after a half-century reign that propelled him into the realm of the rock stars and celebrities who graced his covers, Mr. [Jan] Wenner is putting his company’s controlling stake in Rolling Stone up for sale, relinquishing his hold on a publication he has led since its founding.
Mr. Wenner had long tried to remain an independent publisher in a business favoring size and breadth. But he acknowledged in an interview last week that the magazine he had nurtured would face a difficult, uncertain future on its own.
“I love my job, I enjoy it, I’ve enjoyed it for a long time,” said Mr. Wenner, 71. But letting go, he added, was “just the smart thing to do.”
The sale plans were devised by Mr. Wenner’s 27-year-old son, Gus, who has aggressively pared down the assets of Rolling Stone’s parent company, Wenner Media, in response to financial pressures. The Wenners recently sold the company’s other two magazines, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. And last year, they sold a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone to BandLab Technologies, a music technology company based in Singapore.
Both Jann and Gus Wenner, the president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, said they intended to stay on at Rolling Stone. But they said they also recognized that the decision could ultimately be up to the new owner.
Still, the potential sale of Rolling Stone — on the eve of its 50th anniversary, no less — underscores how inhospitable the media landscape has become as print advertising and circulation have dried up.
Didn’t See this Coming…
Maybe you understand my tone, maybe you don’t, but the point of that subheading is this: Is it really that surprising that a print media company is facing hard times? Regardless of how integral that publication has been to art, politics, and culture, it’s 2017 and people under 50 don’t read actual print. I’m sorry, that’s just not how it works anymore.
That being said, still a bit of a dagger for fans of the famous publication or journalism in general. Okay, yes, it’s no Washington Post (@Woodward & Bernstein), but there were some quality stories that were published by Rolling Stone. Many presidents and prospective president’s have stopped for interviews, the counterculture icon Hunter S Thompson had his famous story “Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Tom Wolfe had biweekly pieces in the magazine in the mid 80s, it launched the career of famous pop culture/celebrity photographer Anne Leibowitz who took most of the cover images and the famous John Lennon fetal position photo. They have possibly the country’s most notable film critic in Peter Travers, a very well known political journalist and author in Matt Taibbi. Taibbi published the daunting story on Goldman Sachs, and ended the career of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal with his story “The Runaway General”.
Of course there is the botched UVA rape allegation story from 2014, and the company’s financial situation in the past decade or so. The later could be attributed to the worlds move away from print media and towards the internet- Rolling Stone has a website but most of it’s money is going to come from its print publication.
So yes, it’s had its ups and downs for sure, but what institution that has lasted for 50 years hasn’t? For many if not most of those 50 years Rolling Stone was the tastemaker in pop culture and music. A cover feature on RS meant you were in, and odds are you would be there for a bit. An album reviewed in Rolling Stone meant that you were being heard in a major way. Gonzo journalism gained popularity with Hunter Thompson at Rolling Stone. The print was a guide for baby boomers and the counterculture alike. And let’s not forget what is perhaps the most famous cover of any publication ever?
So today, while we aren’t exactly saying goodbye, we are welcoming a new chapter in the life of this publication, one that is sure to bring surprises and probably money, there’s money involved in everything these days (@love). So say goodbye to the only incarnation of the publication you have ever known, and say hello to… something different?