Dream Jobs: Rolling Stone Magazine

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“It’s not just about the music, it’s about the things and attitudes the music embraces.”- Jann Wenner In November of 1967, young entrepreneur and avid hippie culturist Jann Wenner and his friend music critic Ralph J. Gleason launched the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine.  Using traditional journalistic standards, Rolling Stone magazine became known for its liberal political bend and music reviews.  Over the years the magazine has adjusted its format to cater more to the entertainment industry, while continuing its tradition of exceptional journalism through exposes of financial scandals and current political issues.

Working for Rolling Stone magazine launched the careers of many successful journalists, photographers and directors whose work crafted the stellar reputation the magazine enjoyed throughout the 1970s.  These include Robert Altman, Cameron Crowe, Kurt Loder, Caroline Kennedy, and P.J. O’Rourke.  Most famous of these trendsetters are journalist Hunter S. Thompson and photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Much of the magazine’s reputation for engaging content and eye-catching poster worthy covers comes from the work of these two.  Thompson is the creator of gonzo journalism, an experimental style of journalism in which the reporter is involved that they become a central figure in the story.  This style is well documented in the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which originally appeared as serialized story in the pages of the Rolling Stone in 1971.

Annie Leibovitz became the staff photographer for Rolling Stone in 1973. For over two decades she created some of the most iconic images of musicians, politicians and athletes, elevating the magazine’s marketability and collectability.  Leibovitz learned to engage her subjects in such a way that her photographs revealed her subjects personality and passions.

Although the magazine has received criticism for changing its format to cater to a younger audience more concerned with the entirety of the entertainment industry, reverence for the magazine’s politically minded journalism was renewed by journalists Michael Hastings and Matt Taibbi.  Hastings inside look America’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan was hailed as a three sheets to the wind, sex riddled ale of America’s endorsed assassins.   Matt Taibbi is now regarded as an expert on the financial scandals of the current economic climate, after his coverage of the Goldman Sachs calamity.

Rolling Stone magazine has taken some tough commentary over the years; but because the magazine has been able to thoroughly embrace the times that are a changing, it continues to be the sought after source of American youth culture and music aficionados.  It’s an absolute dream job for any photographer, photojournalist or music critic.

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