Rolling Stone defends Boston bomber cover
The magazine stands by the controversial image, calling it 'within the traditions of journalism.' But now Walgreen and Kmart are joining the boycott.
Rolling Stone magazine is defending its Boston bomber cover, explaining to readers that the image that sparked outrage and a boycott "falls within the traditions of journalism."
Nevertheless, several large retailers are joining the boycott, with Walgreen (WAG) and Kmart becoming the latest to ban the issue from their shelves. CVS (CVS) and New England grocery chain Tedeschi have also pulled the magazine.The outcry could crimp Rolling Stone's sales, most likely at newsstands and checkout counters, where last year it was averaging about 75,000 copies per issue. The bulk of its sales stem from subscriptions, which stood at about 1.39 million in June.
In its defense, the magazine added, "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."
While that may be the case, Rolling Stone's explanation didn't sit well with some would-be readers. After all, the most-cited problem lies with the cover image, which shows a youthful, even innocent-looking Tsarnaev.
"You can include the story without glamorizing him by putting him on the cover. Total BS cop-out excuse," one commenter posted on Rolling Stone's Facebook page.
The flap boils down to Tsarnaev's placement on Rolling Stone's cover, a piece of real estate that's more typically associated with the lionization of music icons such as John Lennon and Kurt Cobain.
A similar previous story on the front page of The New York Times, which apparently used the same dreamy-faced photo of Tsarnaev, didn't spark a furor, although the newspaper's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, told the Washington Post that she received "a couple" of complaints.
That hardly matches the outrage that's now pouring on Rolling Stone. Of course, Times readers don't blink when the paper publishes unnerving photos, but that's not what Rolling Stones subscribers expect or necessarily want to see.
Yet hidden behind Rolling Stone's covers are great -- and sometimes unsettling -- pieces of journalism, ranging from investigations written by Hunter Thompson to the recently departed Michael Hastings, who received the George Polk Award for The Runaway General, which profiled Stanley McChrystal.
This isn't the first time Rolling Stone has departed from its typical pop-star cover to portray a serious criminal topic. Back in 1970, the magazine depicted multi-murder mastermind (and musician) Charles Manson on its cover.
The Tsarnaev image may hurt short-term sales, but on the bright side -- at least for publisher Jann Wenner -- the brouhaha has sparked readers to pay attention to the magazine once again.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Rolling Stone is nothing but an extreme left piece of garbage publication that all of America should have boycotted regardless of this cover. This is just all the more reason.
Enough of the "evil acts will make you famous" promotions (for profit) in this country. ENOUGH!
Looks like Rolling Stone is the Paula Deen di jour. Pile on everybody.
I wonder what will happen when something truly awful happens.
Rolling Stone is in the business of selling product. Have you looked at their subscription demographics? At the portion of their print run sold NON-subscription? All the sturm und drang over this cover photo+story is pure gravy for Rolling Stone.
The positive value of all the "shocked, shocked!" indignation and outrage over this issue of a has-been publication (in the sense that Playboy is a has-been publication) is to offer what any good capitalist has warm and runny dreams about: free advertising.
The negative value is to highlight a sadly provincial strain that runs through much of a nation that takes as an article of faith that it's not only ever so advanced and up-to-date, but also just about the brightest thing to light the universe since Kepler's supernova.
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