Rabu, 17 Juli 2013

Dont stone Rolling Stone over Boston bomber cover

Cult leader Charles Manson on the June 15 1970 cover of 'Rolling Stone'.(Photo Rolling Stone)


While the magazine may not have the cachet it did back in the day the cover of the Rolling Stone has had an iconic role in American pop culture since Dr. Hook the Medicine Show sang about their lust to be on it back in 1973.

So it's no surprise that Rolling Stone's decision to devote that hallowed real estate to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has triggered widespread outrage. Feelings about the hideous crime remain raw. Choosing as cover art a selfie of Tsarnaev with tousled hair and a vaguely come hither expression rather than the aura of a fearsome alleged mass murderer didn't help never mind that the photo has appeared everywhere including on the front of The New York Times.

CONTROVERSY Tsarnaev cover stirs firestorm

The comments in such venues as Twitter Facebook and Boston.com are brutal lambasting the magazine for glorifying terrorists and calling for readers to boycott it in the future.

But while it's understandable that people are upset by the attention to Jahar I'm not sure Rolling Stone is guilty of any journalistic war crimes.

Some commenters have wondered what a magazine that tends to feature on its covers musicians like er the Rolling Stones is trying to tell us by putting an alleged terrorist out there. But Rolling Stone has a long history of featuring serious news coverage as well as rock 'n' roll.

Just three years ago Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job as commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan because of an article in Rolling Stone that featured caustic comments about President Obama by the general and his aides. Back in the 1970s it featured the groundbreaking political coverage of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. And speaking of mass murderers Charles Manson was once on the cover of Rolling Stone.

While the full text of the article isn't scheduled to be released until Friday it hardly sounds like a puff piece. Here's the cover type THE BOMBER followed by How a Popular Promising Student Was Failed by his Family Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.

I don't know about you but to me calling somebody a monster doesn't sound much like glorifying him.

Rolling Stone posted five revelations from the article on its website and said the author contributing writer Janet Reitman had spent two months interviewing dozens of sources for the piece.

It sounds like a serious effort to find out what could impel a young man to kill indiscriminately. That's an important journalistic mission not an effort to glamorize evil.

As for the cover itself it has already achieved its goal even before appearing on a single newsstand. Magazine covers are designed to attract attention and this one certainly has.

Editor Tina Brown established herself as a magazine megastar with her buzz generating covers at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

And magazine covers frequently stir up controversy. Often it's because they make some people uncomfortable the breast feeding mom on the cover of Time a very pregnant and very naked Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair Bert and Ernie snuggling on a couch as they watch the Supreme Court justices on TV (right after the Defense of Marriage Act decision) on the cover of The New Yorker.

And sometimes the brouhaha ensues because of journalistic malfeasance as when Time darkened a picture of O.J. Simpson.

Oh and in case you were wondering Dr. Hook the Medicine Show saw their dreams come true. They made the cover of the Rolling Stone on March 29 1973 with the caption What's Their Names Make The Cover.

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