instance, in 1983 the personal computer was recognized as "Machine of the Year."


The tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” began in 1927, when Time editors contemplated what they could write about during a slow news week. Primarily, they sought to remedy an editorial embarrassment from earlier that year when the magazine did not put aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. At the end of the year, they came up with the idea of a cover story about Charles Lindbergh being the "Man of the Year."

Since then, a person, group of people (either a team of select individuals or a demographic category), or in two special cases, an invention and the planet Earth, has been selected for a special issue at the end of every year. In 1999, the title was changed to Person of the Year.

However, the only women to win the renamed award were those in 2002 who were recognized as "The Whistleblowers" and, jointly with Bill Gates and Bono, Melinda Gates in 2005. Four women were awarded the title when it was still Man of the Year: Corazon Aquino in 1986, Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, Soong Mei-ling in 1937 and Wallis Simpson in 1936. However women were also included in several groups, namely "Hungarian Freedom Fighters" in 1956, "U.S. scientists" in 1960, "Baby boomers" in 1966, "The Middle Americans" in 1969, and of course, "American Women" in 1975.

Since 1927, every president of the United States has been a “Person of the Year” at least once with the exceptions of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford.

The December 31, 1999 issue of Time named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mohandas Gandhi were chosen as runners-up.

The magazine's Time for Kids, targeted at grade school and junior high students, has begun selecting a "person of the year" independent of the main magazine's selection. In 2005, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling was named.

People of the Year


The title "Person of the Year" is frequently mistaken as being an honor. Many, including some members of the American media, continue to wrongly perpetuate the idea that the position of "Person of the Year" is a reward or prize, despite the magazine's frequent statements to the contrary. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that many admirable people have been given the title—perhaps the majority. Thus, journalists will frequently describe a new person of the year as having "joined the ranks" of past winners such as Martin Luther King, Jr. The fact that people such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were also granted the title for their impact on the world is less well-known.

There was a massive public backlash in the United States after Time named Ayatollah Khomeini as "Man of the Year" in 1979. Since then, Time has generally shied away from choosing controversial candidates. Although on occasion this strategy has backfired.

Time's Person of the Year 2001—in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks—was New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. It was a somewhat controversial result; many thought that Giuliani was deserving, but many others thought that the rules of selection ("the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news" which does not necessary mean the best human being of the year) made the obvious choice Osama bin Laden.

It is interesting to note that the issue which declared Rudolph Giuliani as "Person of the Year" included an article that mentioned Time's earlier decision to make Ayatollah Khomeini as "Man of the Year" in 1979 and the 1999 rejection of Hitler as "Person of the Century." The article seemed to imply that Osama bin Laden was a stronger candidate than Giuliani for "Person of the Year" and Hitler was a stronger candidate than Albert Einstein for "Person of the Century," but they were not ultimately selected due to what the magazine described as their "negative" influence on history.

According to stories in respected newspapers, Time's editors anguished over the choice, reasonably fearing that selecting the al-Qaeda leader might offend readers and advertisers. Bin Laden had already appeared on its covers on October 1, November 12, and November 26. Many readers expressed dissatisfaction at the idea of seeing his face on the cover again. In the end, Giuliani's selection led some to criticize that Time had failed to uphold its own declared standards.

In recent years, the choices for "Person of the Year" have also been criticized for being too "Americentric," which is a departure from the original tradition of recognizing foreign political leaders and thinkers. Until Bono received the title in 2005, Time had gone over a decade without recognizing a non-American individual.

In the Internet vote for "Person of the Year," both professional wrestler Mick Foley (in 1998) and Japanese television performer Masashi Tashiro (in 2001) were chosen as "Person of the Year" by block votes (These vote results were later deemed invalid by Time).

Time For Kids

Written by young reporters, Time For Kids (TFK) is a division magazine of Time that is especially published for children and is mainly distributed in the classrooms of grade schools as an educational tool. TFK contains some national news, a "Cartoon of the Week," and a variety of articles concerning popular culture that young U.S. citizens may be interested in. An annual issue concerning the environment is distributed near the end of the U.S. school term. The publication hardly ever reaches above 15 pages front and back.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Elson, Robert. 1985. Time Inc.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise 1923-1941. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0689100779
  • Fielding, Raymond. 1977. The March of Time, 1935-1951. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195022122
  • Prendergast, Curtis. 1986. The World of Time Inc: The Intimate History of A Changing Enterprise 1960-1989. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689113153
  • Time cover June 24, 1994 featuring O.J. Simpson's altered mugshot

External links

All links retrieved April 30, 2023.


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