Rolling Stone Magazine Being Put on the Block

Publication launched music journalism and careers of countless writers.

September 18, 2017 9:42 am

If you’ve been following the Wenner Media fire sale, all of the company’s major titles—including Us Weekly and Men’s Journal—have sold off in recent months. Except for the big one: Rolling Stone magazine.

Now, you can add it to the pile, too.

According to The New York Times, editor Jann Wenner, who founded the magazine in San Francisco exactly 50 years ago this year, will be selling his majority stake in the publication. He calls the move “the smart thing to do.”

Jann Wenner, 24, couldn’t make enough money freelancing rock ‘n’ roll articles, do he followed the ‘path of least resistance’ and started his own publication, the bi-weekly tabloid Rolling Stone, a copy of which he displays at his home recently. He now finds he has little time to devote to writing because of his duties as editor, publisher and chief stockholder of a $2 million a year publishing business. (Bettmann/Contributor)

During the half-century following its founding, Rolling Stone would all but invent music and countercultural journalism, hiring some of the top minds of the day, including Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe.

The plan to sell the magazine was actually not the elder Wenner’s idea, but his son’s. Gus Wenner has taken over the day-to-day operation reins from his father, and has been seen as the heir-apparent of the Wenner Media throne. The two told the Times that they would hope a new owner would allow them to stay on at the company, but that the decision would ultimately be up to that new owner.

The print industry has taken a major hit in the digital age, as has Rolling Stone itself, weathering a series of controversies, including putting the Boston Marathon bomber on their cover; and retracting a campus rape article that cost the company dearly in court—as well as the court of public opinion.

The industry has also been bleeding top talent in recent weeks, among them Vanity Fair‘s editor Graydon Carter, who announced he’d be leaving the magazine after 25 years.

It’s unclear how much the magazine will sell for, but it’s certainly not worth the $500 million the elder Wenner once said he was offered for the music title.

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