November 21, 2017
Who’s gonna buy Rolling Stone?
by Taylor Sperry
Someone’s going to buy Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, and according to Peter Kafka at Recode it’s down to three bidders: “a publisher best known for trade magazines, another publisher that has never run a magazine, and one [bidder] that doesn’t publish anything at all.” Those guys (yes, all guys) are Jay Penske (Variety, Women’s Wear Daily), Bryan Goldberg (Bleacher Report, Bustle), and Irving Azoff (“longtime music industry executive who has known Wenner for decades and who doesn’t have any experience running a media property”), respectively.
One of these men is not like the other.
Not only is Azoff the only contender without publishing experience, he’s also in his late sixties — a generation ahead of Penske and Goldberg, who are both in their thirties. (Penske’s Wikipedia page doesn’t list his age, but it does say that he set the record for goals, assists, and total points playing lacrosse for St. Mary’s prep in 1997, so.) This is only really notable because Wenner had indicated to the New York Times that it might be time for “young people to run [Rolling Stone].” Maybe, maybe not.
In any case, the magazine industry has had a hell of a… fall. In September, we reported on a slew of high-profile departures that began with Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter (his successor, Radhika Jones, was announced last week), and soon thereafter included ELLE’s Robbie Myers, TIME’s Nancy Gibbs, and Glamour’s Cindi Leive.
We also noted that Condé Nast is not only in the middle of a hiring freeze, but is also cutting eighty jobs, reducing the number of annual issues for several publications, and ceasing print publication of Teen Vogue altogether.
It’s only November, but I think all of us will be relieved to wish 2017 good riddance.
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.