On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Gonna see my picture on the cover

Gonna buy five copies for my mother

            “The Cover of the Rolling Stone,” – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old-fashioned book burning in these parts but judging from the reaction to the upcoming Rolling Stone cover featuring accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, we may just be lighting a literary fire soon.

The magazine’s decision to put a flattering picture of Tsarnaev on the cover to accompany a story looking at how Tsarnaev may have gone from friendly, boy-next-door pothead to being viewed as one of the country’s most vile terrorists has lit up every imaginable media outlet online and in print. Nowhere is the firestorm more active than here in Boston with the outrage drowning out those who say it’s merely journalism at work.

The photo chosen by Rolling Stone is one Tsarnaev apparently took of himself and critics are charging that cropping it and placing it on the cover gives the alleged cold-blooded killer the kind of rock star treatment reserved for the icons of entertainment. And that may be the rub here. Rolling Stone has been an iconic chronicler of a generation, from music to culture, and to achieve such hallowed status has been viewed as “making it” among the glitterati.

Many are noting the picture Rolling Stone used is the same one that has been run by the New York Times and Washington Post. The New Yorker calls this a case of cultural self-censorship. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from jumping on the magazine for what many say is, at the least, insensitivity or, at most, a craven effort to profit from the pain of victims.

“The fact that other news outlets have used the same photo is almost entirely irrelevant, and for critics to pretend otherwise is an insult,” the Boston Herald wrote in its editorial condemning the cover. The Herald doesn’t explain, however, why it’s irrelevant.  In fact, on the day after Tsarnaev was captured following the massive manhunt, the paper chose a soulful, doe-eyed photo to dominate page 1.  Margery Eagan is the lone voice at the tabloid saying the cover can’t hurt us.

The Boston Globe, in trying to straddle the divide, doesn’t do much better. Arts critic Ty Burr weighed in with a column calling the choice irresponsible. The editorial page points put that a cover picture “is not always a celebration” of a subject, noting men such as Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson have been featured peering out at readers from magazine covers. Time magazine named Ayatollah Khomeini “Man of the Year” in 1979. But the Globe editorial then chides Rolling Stone for being “better at trying to create buzz than at recognizing the sensitivity of a recent incident that led to four Boston-area residents’ deaths and inflicted horrifying injuries on many more.” It’s a fair question to wonder if the same introspection occurred among Globe editors when they ran a graduation picture of Tsarnaev in a black tux with a red rose in his lapel on page 1 the day he was captured.

The angst does not end in the media. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ripped off what is probably his most eloquent letter in office to Rolling Stone while Gov. Deval Patrick described the decision as “out of taste.” CVS, Tedeschi Food Shops, Stop & Shop, and Shaw’s all say they won’t carry the magazine, the Associated Press reports.

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham has one of the smarter takes on the whole issue.

“That shot of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as handsome stoner doesn’t make me any less angry than I already was about the crimes of which he’s accused,” she writes. “It doesn’t make him any more sympathetic a figure.”

                                                                                                                                                                      –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

State Auditor Suzanne Bump releases an audit that says the state Department of Conservation and Recreation is a terrible landlord, CommonWealth reports.

The House overwhelmingly rejects Gov. Deval Patrick’s contingency plan for transportation funding, the Telegram & Gazette reports. The Herald notes the situation has made strange bedfellows of Patrick and Republican lawmakers. The Globe’s Michael Farrell reports that leaders of the state’s tech industry were asleep at the switch as lawmakers developed plans for a tax on software services that now has business leaders alarmed and warning that the levy could cripple the state’s innovation economy.

The unemployed are having trouble getting through to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to find out about their benefits, while Secretary Joanne Goldstein argues all is well. The MetroWest Daily News argues Goldstein’s reply isn’t good enough.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Andover officials limit entrance to Pomps Pond to residents only in apparent violation of the law, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

CASINOS

Towns surrounding Milford want to make sure their interests are considered by Foxwoods.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Reports suggest a deal has been reached on student loan rates, NPR reports (via WBUR).

Richard Cordray confirmed by the US Senate as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, NPR reports (via WBUR).

The debt crisis slinks off into the sunset.

ELECTIONS

A Herald poll finds 40 percent of Boston voters undecided in the city’s mayoral contest.

New York grapples with the simultaneous comebacks of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer. How many disgraced pols can one city handle?

Gail Collins ponders a Senate with Liz Cheney in it.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

US Rep. Niki Tsongas, state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, and former state senator Steven Pangiotakos send a letter to the board of Demoulas supermarkets, siding with Arthur T. Demoulas in the family feud afflicting the company, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Customers and employees are also rallying behind the supermarket CEO, NECN reports.

HEALTH CARE

Researchers at UMass Medical Center in Worcester figure out how to shut off the chromosome associated with Down syndrome, the Telegram & Gazette reports.  Here is the Globe account.

Massachusetts communities are confronting a rash of heroin overdoses.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A new report says a carbon tax could spur the economy, CommonWealth reports.

State green energy mandates are beating back challenges across the country, even in conservative states, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Scituate wind turbine is back online but running sporadically more than three weeks after it was hit by lightening.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station may have to shut down because the sea water it uses for cooling has gotten too warm during the current heat wave.

Worcester and Taunton receive federal funds for brownfields cleanups.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Coast Guard says it is studying whether to bill someone for the more than $300,000 cost for a two-day search in May for a missing kayaker who was later found wandering a Fairhaven beach.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Michael McLaughlin, who fleeced the Chelsea Housing Authority out of hundreds of thousands of dollars while claiming to be its turnaround executive director, is sentenced to three years in prison by a federal judge.The judge in the case doubled the sentence sought by prosecutors, reports the Lowell Sun.

Questions swirl around a three-car accident in Milton that started when a car driven by Norfolk DA Michael Morrissey crossed into the lane of oncoming traffic.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

Ancestry.com, an online genealogy search site, has uploaded more than 220 million historic New England records dating back to colonial times and is opening up its database for free today through Sunday.

US Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Rep. Richard Neal are trying to get the FCC to lift a requirement that requires a partial cable television blackout of WCVB Boston in the Berkshires.