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Bad Advice for Rolling Stone

Janet Reitman’s cover story is very thorough and fascinating. It's just unnecessary in a magazine that’s supposedly about music.

by
Hannah Sternberg

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July 18, 2013 - 10:00 am
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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.

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

Other short answer, the magazine thrives on being in your face."

This is the rag where one of its "pieces" brought down some US General serving in Afghanistan.

And you're surprised it's put out an article on the murderous little pothead found hiding in a boat ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rolling Stone missed the boat. The story should have been accompanied by offering T-shirts for sale, with the face on it and underneath, the caption "Dzho" This would sell well in many places. Those inclined to Later Verse enthusiasm would see it as an excellent sartorial accessory to proclaim their state of mind. Now wouldn't that be interesting and useful?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm more interested in the contents of the article. Does the author try to portray Tsarnaev accurately and dispassionately, or does he/she try to make him fit the politically-correct, morally-relativistic, therapeutic-society Narrative? Or maybe give him the gonzo-journalism treatment?

Having asked that, no, I'm not going to read the article. I've been following Tsarnaev's case since the beginning. I know enough about him already.

Like Hollywood, in the age of the Internet, RS is coming to the conversation WAY too late.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So Pretty Boy Tsaranev got his face on 'the cover of the Rolling Stone' - just like Dr. Hook sang all those years ago. The minute I saw that photo I thought - Oh Stuff, the Islamophobic victims of Stockholm syndrome (That's what Islamophobia really is) will be all over that one. Poor baby. Between the Federales and the Massachusetts legal system he has no chance of getting The Chair. Next: Amnesty for Tsaranev tee shirts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Jan Wenner started Rolling Stone on his father-in-law's nickel . After the magazine started selling, Wenner left his wife Jane for another guy. Why be surprised by anything that fool publishes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rolling Stone has not been exclusively about music for about four decades. Why on earth is a story like this (subject, I mean) a surprise? It's not to anyone who has read Rolling Stone beyond its first few issues.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Huh. Is Rolling Stone still being published? I thought the last aging remnant of its hippy-dippy readers all died of drug overdoses in the '80s.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, Bill, Rolling Stone actually has a larger circulation than Popular Science, Vogue, Playboy, or Popular Mechanics. So while someone is clearly and deeply out of touch with the Zeitgeist, Bill - I'm thinking it's not the magazine. Which means it must be...hey, NICE tie.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, that's hilarious. Obviously, Rolling Stone has the grasp of the Zeitgeist. After all, it has 20% of the circulation of Game Informer, 25% of that of Reader's Digest, half that of Maxim, it even comes in below Guideposts (there's the Zeitgeist, right? I mean, higher circulation than Rolling Stone) and Every Day With Rachel Ray (I'd kill myself, really).

Nice tie.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All that being said, d1, we're talking about it, and they're selling issues.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At least every third Rolling Stone has a cover story about leftist politics of the worst, paranoid sort. This is outrageous and insensitive, but no surprise.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Why the heck is Rolling Stone writing a cover story about Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Short answer: to make money.

Other short answer, the magazine thrives on being in your face."

This is the rag where one of its "pieces" brought down some US General serving in Afghanistan.

And you're surprised it's put out an article on the murderous little pothead found hiding in a boat ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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