Rolling Stone Hires The Daily Beast’s Noah Shachtman As Its New Editor

From a New York Times story by Marc Tracy headlined “‘Faster, Harder, Louder’: Rolling Stone Hires Daily Beast Editor”:

Rolling Stone has chosen Noah Shachtman, the top editor of the news site The Daily Beast, as its next editor in chief…calling on him to continue the transformation of the 54-year-old pop music bible into a digital-first publication.

Mr. Shachtman, 50, said that he plans to bring along The Daily Beast’s newsy approach and web metabolism when he starts his new job in September.

“It’s got to be faster, louder, harder,” he said. “We’ve got to be out getting scoops, taking people backstage, showing them parts of the world they don’t get to see every day.”

Mr. Shachtman will succeed Jason Fine, who stepped down in February after five and a half years as the top editor to take a job overseeing Rolling Stone’s podcasts, documentaries and other media ventures.

The selection of Mr. Shachtman was driven by Gus Wenner, Rolling Stone’s president and a son of Jann S. Wenner, who co-founded the magazine as a 21-year-old college dropout from a San Francisco apartment.

The elder Mr. Wenner sold a majority stake in Rolling Stone to Penske Media, the publishing company led by the auto-racing scion Jay Penske, in 2017. Two years later, Penske Media bought the remaining stake from BandLab Technologies, a music technology company based in Singapore.

“I love that his strength is in an area where we need to get stronger,” Gus Wenner, 30, said of Mr. Shachtman. “But he’s certainly got the skill set on long-form pieces, and that’s going to continue to be super important, too.”

“Five years from now, I want Rolling Stone to be at the forefront of content creation across any platform: films, podcasts, the website, the magazine,” Mr. Wenner added. He cited, among other things, the Rolling Stone channel on the gaming platform Twitch.

Before becoming the top editor of The Daily Beast in 2018, Mr. Shachtman covered technology and the defense industry as a freelance journalist and an early blogger. He later founded and edited the Wired blog “Danger Room,” a winner of a National Magazine Award in 2012.

He brought to The Daily Beast a hard-hitting style reminiscent of New York’s tabloids. In recent years, the site, which the editor Tina Brown and the media entrepreneur Barry Diller started in 2008, kept a close watch on the Trump administration, the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking case and conservative media outlets.

Tracy Connor, The Daily Beast’s executive editor, will serve as interim editor in chief after Mr. Shachtman’s departure next month, the chief executive, Heather Dietrick, announced. Ms. Dietrick added of Mr. Shachtman: “Under his guidance, we made a bigger impact and reached more people in diverse formats than ever before. He was at our helm but also in the trenches every day.”

Mr. Shachtman said that Rolling Stone would continue to cover pop music, digital culture and the entertainment industry, and that its outlook would often be skeptical. Some critics have contended that the magazine has sometimes veered away from journalism into fandom.

“Rolling Stone’s at its best when it’s both celebrating great art and taking down bad actors,” Mr. Shachtman said, adding that he has little interest in cozying up to celebrities….

A money-losing enterprise as recently as three years ago, Rolling Stone is now profitable, Mr. Wenner said. The monthly print edition, with a circulation of roughly 500,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, is profitable by itself, he added.

In 2018, the magazine returned to its old large-size format, 10 inches by 12 inches, after a decade on newsstands in the more common 8-by-11 size. Rolling Stone started charging for online access last year. It attracts around 30 million unique visitors each month, Mr. Wenner said.

Mr. Shachtman and Mr. Wenner are white men at a magazine known for publishing in-depth articles on white male rock gods like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend and Mick Jagger when the baby boom generation was ascendant.

“We’re in a different era now,” Mr. Shachtman said. “No one appreciates the legacy of Rolling Stone more than me. But legacy is very different from future.”

Mr. Wenner said he had considered “a very diverse and wide range of candidates” for the job of leading the magazine.

“Diversity continues to be one of our biggest priorities, and it’s something Noah and I and Jay discussed at great length,” he added. “Continuing to bring in incredible leaders within the staff from all backgrounds will be a top mandate and priority of Noah’s.”

Although he is a longtime journalist, Mr. Shachtman knows his way around a chord progression. From college into his 30s, he played bass in a series of ska, reggae and dub bands, including the 3rd Degree and Skinnerbox NYC. Along the way he played New York’s CBGB, Washington’s 9:30 Club and other storied venues.

“He was good at appreciating the groove and holding things together,” said Jon Natchez, a saxophonist in the rock group the War on Drugs, who played alongside Mr. Shachtman in a ska band called Stubborn All-Stars.

Mr. Shachtman, who lives in Brooklyn, said he had kept tabs on the latest in youth culture through his two sons, noting the social gaming platform Roblox as an example.

“Getting into the spaces that are too weird, too confusing and too dangerous for parents to be in — that’s where Rolling Stone’s got to be,” he said.

Marc Tracy covers print and digital media. He previously covered college sports.

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