I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.
Hot news from the magazine world: Wenner Media, publisher of venerable music/culture magazine Rolling Stone, has just hired its first-ever executive with responsibility for all things digital.
Oh. My. God. What decade are we in?
Let's face it, Rolling Stone, once the hippest magazine on the planet, hasn't been anything like hip for decades. Dislocated hip, maybe, or broken hip. Something elderly-sounding. But even that's no excuse for how badly the magazine has missed the digital zeitgeist. This probably shouldn't be surprising, since it never really caught up with the music video revolution a generation ago, either, and is still largely stuck in the '60s and '70s in its view of music and culture.
Its Web site is abominable, the worst sort of cut-and-paste print repurposing job, and founder and CEO Jann Wenner still openly worries about cannibalizing print readers by putting content online. (Good news, though: He's started reading the New York Times online! Far out, man!) Turns out, in fact, that RollingStone.com has basically been outsourced to Real Networks (another happening sort of outfit) for the past few years. Sheesh.
Now, finally, Rolling Stone is going to try to get with this digital thing all the kids are talking about–you know, that social networking stuff and those mp3s and iPod thingies they seem to be using to play music instead of vinyl LPs and 45s. What a concept. The magazine must be all-a-Twitter. Better (or worse) yet, the company's new chief digital officer comes from no less a cutting-edge publisher than...Readers Digest.
Best of luck to them, but this is just more proof that, when it comes to the online realm, magazines make even newspapers look forward-thinking. In the end, the lesson here may be, to twist a phrase on which Rolling Stone all but based its founding philosophy back in 1967: Never trust any magazine over 30.