Mediaite picked up a story that Perez Hilton ran about Men’s Health using the same coverlines from 3 years ago (here) on their December issue and they have a quote from Zinczenko defending the practice.
Most magazines recycle coverlines. Maybe there’s a little rewording or maybe they just lift one off an old cover, but it’s not unusual to refer to a cover book for inspiration when writing lines. I’ve heard that Time Inc. has a book where words, colors and cover subjects have sales numbers attached to them (that’s why you see so many Jesus covers on Time) for further insight into how things will perform on the newsstand.
The problem is not the recycled coverlines, it’s the recycled content. There are only a limited number of ways you can say the same thing over and over again and magazines keep reaching for the same high performing content to keep the ship afloat a little bit longer. For a magazine like Men’s Health they actually create content specifically for the newsstand and in many cases it’s fluff so they can write a line that contains the magic words “sex, abs, best body, ultimate….” Rodale is notorious for fluffy coverlines that have very little payoff inside (not to mention fake numbers). I think we’re all very aware by now that magazines are digging their own grave.