Is Esquire's cover story helpful or hurtful? | The Tylt

Is Esquire's cover story helpful or hurtful?

In February 2019, Esquire magazine released the first article in a new series: Growing Up in America Today. The article profiled a 17-year-old boy living in Wisconsin. According to Esquire's editor in chief, and supporters of the article, the story combats "ideological echo chambers" by shedding light on the life of a white teen in middle America. Meanwhile, many are irate that yet another tale of the white American "plight" was favored over those of marginalized groups–in the middle of Black History Month no less. Does the article do more harm than good?

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is Esquire's cover story helpful or hurtful?
#EsquireCoverHelpful
A festive crown for the winner
#EsquireCoverHurtful
Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Is Esquire's cover story helpful or hurtful?
#EsquireCoverHelpful
#EsquireCoverHurtful
#EsquireCoverHelpful

Esquire's March cover story, "The Life of an American Boy at 17," follows Wisconsin local Ryan Morgan through the motions of his daily life. Reporter Jennifer Percy accompanies Morgan to school, journeys with Morgan to visit his father for a weekend, and even joins Morgan to watch a Packers game. 

The story is the first of at least four profiles, each covering a different perspective on the new coming-of-age tale in America. The series is poised to answer pressing questions about what it's like to be in high school in Trump's America, maturing the #MeToo movement, and navigating the great political divide.

Since the 2016 election, middle America is constantly referenced by pundits as a place largely overlooked by both political parities–but not President Trump. Advocates for this story, the first in a series that will profile what it's like to grow up "white, black, LGBTQ, female," argue that Morgan's life in middle America needs just as much attention as every other teen. Per its title, the series acts as a gateway to understanding the full spectrum of being a teen in America. 

As Morgan himself puts it: 

“Well, I don’t know. I still don’t really understand it. I know what I can’t do, I just don’t know what I can do.”
#EsquireCoverHelpful

According to Esquire Editor in Chief Jay Fielden, "The Life of an American Boy at 17" aims to break down the "ideological echo chambers" plaguing America:

These days, most of us have splintered off into our own ideological echo chambers, regurgitating the talking points of Fox or CNN or MSNBC, depending on your taste in agitprop. These are different kinds of safe spaces, ones in which we’ve all agreed to agree, nodding in unison like a herd of bobbleheads. 

In his editor's Letter, Fielden mourns the loss of debate for debate's sake–for learning through discourse. In his opinion, the loss of civil debate has hurt teenagers more than any other group. He says: 

...the task of grappling with the world has to be more complicated for kids than it’s ever been.
What we asked [Jennifer Percy] to do—and she did brilliantly—was to look at our divided country through the eyes of one kid. Ryan Morgan is his name. He’s white, lives in the middle of the reddest county in Wisconsin, and, as you will see, he is an unusually mature, intelligent, and determined young man.
#EsquireCoverHurtful

Immediately after the article was published online, readers criticized Esquire for highlighting the story of yet another white male. There is clear irony in the story's intentions: Fielden says the story is supposed to challenge the tribalism of today's political and cultural questions, yet it sympathizes with the embodiment of privilege in American–white, male, straight, the list goes on. 

No one is attacking the subject of the story for being who he is, but rather the magazine itself for failing to give marginalized voices the platform they have long fought for. Instead of making room for others, Esquire lifted up a plight well-known to many readers. Complex's Trace William Cowen reports:  

Following the article's publication Tuesday, many have said that shining a light on this facet of the American experience is a waste of space.
#EsquireCoverHurtful

Furthermore, although there are many examples of negligence in how this story made it to publication (starting with little to no diversity in Esquire's decision-making roles), many readers point out that publishing a sympathetic profile of a white teen in the middle of Black History Month is "shameful."

Although the released magazine cover notes the cover story will be published in Esquire's March 2019 edition, the article's online publication acted as its world premiere, something that any newsroom with a digital presence could have been predicted.

The entire purpose of Black History Month is to bring to light the achievements of black Americans–achievements that are largely ignored by Eurocentric history classes. Instead of acknowledging this call to action, Esquire blatantly neglected its editorial responsibility to provide a platform for marginalized groups. 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is Esquire's cover story helpful or hurtful?
#EsquireCoverHelpful
A festive crown for the winner
#EsquireCoverHurtful