ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to include Rebecca Latham’s current title.
What’s that between Texas and Arizona?
That would be Mexico – minus the defining “New” – according to a map featured on the cover of New York Times Magazine.
Though the mistake played small on the publication’s Feb. 22 cover, it has created a big to-do in the Land of Enchantment, with the state tourism department leading the charge.
“One could expect this from a contestant on a dating show,” said Rebecca Latham, secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “But the New York Times Magazine? Come on now.”
The Times copped to the mistake in a statement to the Journal on Monday, noting that the magazine commissioned a pair of Italian artists, Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, for the cover image in question, one of five covers used on that particular edition.
“The globe that was photographed was a prop that mislabeled ‘New Mexico’ as ‘Mexico.’ This was an unfortunate error, which we regret,” Linda Zebian, corporate communication director, said via email.
The snafu comes on the heels of a high-profile contestant gaffe on “The Bachelor.” Upon learning the cast of the reality TV show was heading to Santa Fe for an episode, one aspiring bride noted that she’d never been out of the country.
Latham – who described her initial reaction to the Times’ error as “completely miffed” – has come to see it instead as a marketing opportunity. Her department is brandishing the boo-boo as a publicity tool and hoping it becomes a rallying cry for New Mexicans sick of such slights and ready to spread the word about their home state.
Tourism staff posted the magazine cover on the department’s Facebook page on Friday with the message “Something is missing. … Wish we ‘new’ what it was. #newmatters.” That post garnered 39,000 “impressions” by Saturday morning, Latham said, and commenters chimed in with comments like “typical” and “never ceases to amaze me.”
The department drew more attention to the map mishap with a Monday news release. Latham said it would be foolish not to capitalize.
“We kind of laugh when this happens because it happens more often than we care to admit, but really from the New York Times Magazine, that was just so shocking to me,” she said. “But it also gave me that little extra ooomph that we’ve got more work to do in creating awareness about New Mexico.”