Rolling Stone Media Analysis

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3 Rolling Stone: Shifting from Alternative towards Mainstream Media
This chapter analyzes the evolution of Rolling Stone on the U.S. media market. It shows how the magazine has shifted its orientation from the alternative media covering the American countercultural trends of the 1960s towards the mainstream media writing about the contemporary American popular culture.

3.1 The Beginnings of the Magazine
Rolling Stone is one of the most prominent U.S. entertainment magazines. It was launched in San Francisco in 1967 by a twenty-one-year-old Lee Chadwick’s boarding high school graduate and a Berkeley dropout Jann Wenner. Before dropping out of Berkeley and starting up the magazine, Wenner managed to gain some professional experience, which
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At the same time it was more than just about rock music. In Wenner’s words, his magazine has also been covering the “things and attitudes that the music embraces… To describe it any further would be difficult without sounding like bullshit, and bullshit is like gathering moss” (Draper 69). Readers trusted Rolling Stone’s rock coverage, because the magazine managed to understand exactly how important this new music genre and respective cultural realm was. If other American rock and roll magazines either trivialized rock and roll (e.g. Ramparts), put it on high with the utterances of Plato and Aristotle (e.g. Crawdaddy!), or ignored it (mainstream press), Rolling Stone simply wrote about it. A truly revolutionary idea that stands behind Wenner’s magazine is that Rolling Stone did not define or deify rock and roll, but covered it. Rolling Stone’s journalists interviewed rock stars as seriously and comprehensively as Time’s reporters interviewed American top-ranked politicians or businessmen. Rolling Stone made rock music worthy of analysis and rock stars notable news figures (McMillian). At the end of 1969, the magazine was recognized as the most authoritative rock and roll magazine in the USA. It became a generation’s trustworthy blunt voice. Political activists labeled them “the New Left”. Establishment journalists pronounced them “hippies”. Richard Nixon called them “bums” (Draper 6). These labels clearly show…show more content…
Since that time it has positioned itself in the realm of popular culture. From a theoretical point of view, the norms and values of popular culture are mainstream, mass and dominant in the society. There are six most common definitions of popular culture (Storey 5-13). First, popular culture is widely favored or well liked by many people. Second, popular culture consists of the elements that are excluded from high culture (culture of the upper-class, or a repository of broad cultural knowledge). In this sense, popular culture is shared by the less well-educated and by the worse-off and its elements do not have big cultural value. Third, popular culture is commercial culture. It creates mass-produced goods for mass consumption and its audience represents a mass of non-discriminating consumers. Fourth, popular culture can be folk culture, or authentic people’s culture. Fifth, popular culture is hegemonic culture. In Gramsci’s words, it is a site of struggle between the forces of resistance of subordinate groups in society and the forces of incorporation of dominant groups in society. Sixth, in postmodernist terms there is no difference between popular and high culture. The two categories are convergent. On the whole, the theoretical explanation of popular culture can be based on any of the above mentioned definitions of the term. Different societies put different emphasis on each of
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