Rolling Stone Cover Controversy

By Shannon Szypko, Vice President of Chapter Development

I’m sure everyone with access to a TV, phone, or Internet has heard about the Rolling Stone’s August cover featuring the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.


Since the travesty that occurred during the Boston Marathon, I’ve made it a habit every morning to check twitter to see if anything interesting or newsworthy had happened overnight while I was asleep. On Wednesday morning, I saw a tweet about the Rolling Stone’s cover, but had to turn to Google to find out more. And there it was, a huge picture of Tsarnaev plastered on the front page of the Rolling Stone.

Everyone will have their own opinion on whether this was appropriate or not, but from a PR standpoint, I couldn’t imagine any magazine publication GAINING any subscribers this month for a cover that has “PR Crisis” written all over it.  Of course they are getting their fair share of exposure and readership, but who didn’t know what the Rolling Stone was before this? Choosing Tsarnaev for the cover of a magazine with such a high following and one that’s known to feature celebrities and major rock icons was definitely not a wise choice.

There are many businesses around the Boston area and beyond that have already started boycotting the August issue of Rolling Stone for the simple fact that it’s just too soon. No one has fully recovered from the devastation that this young man has caused, so why glorify him as if he’s equal with these superstars? Major businesses have already released statements saying they will not be carrying the August issue of Rolling Stone out of respect for the numerous victims and their families. CVS, Walgreens, BJ’s, Roche Bros Supermarkets, Stop & Shop, Rite Aid, Tedeschi, Cumberland Farms, Wal-Mart, Hannaford, Kmart, and Whole Foods are just some of the retailers that have refused to carry this issue of Rolling Stone. I say, good for them. Rolling Stone might have had good intentions, but imagine being one of the victims or their family members having to be reminded of the pain they’ve been through.

The Mayor of Boston even got in the action, writing a letter to the Publisher of Rolling Stone. Thomas Menino stated that the August cover “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.” He also said that there could have been valuable journalism behind it, but because of the shocking cover almost no one will know. I actually took the time to read the article, and while it was well written, I still couldn’t get past the irresponsible cover photo and headlines they chose to use. It came across as insensitive, and the people of Boston are refusing to let Rolling Stone get away with that.

The motto of this great city shines through again: Boston Strong.

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