How the Newsweeklies Covered (and Designed) the Death of Steve Jobs

How the Newsweeklies Covered (and Designed) the Death of Steve Jobs If anyone had doubts about the viability or importance of newsweeklies in the modern media world, they should have been dashed by the response last week to the death of Apple's Steve Jobs. Not only did Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Newsweek stop their production cycles on a dime and revamp with well-thought out and brilliantly-designed special issues, but they also, with covers, photos, and graphic treatments, helped drive the whole worldwide conversation about the "meaning" of Steve Jobs, turning a moment of sorrow into one of inspiration and creativity. More than any other medium, it was the newsweeklies who delivered powerful, memorable, creative, and original visual responses to Jobs's death. Each of the three magazines built on their visual voices to create unique graphic packages. My strongest memory of Jobs's passing was watching online Thursday as each of the three magazines, in succession, posted up their Jobs covers, each one different, and each expanding the visual conversation. 

Now that they've had a chance to catch up on their sleep, and have their adrenaline levels return to normal, we caught up with the art directors of Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Newsweek, and asked them to describe the process they each went through to create their special Jobs covers and issues. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most exciting magazine-making moments in recent history. Thanks to D.W. Pine of Time, Richard Turley of Bloomberg Businessweek, and Dirk Barnett of Newsweek, as well as their art and photo staffs, for putting together this package.

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Time cover, October 17, 2011. Photograph by Norman Seeff.

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The Time staff on closing night. Art director D.W. Pine, second from left, managing editor Rick Stengel, center.

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Photograph by Diana Walker.

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Photograph by Diana Walker.

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Photograph of Steve Jobs in his home office, December 2004, by Diana Walker

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Photograph by Diana Walker.

Time art director D.W. Pine: It was a typical Wednesday close night at Time. At 7pm we had just finished the print issue and had designed about half the iPad layouts for it.

An hour later, literally the moment I got home, I heard from executive editor Radhika Jones that Steve Jobs had died. After a flurry of emails, it was decided that we would change the cover and eight pages inside. We had two hours.

I drove back to the office and we called an emergency 9pm edit meeting. That was when managing editor Rick Stengel decided to "stop the presses" on the issue and recast the entire 21-page feature well as a Jobs commemorative--and still reach newsstands by Friday. We had 45 minutes to close the cover: a 1984 photo by Norman Seeff, of Jobs sitting cross-legged and cradling a Macintosh on his lap, which we had secured exclusive rights to just a day earlier. Aside from that, in terms of layouts, we were starting from scratch. Our director of photography, Kira Pollack, working with deputy photo editor Paul Moakley, began selecting from hundreds of images. Meanwhile, art director Victor Williams, art/photo coordinator Skye Gurney, and I set about designing and closing pages.

Rick's first call when he heard the news was to Walter Isaacson, a former Time managing editor and the author of the biography of Steve Jobs coming out next week. We'd always known we would want him to write on the occasion of Jobs' death, and he delivered an 1,800 word piece within the hour, which became the lead of our package. To close the well, we put together a photo essay by Time photographer Diana Walker, including a touching moment between Jobs and his wife and an incredibly revealing shot from his home office that has long been a favorite of mine. One of our reporters, Feifei Sun, got Diana on the phone to talk about her experience photographing Jobs, which made the portfolio even more intimate and revealing.

It was just past 3am when the printers received the final pages. Later that morning, the issue arrived under my office door, and seeing it more than 18 years after I started working on a Macintosh LCII reminded me how different our lives, and our industry, would be without Steve Jobs.

For more on Time's Steve Jobs coverage, visit the Time Tumblr page.

Bloomberg Businessweek cover (top), and the original photograph.




photoessay7.jpgInside pages from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Bloomberg Businessweek creative director Richard Turley: Bloomberg put up the news about Jobs' death from Apple around 7.30pm, about 20 minutes before we had closed our normal issue. Eighty percent of the issue had already shipped. Josh Tyrangiel, our editor-in- chief, was on vacation but in town, and we were in contact most of the day. When the news broke, he came in. We had a meeting and he scrapped the issue. When Jobs resigned in August, Josh said he wanted to do a special issue, and we were planning it on and off since then. We knew that when the day came we would have to mobilize quickly but the plan we had was to rush out an issue in a couple of days. The timing sucked for us: We had only 12 hours. We had to get the issue to the printers by 8am so it would make it onto newsstands by Friday, so we had to hit that deadline.

I've become a bit obsessed with pacing and organizing principles this year. For this one I really wanted to keep pictures and words and charts distinct. Initially, I didn't want any words and pictures combined on pages. The photo essay at the beginning came about after looking at the Steve Jobs Wikiquote page, seeing these little summations of hope, love, destiny, power, work, life, that so resonate. And specifically, his commencement speech at Stanford. And it was reading that, that reminded me so much of Tibor Kalman's rhetoric in the essay that opens his retrospective Perverse Optimist. So I stole the conceit of words over pictures. Tibor Kalman is my hero, over all others, and to grave-rob from him was...a bit difficult. But when you saw his words coming together over these pictures, it was really moving and lifted you into the issue so effortlessly. I knew it would speak to people, really get inside peoples' heads. You can't do that too often in magazines. So I stole. I'm sorry Tibor.

It was 64 pages. We all put it together. We sent a few people home at 9pm or so to come back in at 4am with fresh eyes and spot all the mistakes. Just to illustrate the sort of team we have here, Jennifer Daniel was sick, she emailed when she heard the news and was in the office in her pajamas about 45 minutes later. The front essay was a collaboration between David CarthasEmily Keegin, and Diana Suryakusuma from the photo department, Brad Weiners (our deputy editor and fellow Tibor junkie) and myself. I sketched out the written essay sections but all the work was done by Cindy HoffmanRob Vargas;and Chandra Illick, assisted by Donna CohenJamie Goldenberg, and Diana Suryakusuma from our picture department, and Shawn HastoMaayan Pearl, and Lee Wilson, who are our front-of-the-book designers.  We had Jamie Chung shoot all the Apple products we could get our hands on earlier in the year, but when they came in we didn't really know what to do with them. I thought there should be something for people in the IT department, some real tech-nerd stuff to offset the more emotive front end, so Jennifer Daniel, Kenton Powell, and Evan Applegate worked on animating these objects into a timeline. Jennifer and Julian Sancton (our  Etc. editor) collaborated on the glossary at the end, which was a way of taking those smaller, more irreverent aspects of Apple's influence on our lives and articulating them into something lighter to send people out of the magazine with a smile. 

Everyone had a job and a set of pages to do. We had walk-throughs about every three hours to see where everyone was at. Around 6am, when we were already so so late shipping the new pages, we discovered we were four pages short. The photo essay took the strain, going up by two spreads. I have a very vivid memory of me, Emily, David and Brad in this tiny windowless room we were using to look at the pictures, staring in dismay at this sea of images cut up all over the room, this essay which we had labored over for weeks, now having to bump it up in a matter of minutes. Kristin Powers, our amazing Managing Editor, exhausted, came in, almost in tears, apologised, and said that if we don't ship these pages now we will miss the press time, and all of this will have been for nothing. We got there. Just.

For the cover, David Carthas (photo director) got in a ton of images. We wanted something clean and simple. Josh Tyrangiel was keen for it to be from the later, most-recognizable period of Jobs's life. Before Jobs died, we found one we really liked, tried to buy the rights and got engaged in a strange bidding war (orchestrated by an agent with dollar signs in his eyes) with another "unknown magazine" who wanted to buy the image. They offered $35K or something for rights for six months. Crazy. A day later David was searching on Getty, found this pic, we stripped the background out, silo'd him and laid it over a slab of Pantone 877 silver printed as a fifth color. We have a monthly contract with Getty so the cover image was basically free. We still haven't seen the picture we originally wanted in any other magazines... Having the back cover to play with was a treat. We extended the fifth color onto the back of the magazine, as a nod to the backs of iPods. I also liked it because having a wraparound silver cover made it feel more like an object rather than a conventional magazine. The "Goodbye" computer was an afterthought from Josh.

Newsweek cover, photograph by Hiro.

Wednesday night, "the wall" at Newsweek.

Friday night, "the wall" at Newsweek.

Newsweek, illustration by Sean McCabe.

Photograph by Adrian Gaut.

A memorial from China.

Remembering Steve Jobs.

Back cover, illustration by Mark Summers.

Newsweek creative director Dirk Barnett: When Steve Jobs resigned at the end of August, our associate art director Sean Noyce worked on that issue's cover story, cooking up a design direction that riffed on the clean, modern, and tight Apple aesthetic. Upon the announcement of Jobs's passing last Wednesday night, it was an obvious choice to take that design and expand it for the 72-page all-edit issue, all in just 48 hours!

You could feel the outpouring of emotion from the staff and contributors throughout the whole process. I came in Thursday morning to four or five different illustrators who just sent us ideas or illustrations because they had to express their grief. I think Steve Jobs was an especially important force to designers, since we utilize his brilliant inventions every day to create, so the project definitely felt very personal to all of us.

Luckily we have an incredible photo archive at Newsweek. We had all of these amazing Steve Jobs images from over the years to choose from, which is ultimately how we found our cover. Famed fashion photographer Hiro photographed Jobs for Newsweek in 1984, so these were exclusive images to us. We felt this shoot captured such an incredible time in his life, when he was at the crossroads of greatness, so it was especially powerful for a commemorative cover.

The Sean McCabe illustration we had done as a trial for our Jobs cover in August, and it fell perfectly into the intro of the special. Mark Summers, one of the illustrators who reached out to us, provided the perfect illustration for the back cover. Apparently it had been done for Fortune a few years back, but was never used, and he sent it to us asking if we were interested (hell yes!). I love the front cover of Jobs as a young man, and the back cover of the elder Jobs, looking off into the distance.

The tricky thing on a project like this was nailing the pacing and pagination in such a short time, so we definitely wanted big, full-bleed spread photo hits throughout the longer pieces, dispersed with infographics and illustrations

Looking back, the fun part has been seeing what everyone else did. When you are in the thick of it, that never even enters your mind, you are so busy jamming to do something good and special in like five minutes. So when your head comes up for air after this incredible adrenaline push, it's like "Oh yeah, you guys went through this incredible experience too." Seeing the results have been really different the approaches were, in particular Time's amazing historical photography and Bloomberg Businessweek's moving photo essay at the front.

Thanks Steve!

Newsweek art and photo team:
Creative director: Dirk Barnett
Art director: Lindsay Ballant
Associate art director: Sean Noyce
Assistant art director: Rob Di leso
Designers: Kristen Ren, Vanessa Saba, Erich Nagler

Director of photography: Scott Hall
Deputy director of photography: Katherine Harris
Senior photo editors: Carolyn Rauch, Jamie Wellford
Photo editors: Beth Johnson, James Price
Photo/art assistant: Lisa Larson-Walker

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  • Mitch Shostak

    A wonderful story ... well told. Thank you!

  • egotrippin

    Great post indeed...

  • Andy Cowles

    Excellent post, excellent work, much appreciated.

  • Emily Smith

    This is one of the most amazing and inspiring things I've read... since all of the Steve Jobs coverage. So, so proud to be able to work with all of you in even the smallest of ways. Go teams!

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