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What Is Rolling Stone Doing To Journalism?

What Is Rolling Stone Doing To Journalism?

I am angry at Rolling Stone magazine.

Not only is it publishing sloppy stuff, it is making journalists everywhere look bad. The public already thinks my profession is sensationalist, careless, willing to do anything for a scoop and generally unprofessional. Now the readers have additional ammo to reach those sorry conclusions. 

Amateur journalists could have done better than sloppy, careless, reprehensible Rolling Stone did in its coverage of the University of Virginia. we expect much more from this magazine — but maybe we shouldn’t.

In its newest lamentable affair, the magazine, best known for giving aging rock stars’ albums five-star reviews, has had to issue a public apology for an explosive piece about rape on the campus of the University of Virginia.…

What seems so depressing about Rolling Stone’s awful mea culpa is that it didn’t seem to occur to any of its well trained journalists to make the extra phone call and confirm its allegations in this story. The magazine has badly hurt so many people here that it’s difficult to list them all, for far of forgetting someone.

Didn’t it occur to anyone at Rolling Stone (as I have posted on Facebook), that maybe, just maybe, the story needed some degree of — what do you call it? — fact-checking?

This comes after Rolling Stone glammed up one of the young men mixed up in the Boston Marathon bombing in a cover better befitting the chronicles of Jim Morrison than some murderous punk.

What is Rolling Stone really saying here?

Is the magazine so desperate for a viral web presence that it has to publish shoddy journalism? Is it possible that the magazine’s traditional coverage areas of rock and roll and pop culture have become less meaningful than in years past and RS now has to go after pop news, with its own wretched spin, of course?

No matter how you assess Rolling Stone today, the magazine looks like a pitiful helpless giant, to quote the language it used in circa 1970 when it wrote about the state of the U.S.

It’s such a downer, man, for someone like me. I used to revere Rolling Stone, back when I was a teenage rock and roll kid growing up on Long Island. Rolling Stone was my passport to a cool world that I had always imagined peering into (I knew I would never be cool enough to inhabit it, God only knows). 

Rolling Stone had the inside stuff on The Beatles, both as a group and as individuals, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and so many others. Take the 1977 piece about the rise of The Sex Pistols, “Rock Is Sick and Living in London,” by Charles M. Young, for example. It was then and now one of the greatest stories RS ever published. It wasn’t sensationalist. It didn’t have to be, It was so well reported that a reader didn’t have to think twice whether it was accurate or true or not.

I wish Rolling Stone could stick to hagiography of rock stars. This is what it seems to do best. There is no downside, really, to giving a five-star rating to an album. You know what> To do that, you don’t even have to be accurate!

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