Los Angeles Magazine Bends Cover Rules for Maria Shriver

On the one hand, Los Angeles magazine can be accused of knowing exactly what it was doing when it put one of the authors of its October content, rather than issue subjects, on the cover. Because if socialite Wallis Annenberg had graced the front rather than the person who interviewed her, Maria Shriver, there’s no way the glossy monthly would have been able to wrangle today’s exclusive People.com preview.

On the other hand, what kind of journalism precedent is being set here? Sure, the theme of the October issue is “The L.A. Woman” and no one currently epitomizes the good and bad of what that entails more than Shriver. But there needs to be an actual story about her, not just by her.

In a tweet promoting the People mention, Los Angeles magazine promised that this first look at the October cover is “going to surprise you.” But in FishbowlLA’s case, that’s not actually true.

In this day and age of celebrity-driven PR and necessary newsstand grabs, it’s completely predictable to find Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s wronged First Lady on the cover. The real surprise for us would have been to see a portrait of Annenberg there.

Update – 09/21/11: In an email promoting the Shriver issue, Los Angeles magazine editor Mary Melton writes: “We’ve been receiving quite a bit of buzz about our October issue… On the cover is a striking portrait of Maria Shriver. Why her? Because she represents the essential L.A. woman: intelligent and resilient and invested in the city… I’m thrilled that both of these strong women [Shriver, Annenberg] anchor this issue.”

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.