From a journalism standpoint, there shouldn't be any real criticism of a magazine diving into the background of a young man who went from a fairly normal teenager to that of an accused terrorist. We need to know more about how that happened.
The problem is that the cover of the Rolling Stone is a landmark piece of journalistic real estate. Songs have been written about it. Careers in music and entertainment have been made or broken because of it. Putting Tsarnaev on the cover, in the manner in which the magazine did, invites controversy.
I don't have a problem with it. If you're going to do a story on an accused bomber, using his photograph is fair game.
However, others disagree, as you can see from this story in the Boston Herald, which is similar to many across the country today. The Rolling Stone editors have responded and explained the story. And, for what it's worth, here's a look at several other controversial Rolling Stone covers through the years. (Warning: The covers aren't child- or work-friendly.)
Meanwhile, some retail outlets have already decided not to carry the magazine.
-- Phillip Tutor