Rolling Stone Puts Boston Marathon Bomber on Cover, Lots of Folks Not Happy About It [UPDATED]
Alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhohkar Tsarnaev will be on the cover of next month’s Rolling Stone. The decision has sparked a great deal of controversy, with many condemning the magazine for glamorizing the suspected terrorist.
The issue includes an in-depth story, called “Jahar’s World,” by Janet Reitman, who spent two months interviewing Tsarnaev’s friends and former acquaintances, law enforcement officials who investigated the bombing, and dozens of other sources to put together a piece that, as the cover suggests, shows “how a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”
But that’s not what’s upsetting people. Tsarnaev’s image on the cover clearly makes him look like one of the hundreds of rock stars who have been on the front of the iconic music magazine over the last five decades. There are already well over 1,000 comments posted below a preview of the story on the Rolling Stone website, most of them negative, some harshly so.
On Rolling Stone’s Facebook page, the most popular comment thus far says “Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, should be on cover.” Bauman was in one of the most haunting, widely seen photos in the bombing’s aftermath, and was recently featured in The New York Times in an extensive follow-up story about his recovery.
The decision to put Tsarnaev on the cover may well help to sell issues, or it’s possible that the backlash will cause a loss in subscriptions for Rolling Stone.
UPDATE (4:30 p.m. EST): Rolling Stone has issued a statement on their Facebook page:
“Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS”
A local Boston TV station, WCVB, spoke with residents:
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