Rolling Stone Magazine Cover of Suspect #2 Draws Backlash

Rolling Stone

The Rolling Stone magazine is under fire from irate readers after placing Suspect #2 on the cover of their August issue.  Suspect #2 is the lone survivor from the terrible Boston Marathon bombing this past April.  Along with a photo of the bomber the magazine posted a headline: “The Bomber.  How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

More than 6,000 people have left comments on the legendary magazine’s Facebook page; most of them denouncing the decision.  The hash tag #BoycottRollingStone is currently trending on Twitter.  The magazine prides itself as one that not only covers music and entertainment, but politics as well.  The feature story apparently provides “new” details on what went wrong in his life.

I am incensed that magazine editors would place a photo of this murderer on their cover.  I don’t really care if they did it with Charles Manson.  Nor do I care that other magazines have done it in the past.  It doesn’t make it okay.

I don’t have a problem with the magazine providing an article on the latest developments.  I have a problem with his picture featured on any platform.  Personally I don’t think his name and/or picture should be further publicized.  I consciously made the decision to never publicize the names of such people.  You may notice that I refer to him as Suspect #2.  I refuse to use my social platform to publicize their hate and message. 

Furthermore, I am disappointed that the magazine didn’t take the opportunity to feature a survivor of the terrible bombing.  Why wasn’t Adrianne Haslet on the cover?  I understand magazine and news outlets try to provoke the populace in the hopes of added publicity.  They hope to increase viewership and/or readership.  But I think you can be thought-provoking while still respectful.  In this case I think they failed.

What do you think?


Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate

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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

8 responses to “Rolling Stone Magazine Cover of Suspect #2 Draws Backlash”

  1. cameliarodriguez says :

    Upon seeing the cover, I was left speechless. I understand that Rolling Stone wanted to write a story about Bombing Suspect #2 from a different angle than most other publications, but they didn’t have to put him on the cover of their magazine. I find it to be disrespectful to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

    They’re making a celebrity out of this person who was behind a terrorist attack. It’s insane.

  2. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    Basically cross-posted from my comment on my Facebook, with a couple of addditions:

    From the perspective of a journalist on this:
    I think media needs to be careful about whether such covers, especially in a magazine that DOES usually grant the cover shot to a celebrity, do glorify criminals. If it was up to me, if I was top dog at Rolling Stone? I wouldn’t have published the ‘selfie’ on this cover. And even if I would’ve, it would take A LOT – and I mean A LOT – of convincing for me to do so – this is a discussion that I would hope WAS had by the senior editors and publishers before running the cover.

    However, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with publishing it INSIDE the magazine, though, embedded within the article. As it stands, the Rolling Stone cover was just a cheap thrill, a cheap and easy way to get people to buy more magazines (and in that sense, yes, it does create celebrity status). One of the articles about this cover on said that it was actually brilliant because it showed that terrorists or murderers aren’t always creepoids who are visibly ‘off’ – they can be baby-faced, curly-haired teenagers with no apparent issues, either. But I don’t see that as an adequate defense of Rolling Stone’s decision to put that pic on the cover. After all, that effect can just as easily be achieved by embedding it in the story inside the edition, WITHOUT giving the guy the prime real estate of a magazine cover.

    When Rolling Stone did it with O.J. Simpson – well, there was a bit of crossover there because he was already a celebrity even before the trial. When Rolling Stone did it with Manson, I felt it was this same principle as with Tsarnaev – it gave him a celebrity status, when the same picture inside the magazine would’ve had the same, and less glorifying, effect.
    And yes, the New York Times had this same picture of Tsarnaev on its front page – but it was embedded within the story and while not exactly a tiny one-column mugshot, it wasn’t nearly as huge or prominent as the version printed on the front of this magazine. Even there, there’s a difference in the usage of the photo.

    However, as far as naming the guy… I don’t think the media would be doing anybody any service by withholding the name of said criminal. Facts are facts. If John Smith is a suspect, John Smith is a suspect. No matter how disgusting the crime may have been, no matter how disgusting you think the person is, he is still a person. People have names. There are instances where names are kept hidden, but those occur usually to protect a person’s life or livelihood.

    News media are supposed to report the news and facts. Sometimes, the news and facts are not pretty. That’s called life. That’s called reality.

    News media need to be careful not to glorify murderers and such, and publishing gory images or videos is generally a no-no on ethical grounds. But there’s a difference between reporting facts and glorifying crime. It is not our job to totally sanitize everything to the point where we’re redacting every name on every crime story.

    To refuse to name the person charged with a crime for no other reason than you’re disgusted by what they did? From a human perspective, that may make sense – but from a news/editorial perspective, that’s inserting your opinion into the way you do the news. If I as a reporter or editor want to put up a column or editorial castigating our obsession with identifying criminals, okay. But that doesn’t mean I should apply that personal disgust to arbitrarily decide not to do names. Journalists need more sound reasons than their own personal feelings, no matter how strong or justified, to do things like that.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      Your explanation of the cover is how I feel. I have no problem with the inside story and pics. It’s the face he is on the cover with that sort of photo.

      As for my opinion on withholding his name. Let me clarify my opinion. I’m not a journalist. I have no journalistic duty to provide his name. I do expect and understand why a NEWS outlet would use his name. But many talk shows with pundits aren’t JOURNALISTS. There’s a difference in my opinion. His name is obviously out there. I just have made a conscious decision to not use my social platform to publicize the names of these murderers.

      Obviously one can do as they please. Again I expect and understand why people reporting the facts would use his name in a journalistic capacity. But again not everyone is a journalist. I sure heck I’m not.

  3. Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger says :

    Mistakes are made. Sometimes they even get passed quality control. What I find the most troubling is there defense rather than an acknowledgement, which would allow everyone to move on. Regardless what the article says, everything about the cover speaks ‘Rock Star’ even the font of the words The Bomber. It was a poor choice compounded by arrogance. But then again, its always the cover up that gets ’em in the end. Thanks for your post.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      I don’t think the magazine editors understand the controversy. It isn’t because they chose to write an article on him. It’s the glamour/rock star shot of him they used as the cover. That is what has infuriated people. I can only imagine how a victim of his violence would feel if they were to pass by am aisle and see his smug face on it.

      Thank you for your comments!

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