Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale

The sale plans were devised by Mr. Wenner’s 27-year-old son, Gus, who has aggressively pared down the assets of Rolling Stone’s parent company, Wenner Media, in response to financial pressures. The Wenners recently sold the company’s other two magazines, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. And last year, they sold a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone to BandLab Technologies, a music technology company based in Singapore.

Both Jann and Gus Wenner, the president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, said they intended to stay on at Rolling Stone. But they said they also recognized that the decision could ultimately be up to the new owner.

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A special exhibition in honor of the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The exhibition opened in May.

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Duane Prokop/Getty Images

Still, the potential sale of Rolling Stone — on the eve of its 50th anniversary, no less — underscores how inhospitable the media landscape has become as print advertising and circulation have dried up.

“There’s a level of ambition that we can’t achieve alone,” Gus Wenner said last week in an interview at the magazine’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. “So we are being proactive and want to get ahead of the curve.”

“Publishing is a completely different industry than what it was,” he added. “The trends go in one direction, and we are very aware of that.”

The Wenners’ decision is also another clear sign that the days of celebrity editors are coming to a close. Earlier this month, Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair and a socialite and star in his own right, announced he planned to leave the magazine after 25 years. Robbie Myers, the longtime editor of Elle, Nancy Gibbs of Time magazine and Cindi Leive of Glamour also said last week that they were stepping down.

Anthony DeCurtis, a veteran music critic and a longtime Rolling Stone contributing editor, said he never thought Jann Wenner would sell Rolling Stone.

“That sense of the magazine editor’s hands on the magazine — that’s what’s going to get lost here,” he said. “I don’t know who’s going to be able to step in and do that anymore.”

Wenner Media has hired bankers to explore its sale, but the process is just beginning. BandLab’s stake in the company could also complicate matters. Neither Jann…

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