Not merely because it depicts a kid who killed people, but because it depicts a kid who killed people in an unmistakably glowing light. Just look at the damn thing. He could be a movie star. A rocker. A hip-hop guy emerging on the scene. He looks young and cool and fresh and inspired.
I’m all for covering stories. I’m all for writing 10,000-word profiles on killers; on trying to unravel who they were and how they traveled from birth to murder. It’s a riveting saga, and one that should be told.
That said, we (in the media) can’t just do whatever the fuck we want, citing, “Journalistic freedom” as justification. The power of the pen comes with responsibility; comes with needed judgement and wisdom and a willingness (at times) not to run something. Just because Rolling Stone decided to run a piece on Boston doesn’t mean it has to place this demon on its cover, looking like Brad Pitt.
Print is sorta dead, and I’m probably one of Rolling Stone’s 83 paid subscribers. But, somewhere out there, kids exist who are angry and vengeful and seeking attention. They want to do something big; something bold; something that will result with them blowing up lots of shit, then disappearing in a blaze of glory.
This sort of cover doesn’t say, “What an awful tragedy.”
It says, “Shit, yeah!”