The Buck Stop Here
It’s time to hit my politically correct public naivete warning button, 10 times.
I do so over the furor of Rolling Stone’s controversial cover photo of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarvaev.
All kinds of people, including locals on social media, raised hell for a week because they thought the cover photo was glorifying him.
Balderdash, it’s called journalism.
To begin with, I didn’t think he looked so naive in the photo. He looked like the lost child that he is, whacked out on drugs.
Secondly, Rolling Stone is not Reader’s Digest. It has been a provocative, thought inducing and yes, sometimes annoying publication since its late 1960s inception. It can be all those things under the First Amendment, which includes the right to be stupid.
Third, If you don’t like the cover, don’t buy the magazine and don’t tell other people whether they should or not.
This is still the United States and if you don’t like something, ignore it, change the channel, walk away and don’t insist it be banned because it doesn’t fit your values.
Fourth, what do people want on magazine covers, happy faces? As a journalist friend who once caught hell on the street for a provocative headline said in jest, “I guess every headline in the paper from now on should say, ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ ”
Fifth, “They just did it to sell magazines,” is precisely correct. That’s what they do. Dull covers and front pages don’t sell magazines and newspapers.
Six, the same photo was on the front page of the New York Times and other publications, which received no such outcry.
Seven, Time Magazine had Hitler on the cover as Man of the Year in 1938, Stalin in 1939 and the Ayotollah Khomeini in 1979.
I’m sure Time caught it for those choices, but Man of the Year in Time means the person who was the year’s biggest story, not the world’s nicest guy. Rolling Stone realized that.
Eight, the headline on the Rolling Stone cover for the story said “The Bomber. How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.” That doesn’t read like glorification to me.
Nine, please don’t think that people “don’t deserve” to be in a magazine or your local newspaper because of something they did or their ne’er-do-well relative did 20 years ago. If journalism had to bow to that kind of reasoning, there wouldn’t be any. It’s called news.
Ten, if you want something to go away, don’t draw massive attention to it, thereby creating scads of free advertising for something that probably would have gone unnoticed if you had just shut up.
Case in point. Rolling Stone newsstand sales for the alleged bomber issued doubled after the big stink.
Folks, good journalism is not for the timid sometimes.
Remember this. No one has a gun to your head to read or buy any of it. Let’s move on.