Rolling Stone is being put up for sale. On Sunday, the iconic magazine’s founder Jann Wenner and his son Gus Wenner announced the sale. The magazine was founded in 1967 and has been a linchpin of music, politics, and pop culture journalism for 50 years, but the shift in traditional media to online media has presented problems for Rolling Stone. “There’s a level of ambition that we can’t achieve alone,” said Gus, who is president and chief operating officer of Rolling Stone’s parent company, Wenner Media. “So we are being proactive and want to get ahead of the curve. Publishing is a completely different industry than what it was. The trends go in one direction, and we are very aware of that.”
Rolling Stone’s print and online publications reach 60 million people each month, and they said their online traffic has grown by nearly 50 percent over the past three years. However, they have seen the harsh economic realities of the digital age. Last year, Wenner sold a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone to BandLab Technologies, a music technology company based in Singapore. Now the Wenners are selling the remaining 51 percent, and hope to find a buyer that understands Rolling Stone’s mission. The Wenners want to “find the right home to build on our strong foundation and grow the business exponentially.” Janner also said they are hoping to find a buyer that has “lots of money.”
“I love my job, I enjoy it, I’ve enjoyed it for a long time,” Janner told the New York Times. But letting go was “just the smart thing to do.”
Besides the challenges of making a profit with an online publication, Rolling Stone has suffered major hits to their bank accounts and reputation following a story they published in November of 2014 regarding an alleged gang rape at a frat house University of Virginia. The article was later debunked and the article was retracted on April 5, 2015. Rolling Stone settled a defamation lawsuit from the fraternity for $1.65 million and a federal jury ordered the magazine and the writer of the article to pay $3 million in damages to a University of Virginia administrator over a discredited story.