I haven’t yet read the article, but I think a lot of people are missing the point of the Rolling Stone cover.  My immediate reaction was “wow, this kid looks like so many average America kids I know” and thus how do you spot a terrorist?  Not all terrorist are going to fit the neat profile and stereotypes we’ve established.  How does a kid living in America with his entire life ahead of him become radicalized to commit an act of terror?  If you went “hey, what a cute rockstar!” and then didn’t go “oh damn, that’s a terrorist” then you didn’t pick up an the irony.  Sometimes a shocking juxtaposition can make a huge impact.
And the tagline “How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by his Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster” really clues you in.

Seriously, can’t a magazine follow something other than the People magazine format and style?

Not in CVS and Walgreen’s world!