Readers Misled by Front Page Teasers
The Commission has recently resolved a number of separate complaints from concerned readers complaining that magazine covers have promised content that does not correspond to the inside articles.
There was the cover of Reveal magazine suggesting that an article contained comments from Victoria Beckham about her fitness regime. The story actually contained quotes from Melanie Brown, who had briefly referred to Mrs Beckham. In order to resolve the complaint, the editor telephoned the complainant, apologising for the confusion and offering her a subscription.
Look magazine provoked a complaint about a front-cover image of Jennifer Anniston with the caption ‘I'm having a baby!". The subsequent article contained the claims that Ms Aniston was thinking about - rather than confirmation that she was - having a baby with her partner. The editor apologised to the complainant, undertaking to bear her comments in mind for future reference, and refunded the cost of the magazine.
OK Magazine ran a front-page headline referring to the "Star-studded wedding" of "Wayne and Coleen". Inside, there was just a full page advertisement for the wedding which was to be covered in the following week's edition. The magazine indicated that it had not intended to mislead readers, and offered the complainant a six-month subscription.
This issue does not only relate to celebrity articles. A problem occurred with Love It magazine, which used the following front-page headline to summarise an article: "Locked up by my hubby and forced to eat". The husband complained, making clear that his wife was sectioned under the Mental Health Act via a process that was controlled by a consultant, a GP and other medical staff. The magazine settled the complaint, including by apologising to the complainant.
Clearly, there is growing concern about the use of material on front covers. Magazine editors should be aware of this issue and act to ensure that readers are not misled by headline references to inside articles. The Commission may be asked to adjudicate on the matter, where it would be asked to consider whether the brief reference on the cover is justified by the content of the story itself.