Jim-Morrison1

Jim Morrison

Why the heck is Rolling Stone writing a cover story about Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Short answer: to make money.

On its face it’s a self-defeating tactic, since their controversial cover, portraying Tsarvaev as a glamorous figure in a shot compared by some to famous pictures of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison, has managed to get the issue boycotted by CVS, Walgreens, and several other major retailers. Somehow I think Rolling Stone will muddle through, though. One of the benefits of doing something massively controversial is that a lot of people will pay attention to you, write about you, and link back to you. (Like this post.)

So instead of talking about the cover story, which is due to get ample attention on its own, I wanted to look at Rolling Stone‘s defense of it:

The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone‘s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.

This is going to sound like bad advice, but Rolling Stone: no one reads you for “serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.” They read you because they like rock and roll, and they like being cool.