June 29th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Diana and Kate Newsweek cover blasted as 'ghoulish' and in 'bad taste'

Newsweek and its new editor Tina Brown aren't just reporting the news, they've become the story this week after publishing a computer-generated cover photo showing Princess Diana and Kate Middleton side by side.

The women are dressed similarly, wearing hats, their heads facing toward each other as if they are walking together. The cover accompanies a fictional piece Brown authored which imagines how Di's life might have turned out had she not died in a 1997 car crash in Paris. Another couple of photos inside in the magazine are eye-catching. They are of Diana and the daughter-in-law she never knew wearing similar red dresses.

The issue is pegged to what would have been Diana's 50th birthday on Friday.

Here's a sampling of Brown's take on Diana in 2011: "Gliding sleekly into her 40s, her romantic taste would have moved to men of power over boys of play."

Diana would have had a Facebook page with millions of followers and named "Bridget Jones' Diary" as one of her favorite movies. She would have lived in a New York City loft and been married at least twice to men on both sides of the Atlantic. She would have enjoyed front-row seating next to Victoria Beckham during New York's Fashion Week, owned an iPhone and  been totally devoted to philanthropic causes when not doting on sons Harry and William.

Many have found the digital manipulation of Diana and Brown's imagining of the princess' future revolting.

The London Telegraph called the cover photo "ghoulish" and dubbed Brown "Newsweek's grave robber."  The newspaper supposes Newsweek's motivation was to sell magazines. E! Online wrote a story titled "Bad taste alert!"  Jezebel, which reports on issues related to women, penned a reaction under the headline "Undead Princess Strolls with Kate Middletown on Ridiculous Newsweek Cover."  Mediaite's Lizzie Manning said she didn't take issue with Brown's creative prose. It was the photos that creeped Manning out , more than Brown's writing. Popular blog Cafemom criticized Brown in an open letter to her, addressing Brown as Bonnie Fuller, the American magazine editor famous for print tabloid entertainment.

"You took a woman who has been dead for 14 years and made up an entire story about what she would look like, where she would be living (the Big Apple of course!), what she would be doing (apparently lots of Botox!), and perhaps most importantly, what she would be wearing (Galliano - the anti-Semite - and J.Crew a la Michelle Obama!) ... if she were still alive today," Cafemom wrote. "This is pure brilliance. I've never understood why a magazine called Newsweek would waste its time having reporters write about current events or world affairs when it could simply make up stuff."

The British Brown, new to the helm at the news magazine, formerly edited the New Yorker and founded the Daily Beast. She is well-known for her observations about British politics and culture, as well as American culture.

Wednesday morning, Brown explained why she wrote the story the way she did.

"I wanted to make her a time traveler," she said, adding that she viewed Diana as a "global, mover shaker kind of woman."

"She loved the limelight but she would have professionalized all that humanitarian giving," Brown said. "She would have been very much a woman of our time."

The Newsweek package isn't without straight reporting. The magazine highlights causes Diana championed by tracking how much good they've done after her death.

And the magazine isn't the only media outlet pondering what Diana would have been like at 50. The U.K.'s Daily Express newspaper also published a digitally aged image of Diana's face. It also is not the first magazine to attempt a fictionalized story about a famous and beloved life cut short. In April 2008, Esquire magazine imagined, in narrative form, what actor Heath Ledger's last few days alive might have been like. Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose that year. The magazine's editor at the time insisted the piece was neither stunt nor gimmick.

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soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. Daiy

    The problem is not considering how offensive Diana's family may find all this. Few people would consider this acceptable. Just out of respect for the family ,this cover and article should never have been produced. Newsweek owes the family a sincere apology.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Heather

    This is the journalistic equivalent of shameless forum trolling, and it worked.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sue

    Diana and I share the same birthday. She's one year younger. Walking past the magazine stand and seeing her face on the cover "at 50" gave me the creeps. I lost my Mom 2 months after Diana. I would like to remember my Mom as she was, I don't try to picture her now. I loved Diana and I loved my Mom. Let them rest in peace.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SomeSense

    This is not in bad taste. It is simply dumb. A) contrary to the text, they're not looking at each other B) They're dressed "similarly" because they have hats on? Is Newsweek really this desperate for a cover picture?

    June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Buck in California

    I found the article thought provoking and the photo intriguing.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carl Seitan

    I'm sorry, but why is this offensive? Low content, shallow articles are nothing new. But, all of the outrage over the photo sounds like people just wanting to be offended about something.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Douglas

    Bad taste? Not really. Pointless? Yup.

    June 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    Totally inappropriate action by a member of the media.

    June 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pat

    The cover is ghoulish and macabre. And no one knows what Diana would have done or would be like had she not died when she did. The magazine did it to increase their publication. Let Diana alone.

    June 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. StanleyBing

    Seriously, how dimwitted is Tina Brown and the fools who gave her this job?

    June 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • RachelB

      I agree with you !

      July 1, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      I agree, this is NEWSWEEK for gods sake, not the Enquirer! Big difference. You really expect a more proffesional scale in journalism.

      July 2, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. perla

    medias are mad cause they didn't publish it first... 😛

    July 1, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. RachelB in NC

    How hurt William and Harry must be -each day dealing with the fact their mother is still gone and Newsweek allowing this – using Diana's image to sell mags and make money off of William and Harry's terrible misfortunue. As a mother of 2 boys myself -how LOW. How do you think these photos of their "computer aged mother" made these two boys feel -REALLY!???!!!! Do you think they would be excited and yell "Hey Mom! -and talk to a photo" NO!!!!!!!!!! IDIOTS. These two boys have been through enough. If the Royals respond, that's giving you more to brag about and enough is enough. I know I am boycotting Newsweek. Everyone misses Diana and the fact is she is gone. Some things are better left unsaid and unwished upon. Newsweek, like you wouldn't have sold 1 magazine for the entire month of July using an old photo of the beautiful Diana with a tasteful headline like "We Remember You Diana". I expected this kind of behavior out of the National Enquirer and not Newsweek.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Brian Olsen

    This story may be silly but there is nothing ghoulish about it. Saying it's ghoulish gives other media something to write about.

    July 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mardsgn

    and the new editor of newsweek reclines behind his desk and maybe sips on his scotch after hours... viewing the various criticisms on the http://www... with a big smile... could not of worked better to grab recognition and readers... why not.. murdock did it... fox does it... and I believe the bulk of reality tv does also...bad taste etc... sure or maybe... but considering the track record of other media and publications... seems like a sound if not good business strategy..

    July 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mel Ryes

    Its MONEY of course! Can't they (Newsweek) not think of a better article? Its GARBAGE!!!! I salute to TIME magazine July 2011 issue.... which they featured Diana and why she mattered. Her legacy lives on........

    July 4, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
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