Amusing juxtapositions at Time

I've recently read several news articles at, and I keep being struck (and annoyed) by their links to marginally-related sets of pictures.

The links appear in parentheses at the ends of paragraphs, usually every three to five paragraphs. For example, in an article about the Moscow police:

Russia is currently 147th in Transparency International's annual corruption survey, alongside Syria, Kenya and Bangladesh. A recent poll by the independent Levada Center, meanwhile, found that while 85% of respondents believe officers do their job satisfactorily or very well, the majority also see the police as part of "repressive structures." (See pictures of London's police on duty.)

That's kind of random--the article has nothing to do with London's police. I'm guessing that they have an automated system that pairs keywords with existing sets of photos, in order to increase traffic to their photos. So since the article is about police, and the paragraph mentions police, the system generated a link to a photoset that's about police, even though it's about police in another country.

I don't know for sure that it's an automated system; it's certainly possible that a human chose that link. But if it's a human doing it, then they've got a kind of unusual idea of relevance.

Or possibly just a sense of humor, because some of the juxtapositions are outright funny, albeit wildly inappropriate in a serious article. The best one I've seen so far is from that same article about the Moscow police:

The code goes into striking detail on how officers should behave both in public and private. Police, it says, should avoid casinos, "indiscriminate sex" and "questionable relationships with people with negative public reputations such as criminals." Drinking on duty, talking on cell phones on public transport, using drugs, offering or accepting bribes and engaging in "gross jokes and wicked irony" are also out. (See 10 things to do in Moscow.)

(Of course, that particular article hovers right on the edge between serious and silly already. For example, in the photo at the top of the article, a Russian police officer appears to be making a face at the camera, and the caption refers to "reform[ing the] image of police.")

It reminds me a little of the snide responses in the sidebar of Colbert's "The Wørd" segments--it's like the magazine has hired an irreverent free-associationist to poke fun at their articles, to prevent any reader from taking the journalism too seriously. Kind of a neat undermining effect, but I doubt that's what Time intended.

One Response to “Amusing juxtapositions at Time”

  1. irilyth cited my favorite ever example of this.


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