Rolling Stone’s Boston Bombing Cover - A disgrace or a missed message?

by
Fatimah Mazhar
Rolling Stone magazine’s cover featuring Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev garnered massive outrage. Mayor Thomas Menino called it a ‘disgrace’ and issued a strong response on Wednesday saying that the publication was wrong to reward a terrorist with celebrity treatment.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Rolling Stone’s Cover

Rolling Stone magazine’s cover featuring Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev garnered massive outrage. Mayor Thomas Menino called it a ‘disgrace’ and issued a strong response on Wednesday saying that the publication was wrong to reward a terrorist with celebrity treatment.

Those who are condemning and boycotting the magazine believe that the cover depicts the Boston bomber as a glorified celebrity or a martyr. But it is certainly not what the magazine had intended. And to prove their stance they have a well-researched article written by Janet Reitman to accompany the controversial photo.

The piece in the, magazine entitled ‘Jahar's World is an in-depth analysis of the teenager’s life which was spent in the U.S. and how he took the dangerous road  from an admired student to a bomber, a monster under the influence of radical Islam. The article is brilliant. So is the cover because it gives a message which mostly other news-oriented publications fail to pass on to their audiences through their detailed content.

The Message

Rolling Stone’s cover implies that a monster, a terrorist will not always look like a shady, bearded guy wearing a turban and operating from the Middle East. It can be someone as young as Jahar, as innocent-looking as Jahar and as close in proximity as Jahar.

It’s Certainly Not Glorification

The article and the picture give a detailed account of the fact how a young boy living in the United States felt the need to kill innocent people. The Rolling Stone cover makes you question yourself what could have been the factors that turned Jahar, a well-liked student, into a suicide bomber. The magazine itself calls the boy a ‘bomber’ and not a celebrity.

The people are unhappy, angry and outraged. But they shouldn’t feel that way if they grasp the meaning attached to the cover. The article is indeed the best answer to all the accusations and pointed-fingers. The best way to deal with the photo on the cover of the magazine is to read the accompanying piece and then ask questions.

Rolling Stone editors stand by their cover and have issued a statement following the backlash explaining how the picture and the story fall within the traditions of journalism and ‘the fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.’

Turns out, one really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. 

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