Ten covers that defined 2020

12 months ago the newspaper and magazines were delivering their seasonal fare: 2020 forecasts, New Year resolutions and holiday destinations. Little did they know that the world would be turned upside down by a global pandemic. In recent history one story hasnt dictated a year’s worth of magazine covers to such an extent, and media professionals have reacted quickly to the ever-changing coronavirus story. Here are my top 10 covers for 2020:

New Yorker
The New Yorker ran its first Covid-19 cover on 9 March featuring Brian Stauffer’s dramatic illustration of a bellowing Donald Trump wearing a face mask covering his eyes. It was the perfect image to represent the magazine’s take on the American response to the virus. Stauffer’s image was immediately iconic, and quickly became a favourite theme in online image libraries.

The UK’s Grazia magazine skipped its usual celebrity focus and commissioned Amit Lennon to take powerful ‘hero’ photos of front-line NHS health workers for four split covers in April. Glamorous locations were swapped for temporary studios in NHS car parks so the photos could be taken quickly and the professionals not kept from their work. 

Vogue magazine ran a similar treatment for its July split-run cover, with Jamie Hawkesworth’s immediately iconic photographs of 3 key workers celebrated for their courage in adversity.

The Big Issue
The Big Issue had to transform its business model during lockdown so it could continue trading and still make a difference to peoples’ lives. For the first time the magazine was sold on the news stand and on subscription, building a base of 10,000 subscribers in a month.

The weekly produces eye catching covers all year but this classic parody of the government guidelines stood out.

Daily Star 
The Daily Star caught the mood of the nation with it’s free “Do whatever the hell you want” Dominic Cummings cut-out face mask cover which lampooned the SPAD for his lockdown breaking trip to Barnard castle. The cover contributed to the tabloid’s average daily circulation rise of 5% month-on-month to 223,727. No other paid-for national newspaper grew its circulation by more than 3%. 

Cycling Weekly
Cycling was one of the activities to benefit from the lockdown. Bikes were unearthed from garages and pedalled like never before. Cycle use boomed as the perfect way to get about on quiet streets. And in a year with a curtailed sporting calendar, the Olympics postponed and many events cancelled, what remained of the world of cyclesport provided an exciting year in a reworked calendar. Cycle races retained their drama with a backdrop of stunning scenery despite the absence of fans.

Nicholas Parsons, Honor Blackman, and David Prowse passed away in 2020, but the death of Diego Maradona was the one story which united middle men in grief. The World Cup winner was memorialised across the globe. The British tabloid headlines punned the footballer’s ‘hand of God’ quote but the French sport daily, L’Equipe, captured the moment with their 26th November tribute of a young Maradona playing for his country.

During the early months of the year magazines needed to find new ways to construct photoshoots, conduct interviews and reflect the reality pdf life during lockdown. GQ achieved all of these with their ‘creativity in the time of quarantine’ cover featuring a homemade image from Robert Pattinson.

New York Times
As the number of Covid deaths in America approached 100,000 The Sunday edition front page listed the names of 1000 people from around the country who had died form the coronavirus. It was the first time in 40 years that the New York Times had not used a photo on its opening page

New Yorker
Adrian Tomine’s humorous illustration depicts the the search for love in a locked down world. Like many New Yorker covers it rewards the viewer when examined in more detail. Artefacts from the daily pandemic life are strewn around a room and hidden from the Zoom viewer as the illustration’s protagonist makes the best of her waist-up appearance.

Two campaigners, Marcus Rashford and Adwoa Aboah, featured on the cover of the 40 ‘face of hope’ issue. Rashford for his policy-changing campaign against child poverty and Aboah for her mental health activism.

The black and white photo of contrasting poses was taken by Misan Harriman, the first black male photographer in the magazine’s 104-year history to shoot a cover of British Vogue. All 26 international editions of Vogue were dedicated to the theme of hope.

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