The Weekly Ramble: Rolling Stone’s cover

As you may have noticed, Sub-three continues to evolve. I’m introducing The Weekly Ramble, which sounds a lot like its name: an unplanned run with twists and turns, and darts down side streets and sudden plunges onto unexpected trails.

First of all, long-time readers of Sub-three know I haven’t written The Sunday Read for a long time, even though it was one of the best read weekly items. Why? Partly because it was turning into a lot of work, to the point where I needed a break from compiling and writing up the five weekly items.

Instead, I have developed a Facebook page, Sub-three Running. I like that format because I don’t have to save items for the week, sometimes getting scooped in the process; rather, the Facebook page has the immediacy of journalism, allowing me to blog the news right away. So think of the Facebook page as The Sunday Read every day, all through the day. Already, I have blogged news items on a number of road, trail and ultra subjects faster than much of the mainstream press.

If it interests you, please give it a “like,” over here:

Now, on to Rolling Stone’s controversial decision to put the alleged Boston Marathon bomber on the cover of the magazine. As reported elsewhere, Facebook and Twitter erupted with strong negative reaction to the cover when it came out.

The National Post reported that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the cover “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”

Given that the cover line calls bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “a monster,” that doesn’t quite ring true to me.

Frankly, I think a large feature profile of Tsarnaev would be of interest. When the bombings took place, along with concerns over the safety of the victims, everyone wanted to know who would do such a thing. Not having had a chance to read the story yet, I would assume the article sets out to answer that question.

Some fuss has been made about how Tsarnaev looks on the cover. Again the Post cites “warm lighting” and dishevelled hair,” comparing his picture to Jim Morrison, the former lead singer for The Doors.

The controversial Rolling Stone cover

The controversial Rolling Stone cover

Well, it’s not like Tsarnaev posed for Anne Lebovitz for the cover shot or anything.

I think it’s a pretty provocative shot: Tsarnaev could be typical of his generation with his T-shirt, long hair and a little hipster beard. It makes you look closely in wonder, and peer harder into his eyes, to see if you can discern some darkness, some real evil in that bland face.

Journalism in general and Rolling Stone in particular have never shied away from strong stories. Long before it became a music magazine, Rolling Stone was an alternative publication. In recent years, it’s worked hard to re-position itself in that space again.

The magazine has a long history of fine long-form journalism. Most famously, Hunter S. Thompson published Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas in extracts in the magazine’s pages. More recently, Rolling Stone has returned to its alternative roots and run a number of lengthy investigative news pieces on a variety of subjects.

In this time of short web news blasts and shrinking newspapers, frankly I think we should celebrate the fact that a few outlets for serious journalism remain with the resources to place into serious reporting.

How Tsarnaev ended up in prison is a story worthy of our attention. His story is far more important than, say, Justin Timberlake’s latest recording. I don’t believe the magazine’s intent is sensationalism, but rather solid, investigative, explanatory journalism. I, for one, will be interested to read the story.

About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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