Rolling Stone Is Offering Thought Leaders A Writing Opportunity If They Are Willing To Pay $2,000
Writers used to be get paid for doing their job, writing, but these days forget about it. During these very difficult COVID times, things are entirely upside-down. Not only writers do not get paid anymore but they also may have to pay the magazine to get published!
According to the Guardian, the famous Rolling Stone magazine is offering ‘thought leaders,’ (whatever this means) the opportunity to write for the website if they are willing to pay $2,000 to ‘shape the future of culture.’
The Guardian revealed that Rolling Stone sent emails to possible members of this very special ‘Culture Council’ club in order to give them the chance to join ‘an invitation-only community for innovators, influencers and tastemakers.’ Possible members will have to pay a ‘$1,500 annual fee plus $500 upfront’ in order to ‘have the opportunity to publish original content to the Rolling Stone website.’ Once they do so, they will have the chance ‘to position themselves as thought leaders and share their expertise.’ However, it’s not even a guarantee, as the pieces, that will appear as ‘an invitation-only network of industry professionals who share their insights with our audience,’ will be vetted by Rolling Stone’s partner, the Community Company.
And if you are wondering who can afford to pay $2,000 to get an article published, candidates ‘must sit in a senior-level position at a company generating at least $500K in annual revenue or have obtained at least $1M in total institutional funding’ according to this ‘Apply Today’ page. Obviously not you and me.
According to the Guardian, several pieces have already been published: one discussing the future of Cannabis branding by Rosie Mattio who represents a cannabis producer, and one about the future of sports betting by Dan Healy, the founder of an online sports betting community. But Rolling Stone insists that the invitations are reserved for those in the ‘worlds of music, entertainment, food, beverage, and cannabis.’
A long time ago, Rolling Stone used to be an influential music magazine, also focused on investigative journalism with a social or cultural, or political angle. Then, Penske Media Corporation acquired a large part of the magazine stakes for more than $100 M in 2017, then bought the rest of the company in 2019. Now not only Rolling Stone website has a paywall but rich companies are paying to be able to write on the website. Is this the trend you want to see for magazines? Of course not!
Even though the spokesperson for Penske Media Corporation said that ‘Rolling Stone does not allow paid content to run as editorial in any context whatsoever, and that ‘content created by Culture Council members exists in its own channel separate from editorial content and is clearly labelled as originating from a non-editorial, fee-based member network, which allows industry professionals to share ideas in a paid forum,’ the entire thing looks odd.
These contents are actually giant ads disguised as articles, and ‘thought leaders’ is such a bizarre and pretentious phrasing. I don’t want to read anything written by thought leaders, or people who pretend to be, especially if they want to sell me cannabis. Is it actually another term to avoid the word influencers? And since this touches the ‘world of music,’ what if a big PR company pays Rolling Stone $2000 for publishing a very flattering article about the band it represents? Even if the article is labeled ‘invitation-only network,’ will people even notice? What if U2’s PR does it? Oh wait, it has probably been the case for some time.