Rolling Stone creator takes a stand against magazines’ rush to the iPad

Jun 1, 2011
Tech

As publishers such as Condé Nast jump on the iPad bandwagon, Jann Wenner, the creator of Rolling Stone and whose company Wenner Media publishes Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal, has provided a perspective on the other side of the rainbow. He called his competitors ‘insane’ to rush to iPad publication in an interview […]

As publishers such as Condé Nast jump on the iPad bandwagon, Jann Wenner, the creator of Rolling Stone and whose company Wenner Media publishes Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal, has provided a perspective on the other side of the rainbow. He called his competitors ‘insane’ to rush to iPad publication in an interview with Advertising Age.

Surely, someone probably thought Wenner himself was at least a bit off-kilter when he started Rolling Stone out of rent-free loft over a printer in San Francisco with a volunteer staff and zero overhead, but that’s neither here nor there as it enters its fifth decade of operation in an Internet-heavy era of publication. Wenner has not exactly been an advocate for pushing magazines on the Internet in the first place, as he let another company license and operate Rolling Stone’s website through last year.

While he supports using the Web to enhance the experience for print readers, he thinks it’s a mistake for magazines to go solely online or straight to the iPad since the audience numbers are not there to ensure ad sales. Perhaps more controversially, he believes the move to tablet-focused magazine publishing is decades away, saying it may take a generation or two before the decisive shift to iPad magazines is complete.

He also discussed the challenges facing news magazines such as Time and Newsweek in the 24-hour news cycle, stressing that there are still many advantages to the print product. “In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and the availability of the Internet you have to focus on those qualities in your magazine even more,” he said, noting the importance of photography, quality reads and design. “Really, you have to deliver quality more than ever. And unless you can deliver something that’s quality and really compelling there’s just too many f**king media choices around now.”

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While Wenner’s voice may be seen as just another contributor to the ongoing conversation about the future of magazine publishing on the iPad and other digital platforms, it’s an important voice with a lot of sway in the industry. But whether the move takes decades or days, it seems inevitable that the stone will roll in the direction of tablet-friendly publishing one day.

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