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Tsarnaev on Rolling Stone cover: Rock-star treatment or good journalism? (+video)

The Aug. 1 Rolling Stone cover has been harshly criticized for featuring what many are calling a glamorous photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.

Criticism of Rolling Stone's decision to decorate the cover of its August 1 issue with an image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was widespread Wednesday.
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Rolling Stone’s decision to feature Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its Aug. 1 cover has kicked up a social media and real world dust storm.

Facebook and the Twittersphere are surging with commentary, most of which – though not all – condemns what many are calling a glamorous, introspectively poetic photo that gives celebrity-style treatment to a terrorism suspect.

Indeed, the image is lifted from Mr. Tsarnaev’s own social media page – and if Facebook had existed when Bob Dylan was a teen, this could easily have been his self-portrait.

In Boston, both Tedeschi Food shops and CVS have announced they will not sell the issue.

In the bottom right corner of the cover, the headline reads: “The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by his Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and became a Monster.”

If you flip to page 46, the story begins soberly enough: “He was a charming kid with a bright future. But no one saw the pain he was hiding or the monster he would become.”

The problem with the story, say the critics, is that what many consider the disastrous effects of romanticizing evil have already happened, long before anyone flips into the actual magazine piece.

A statement released by Rolling Stone Wednesday defended the story as “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.” However the statement did not directly address characterizations of Tsarnaev’s cover image.

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