People magazine calls for action against gun violence
NEW YORK — The next edition of People magazine comes with a call for action against gun violence and contact information for every member of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
The highly unusual step by People, one of the best-known magazines in America, is the product of severe frustration among the editors.
In a video for People.com, editorial director Jess Cagle said that as the staff geared up to cover the shooting spree at a college in Oregon last week, it occurred to him, “We’re doing the same thing that we always do.”
“One thing is very, very clear,” Cagle said, “and that is, as a country, we are not doing enough about gun violence.”
The coverage of the Umpqua Community College massacre is accompanied by stories about victims of other mass shootings and the directory of congressional contact information.
On People.com, the House and Senate phone numbers are listed along with email addresses and Twitter handles. The nonprofit Sunlight Foundation helped with the data.
“We need to know that our representatives in Washington, D.C., are looking for solutions and not giving up, and they need to know if we agree or disagree with their strategies,” Cagle wrote in a letter from the editor.
He added, “Let’s make sure they know that from now on, ‘routine’ responses just won’t cut it.”
His letter was published online on Wednesday afternoon; the full issue will come out on newsstands across the country on Friday.
On Wednesday night a spokeswoman for the magazine said no traffic data for the story was immediately available but said there would be “great interest” in it.
Some of the interest was decidedly positive — the famed ABC producer Shonda Rhimes tweeted out the contact information and said “love this.”
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence thanked People “for taking a stand on this issue and showing you’ve had enough.”
But the magazine also anticipated accusations of advocacy journalism. Cagle said in an interview with the Associated Press that People was not trying to insert itself into politics.
“All we’re saying is, ‘Hold your representatives’ feet to the fire,'” he told the news outlet. “‘Let them know what you’re thinking.’ That’s all. But everyone sort of projects their own baggage onto [the issue.]”