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Circulation: 1.4 million
Special issues: The annual "Hot List" (Fall or Spring)
Background: More than 40 years ago, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner set out to create the first broad-ranging American publication that gave serious coverage to rock music and its counterculture. While no one imagined the meteoric success that would follow or the archetypal status it would achieve, the magazine found a solid niche in music journalism, which at the time was mostly dominated by apathetic rock writers from small daily papers and low-circulation magazines. It also didn't hurt that Wenner landed early interviews with stars like Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend, and the Beatles. The story goes that John Lennon and Yoko Ono admired the magazine so much that they agreed to pose nude for the now iconic first-anniversary cover in late 1968.
Rolling Stone became an immediate breeding ground for talented writers such as Greil Marcus and Ben Fong-Torres, and years later, the mag expanded beyond its linchpin music coverage to include the "drug-culture phantasmagoria" of gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson, political reporting by William F. Greider, and other investigative feature pieces by notable writers. The magazine is also a critical favorite, picking up several National Magazine Awards for reporting and general excellence over the years.
Rolling Stone has "really returned to its roots, in many ways -- a mix of shorter news pieces and longer, compelling narratives presented in a very visual package," said Eric Bates, former executive editor. "It's remained fairly consistent, with investigative reporting and music always at the center of it all."...