Back in 2011, the ShortFormBlog squirted out an interesting post that highlighted the great disparity between some of the covers of Time Magazine’s US and global editions. While the Asia, South Pacific and Europe editions asked questions about what the Egypt uprisings meant for the Middle East, the US edition pondered whether anxiety might actually be good for us.

Not to mention this.

It was a smart observation by ShortForm of a series of awkward juxtapositions  by Time. Some of the conclusions that followed elsewhere, however, weren’t so smart and relied a little too heavily on stereotype: that Americans are insular and generally very ignorant about what lies beyond those shining seas. Well, I’m neither going to shoot down those cliches nor defend Time’s choice of covers for its US edition.

While older folks remember when Time had authority, 30-something readers like myself look to other platforms for global commentary these days, increasingly the financial and tech press whose insights into the state of the world are as relevant as those of more politically-focused publications (Time Magazine – who reads that?)  What did get me thinking is this belief implicit in the criticism that a magazine like Time ought to have positioned its international content as its main attraction. Why should it? The US news market is not bereft of commentary and coverage of these events. And it’s not as if Americans are ambivalent about what happens in the Middle East as the first decade of this century has clearly shown.  What’s more, Time is reinventing itself, perhaps in much the same way as every other traditional news platform is, following in the footsteps of the mighty Hearst empire that still has assets but doesn’t really move the news needle these days. So why not move onto something else to write about instead of coming third or fourth place in a race to produce coverage that generally ends up being no different to anything else out there?

That might sound defeatist but if your parent company is struggling to support the investment required to keep you at the front of the pack in world news, then why not look at other ways you can win? Like writing about more nebulous sociological observations, technological trends or deep character profiles. Yes, to an extent it’s decline management but therein also lies a kind of creative that pairs the wisdom of old heads with new opportunities.

Looking beyond Time, which is a US publication with an international brand, why is there an expectation that outlets need to invest in global news coverage to remain relevant, (even if it is just an AP feed)? My worry is not that traditional media takes it cross hairs off of global events, it’s that more local reporting loses all its key players (it was good to see this commentary about Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York supplement).

What big media can bring to the local scene is global, regional or national context. I’ve written about this before: there are great news stories outside of the alpha and beta global cities that are of global relevance. There’s no reason why big media can’t bridge the gulf between the macro and the micro to make for stronger local content that travels into a wider catchment. But as I’ve also said before, I suspect that the ones that will achieve this are not the traditional media outlets but the emerging kings of data.