Rolling Stone Enrages Public With Its Latest Cover ‘Star’

STORY BY Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk

Published: July 17, 2013

Rolling Stone magazine has picked quite a controversial subject to feature on its August issue— Boston Marathon bombing subject Dzohkhar Tsarnaev.

Portrayed in a celebrity light, Tsarnaev poses for the camera and stares directly into its lens. (The photo was not actually taken by the magazine, but rather, it came from the suspect’s old social media account.)

Under his name appears the headline “The Bomber. How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster." Such an accompanying headline seems ill-fitting for the cover photo, however; while the words are negative, the photo is anything but.

Tsarnaev is posed like every other celebrity or music star that graces a Rolling Stone cover.

Of course in the past, other magazines have used similar, less-than-ideal cover “stars,” including fellow terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The primary difference between these two magazine covers is that Bin Laden did not spark widespread dissent among the public, most likely because he was portrayed in an unflattering light that resembled a mug shot. He wasn’t posing in Tsarnaev’s playboy-like manner. 

The public’s outcry has taken over Internet social sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Thousands of Facebook users have posted on Rolling Stone’s page, and most of the posts denounce the magazine’s cover choice.

One upset Facebook user writes, “I think it's wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone? … Don't make martyrs out of these people."

Other users say that a magazine cover should glorify heroes and role models, such as Jeff Bauman, a man who lost both legs in the attack.

Rolling Stone’s controversial cover is also taking the Twittersphere by storm, where “#Boycott Rolling Stone” is becoming a popular hashtag.

In response to all of the criticism, Rolling Stone issued the following statement written by its editors:


"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."

To some people, this statement is not enough, as the magazine seems to only justify its decision rather than apologize. As a result, many longtime readers of the magazine have sworn off the magazine by canceling their prescriptions.

I've been a subscriber since 1996,” one Facebook user wrote. “No longer.”

So what do you think about the Rolling Stone’s decision to feature Tsarnaev on its cover? Does the cover glorify terrorism against the U.S.? Finally, will you buy this Rolling Stone issue or boycott it? Leave a comment below— I want to hear your thoughts!

Other Stories by Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk
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