WILKES-BARRE — No stranger to controversy, Rolling Stone magazine has stirred emotions and raised free speech debate by putting alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of the issue on newsstands today.
But that issue will not be available in some outlets in the Wyoming Valley because some vendors don’t want to sell the edition.
Sheetz, with five locations in Luzerne County, will not offer the issue for sale on its newsstands.
Sheetz joins CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and other chain stores in its decision. A spokesman for Turkey Hill Minit Markets, with more than 20 locations in Luzerne County, said Thursday the company has not made a decision yet.
In Wilkes-Barre, Anthracite Newsstand on Public Square decided after discussion it would continue to sell the issue when it hits shelves this morning. Co-owner Ann Marie Bossard said she knows the people who buy Rolling Stone every week are going to look for it. More important, she said, they wanted to give people a choice.
“It is a freedom that we have,” said Bossard, of Wilkes-Barre.
The clerk at Leo Matus News Stand on Public Square said it will sell the issue, but the owner was not available for comment.
First Amendment issue
As a First Amendment advocate, Wilkes University communications professor Loran Lewis said newsstands should not make any changes. “I do not think they should decide what people should and should not read,” he said.
Although the magazine’s photo choice is controversial, said Lewis, it is not out of the norm for Rolling Stone, which featured Charles Manson on its cover in 1970.
“It has a history of doing investigative stories,” he said. “It is not unusual for Rolling Stone to do this. They have been doing it for decades.”
The editors of the magazine released a statement saying the story “falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”
Wilkes University gets a subscription to Rolling Stone, so Lewis received an early copy of it. While many people believe the cover glamorizes Tsarnaev, Lewis said the article features the story of how a teenager turned into the accused Boston bomber.
“Having a picture showing him as an average kid works in that regard,” he said.
Mary Ann Angel Soroka, of Kingston, said she will buy the magazine for the article to “read it and see what it is about,” but does not believe the terror suspect should be on the cover.
“Why advertise somebody like him?” Soroka, 64, said.