SM& Reactions to the Rolling Stone’s Cover
July 18, 2013
July 18, 2013
It’s a point of pride for us that our staff is passionate about the media. When Rolling Stone’s controversial cover featuring a picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev started making the rounds last night, SM&ers were quick to offer their perspective. See what they had to say here: A blog post from Senior Vice President Michal Regunberg:
What’s behind the decision by Rolling Stone magazine to put a portrait of Dzhokar Tsnaraev on the cover of its magazine? It certainly has generated a firestorm of reaction across the internet and beyond. Both Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino have decried the cover. Interestingly, they and others have said that the reporting inside may be valuable and worth reading, but the decision to use the cover to glorify Tsnarnaev was tasteless at best and certainly hurtful to the scores of individuals injured or killed by his actions and those of his brother. Perhaps, as some have suggested, in the age of online 24/7 news coverage where everyone has an opinion and can share it instantly, Rolling Stone, as other magazines, has seen its readership and advertising decline. If that is the rationale for putting Tsarnaev on its cover, it’s beyond cynical. In response to the outcry, Rolling Stone issued a statement that doesn’t do much other than expressing sympathy to the victims of the attacks, but saying the article fits in with the magazine’s “long standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” So, here’s the bottom line. Does this cover and the ensuing controversy make you more likely or less likely to go out and buy the magazine? Tough choice. Part of me wants to see what all the fuss is about but part of me is reluctant to plunk down any change to reinforce their decision to publish the cover.
A blog post from Senior Account Executive Kate Plourd:
It’s a shame that Rolling Stone – in an effort to sell a few extra magazines—provoked outrage from scores of people still healing from the Boston Marathon attacks by publishing a glamour shot image of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Many have argued that Tsarnaev’s photo—a typical “selfie” that any 20-something has stored on their iPhone—simply aligns with the narrative showcasing how a typical, innocent, American kid was led astray to carry out such terror. Personally, as someone appreciative of Rolling Stone’s brand of journalism and as someone still searching to understand what happened on April 15, I can’t wait to read that story. I desperately want to know what drove these two brothers—who lived in my former neighborhood, walked the same streets and probably ate at the same places as me—to allegedly kill innocent bystanders who were doing nothing more than supporting runners like me on a beautiful Boston day. In an editor’s note published along with the full story, Rolling Stone writes “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.” I couldn’t agree more. But the real shame in Rolling Stone’s decision to publish the cover photo is that the magazine’s editors didn’t seem to think that people would have such an adverse reaction. Some have said that Rolling Stone could have chosen another photo that didn’t stand to provoke such strong feelings. Moreover, it’s unfortunate that the furor associated with the cover has turned many people off from reading a story that may shed light on the attack. If Rolling Stone truly has a compelling piece of quality journalism that appeals to its readers, in today’s world were sharing content via social media has never been easier, RS shouldn’t need a provocative cover to sell it.
Some tweets from staff: @HeleneSolomon: RT @JoannaWeiss: Upon reflection: Rolling Stone cover is incendiary partly because it *looks* like it was styled and shot by Mario Testino. @edcafasso:How @RollingStone reacts to Jahar cover anger will be interesting. Headline calls him a “monster.” Was cover pic choice meant to fuel sales? @MRintouch: #MayorMenino” The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories,though I no longer feel Rolling Stone deserves them. @Katemplourd: Was out running. Just now seeing @RollingStone. Not a fan. Understand the need to explain why the kid turned, but a cover shot is too far. @derjue: The issue with @RollingStone #Tsarnaev cover isn't pic itself–it's context. He's posed like stars usually celebrated in the rock mag. @HotelChevalier: Obama, The Beatles, Bob Marley and Dzhohkar. Hey @RollingStone glorifying terrorism to sell magazines is #weak and #shameful. #BostonStrong