Rolling Stone’s New Faster Louder Harder Editor Is a White Man

Noah Shachtman comes to the venerable music periodical from the Daily Beast

Noah Shactman in a suit and tie in front of a window.
Brooklynzoo2021, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Media Moves

Daily Beast editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman is jumping ship from his “journalistic scoop factory” to Rolling Stone, the storied music, culture, and politics magazine whose biggest hit in recent memory was a published-then-retracted story about campus rape.

Shachtman was chosen by Gus Wenner, Rolling Stone’s president and COO and the son of co-founder Jann S. Wenner, according to the New York Times, which broke the news of Shachtman’s appointment. He will be succeeding Jason Fine, who in February left the top editor position to become director of content development.

We have high hopes for the partnership between Shachtman and Wenner. For one, they are both white men, according to the Times. Furthermore, they both have deep ties to music, with Shachtman having played bass in various ska, reggae, and dub bands in the past. Third, they both posed for a Times photoshoot that boasts an aesthetic some are describing as “christian country music star fresh out of rehab and ready to share his story.”

Fourth, they both obviously want Rolling Stone to succeed. “It’s got to be faster, louder, harder,” said Shachtman in an uncomfortably sexual vision for the magazine. Wenner concurred with his new employee: “I love that his strength is in an area where we need to get stronger.”

Shachtman might appear to be an unconventional choice for the 54-year-old magazine. He brought a tabloid sensibility to the Tina Brown-founded Daily Beast and emboldened reporters to break news on stories like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz paying to have sex with a minor, Times reporters saying slurs, and whatever happened on Late Night the evening before. Rolling Stone, which was once as known for its rock worship as for its Hunter S. Thompson gonzo classics, has been accused of veering “away from journalism into fandom,” per the Times, and nowadays serves most prominently as a lingering status symbol for stars who land on the magazine’s cover. (Although, it should be noted, Rolling Stone is now reportedly profitable, so maybe there’s something to this editorial strategy.)

In publicizing his departure from the Daily Beast, Shachtman proved once more the master of helping land scoops — only this time for the Times, rather than his own outlet. According to sources familiar with the Beast, there was no newsroom-wide internal announcement before the Times piece was published. Some editors were told the night before; other reporters only learned about Shachtman’s new job minutes before the piece went live, by phone.