Allow me to begin by saying that I enjoy Sports Illustrated. They do not just simply report the news; they bring it to life and provide meaning behind it. When I was younger, I used to have a yearly subscription. At some point, I cancelled it, no longer having the time to sit down and read a full magazine, but I still followed much of their coverage.
Two features of the magazine that I always enjoyed were Rick Reilly’s last page column (before he left for ESPN) and their Faces In The Crowd page which talked about the extraordinary accomplishments of amateur or unknown athletes (a sample from a little over a month ago can be found here for those who have never before seen it). This page may not have sold copies, but readers noticed it. SI could market themselves with their professional journalistic work, but segments like this were an added bonus that set them apart.
With all of that said, I was disappointed when I saw their cover page for this week’s issue. Do not get me wrong, I fully expected that it would involve Penn State, but something is not right about it. Some words and phrases featured on the cover are: Penn State, failure, shame, scandal, painful, and Paterno legacy. What is missing you might ask? Maybe some mention, if not a picture, of JERRY SANDUSKY?! You know, the gentleman who put us in this mess.
Many other individuals seemed to also disagree with the choice for the cover. Here is a sampling of some responses gathered so far:
- “I think the media is crap and is focusing on what sells versus what is important.”
- “Sandusky should be on the front… for sure.”
- “It’s shameful. Nobody thinks about telling the truth, solely based on your last report on Anderson Cooper, which is great by the way. It’s all about making the most money possible, and most of these magazines and newscasts are going to get the most money within these three weeks. It’s sickening, and it shows how disgusting society has become: they root for people to fail, even the best.”
- “Sure the photo matches the somber mood, but JoePa isn’t the one they should be shaming on the cover. He wasn’t the one pinning the little boy up against the wall in the shower.”
- “Are you kidding me?! There’s a reason I stopped paying attention to the news years ago. The media is inherently incapable of reporting stories accurately. He who makes the most money wins. It is disgusting. There needs to be some sort of standards put in place against these sort of blatant misrepresentations.”
Some of these comments are expressed better than others, and I, personally, am not knocking Sports Illustrated for its coverage. Everyone wants to talk about Joe Paterno, myself included, and I look forward to reading what they have to say. However, as has been pointed out several times already, this scandal is much bigger than just Paterno. I have, on the record, said that he made some mistakes, but he continues to be the main target of criticism while Sandusky’s name is popping up only sporadically (thank you, Bob Costas, for the other night).
The thought of staring at Jerry Sandusky’s face upon opening a magazine does make me a little sick, but it is a stretch to say that Joe Paterno standing in the end zone of Michigan Stadium best represents a special report on this scandal. You can do better, SI.
Do not let my words stop you from purchasing a copy of the magazine. Read what some excellent writers have to say about the investigation. A magazine should not be judged based on its cover, but that doesn’t mean the cover is correct.