Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Boston Terrorist On the Cover of the Rolling Stone...and 911 calls

There's been an outcry both on social media and in political circles( Boston Mayor letter of criticism)  on Rolling Stones magazines cover showing the Boston bomber on it's latest issue.

I guess the question I have is, history has shown that magazines have covered similar subject matters, was there an outcry then? I don't know, just asking.  Hitler, Bin Laden, Charles Manson come to mind.

What's different from Rolling Stone vs Time Magazine? Time Magazine did the same thing with the Columbine shooters. What am I missing here? Journalistic freedom or abuse there of or blatant insensitivity?

Either way, TV, Newspapers, Magazines 'celebritize' violent acts by reporting names of the perpetrators in their issues and covers. Unfortunately we see it time and time again. Columbine, Newtown CT,  Tucson AZ, Aurora CO, Virginia Tech,  how's RS's decision  any different? Perhaps they're providing rock star treatment? Or as this subscriber has witnessed, RS has been making a much stronger play to report on more than just music for years.

Is Rolling Stone considered a news publication? Review the many years of past issues and decide. Entertainment photos, musically and cinematically as well as politically. Their interviews and articles have ranged from the Vietnam war to politics to drugs to sex and of course music,  you name it and they've probably covered it.

Their name and history alone speaks to rock stardom and celebrity. Have they crossed the line?

If we're angry at RS, we should be angry with TV and other media outlets and prohibit the release of photos/names of those criminals and instead of 'promoting it' and be more sensitive.

By no means do I condone it( and no I'm not cancelling my subscription), I'm just stating a fact: Sensationalism sells and good journalism does to.  The mere fact that social media is discussing it is in itself doing what RS wants, publicity, directly or indirectly.  How's the saying go? "There's no such thing as bad publicity" as associated with PT Barnum. Well, relatively speaking any way.  But it's a sad fact, sensationalism sells. Unfortunately, it comes at the price of sensitivity and respect to those that have suffered from acts of violence. Could they have shown photos of the victims, sure, but would that have garnered as much attention? Again, it speaks to publicity.

Or are they wishing to debate a cultural issue:  "How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster",  as the cover states.

Sensitivity and journalism can long be debated, it has for many years and will continue. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information Act allows our American society to speak, either verbally or written; freely.

Let's take 911 calls for instance, what's the real value of releasing to the general public the sometimes gut wrenching recordings of victims on 911 tapes?  What social value does that bring? Freedom of Information act? Please!! 

Imagine you're a victim or you've lost a loved one or a friend by the result of a violent act and the 911 call for help is re-broadcasted on your local and national news.  Do we need to relive these moments? There's sensitivity and privacy at stake here. What's the real social value here? My view is we prohibit the airing of these calls, period.

A magazine decides to sell their publication with a terrorist on the cover and other news organizations, TV and internet are doing the same thing, so the questions remain:

What's different and where do we as a society draw the line?

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