Rolling Stone, iconic music magazine, looks for buyer

Rolling Stone last year sold a 49 percent stake to a Singaporean music and technology start-up, BandLab Technologies. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 September 2017
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Rolling Stone, iconic music magazine, looks for buyer

NEW YORK: Rolling Stone, the iconic 50-year-old magazine of music and counterculture, is putting itself up for sale amid an increasingly uncertain outlook, its founder said.
Jann Wenner — who started Rolling Stone in 1967 as a hippie student in Berkeley, California and now runs it with his son Gus — told The New York Times that the future looked tough for a family-run publisher.
“There’s a level of ambition that we can’t achieve alone,” Gus Wenner told the newspaper in an interview published late Sunday.
“So we are being proactive and want to get ahead of the curve,” he said.
One of the most influential magazines covering rock music, Rolling Stone has also been a home for experimental writers such as the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
But the magazine’s reputation — and finances — were badly damaged when it retracted a 2014 story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, with a review finding that Rolling Stone did not undertake basic journalistic procedures to verify the facts.
Rolling Stone last year sold a 49 percent stake to a Singaporean music and technology start-up, BandLab Technologies, which is headed by Kuok Meng Ru, the scion of one of Asia’s richest families.
It was not immediately known if Kuok would want to take a controling stake in Rolling Stone.
The Wenner family earlier this year sold its other two titles — celebrity magazine US Weekly and lifestyle monthly Men’s Journal — to American Media, Inc., a publisher of supermarket tabloids including The National Enquirer.
If American Media, Inc., were interested in Rolling Stone, it would mark a sharp change in owners’ ideologies.
The tabloid empire is led by David Pecker, an ardent ally of President Donald Trump, while Rolling Stone tilts strongly to the left and has featured lengthy interviews with Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Jann Wenner, 71, who is also a key force behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said that he hoped to keep an editorial role at Rolling Stone but that the decision would be up to its new owner.


Egypt targets social media with new law

Updated 17 July 2018
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Egypt targets social media with new law

  • Social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets
  • The media council will supervise the law and take action against violations

CAIRO: Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news.
Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.
The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.
The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by El-Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.
Supporters of El-Sisi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists.
But critics say it will give legal basis to measures the government has been taking to crack down on dissent and extend its control over social media.
Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the vague wording of the law allows authorities to interpret violations and control the media.
“That power of interpretation has been a constant powerful legal and executive tool that was used to justify excessive aggressive and exceptional measures to go after journalists,” he told Reuters.
Hundreds of news sites and blogs have been blocked in recent months and around a dozen people have been arrested this year and charged with publishing false news, many of them journalists or prominent government critics.