In Defense Of the Rolling Stone Cover Of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


There has been a fierce uproar of critacism against Rolling Stone's newest cover featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev offensive. If it did offend anyone's sensibilities I think I did so positively. That said, there is a good reason for the magazine publishing this cover feature. Here are three good reasons for printing the controversial Tsarnaev cover.

1. Magazines print pictures of newsworthy subjects.

Adolf Hitler and Ayatolla Khomeini were each on the cover of TIME magazine as its Man of the Year. If you’re only printing pictures of “good guys,” you’re not doing journalism. Maybe it’s odd that Rolling Stone would put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, given that the publication often covers lighter topics, but do we really want to complain about magazines tackling serious topics? Should we tell Rolling Stone to stop publishing Matt Taibbi's influential work on Goldman Sachs, and focus on pop stars, instead? Should they not be running an article on global warming, which also appears on the cover?

2. There's journalistic value in a human profile.

Is it so crazy to think to Tsarnaev as an actual person with real reasons for what he did rather than an “Other,” or unexplainable object of evil?

3. This isn’t going to make others more likely to commit acts of violence.

Imagine you are an isolated, pissed off kid with some reasonable anger over how America treats the Muslim world and are willing to die and kill innocents to draw attention to your cause. Is seeing a Western magazine article describing Tsarnaev as a normal kid going to motivate you to take action? If anything, by making him seem less evil and more a product of his immediate environment the romantic attraction to the terrorist is lessened.