July 22, 2013

In a thoughtful segment yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” guest host David Folkenflik of NPR gave what we can only hope is the last word on the uproar over Rolling Stone’s cover photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Addressing the offense taken by many folks over this somewhat sultry cover, guest Keith Jenkins, a senior photo director for National Geographic, said, “I think that journalists have an interesting responsibility. Part of that is to tell the truth and part of that is sometimes to tell truth that hurts.” Right there — that’s the crux of this one. Critics may have protested that the shot glamorized the suspected bomber, that it had given him a spot reserved for pop-culture heroes and so on. But the critique could never handle the truth: The image captured the Tsarnaev that all his friends knew.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.