Does Substance Trump Sensationalism? Debating Rolling Stone Reportage After Cover Controversy

July 18, 2013

  Rolling Stone magazine's decision to run a cover photo of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev prompted strong reaction from readers Wednesday. Those who objected said Rolling Stone portrayed the suspect in a sympathetic light, or — going further — said the photograph gave Tsarnaev celebrity status. First Amendment defenders supported Rolling Stone's right to provoke thoughtful discussion with the cover shot.

Rolling Stone has since published reporter Janet Reitman's piece on Tsarnaev, his family and his circle of friends. While the magazine cover drew criticism, the reporting has not. On Boston Public Radio Jim Braude and Margery Eagan looked at the details of Reitman's extensive article, and asked callers who'd read it to weigh in.

What do you think — did substance trump sensationalism? Was the cover disrespectful, regardless of article content? What can we learn from this?

Also on BPR:

  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett.
  • Chris Lydon, on stealthily-good summer reads.
  • Adam Reilly on the death of Stephen Rakes, who was at one time on a witness list in the James "Whitey" Bulger trial.
  • Kara Miller — host of Innovation Hub — talked about the unlikely way executives use favors and good cheer to get ahead.

WGBH News is supported by:
Back to top