Jann Wenner, founder and publisher of Rolling Stone, has rebuffed a resignation letter from Deputy Managing Editor Sean Woods over a misreported gang rape at the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone was accused of being overeager to report on the rape culture on campuses, and too prone to blame fraternities, while there were massive inconsistencies in the story. First of all, the alleged ringleader was not even the member of the same fraternity the accuser said he was, and there apparently was not even a party that night.
The New York Observer covered the story. Wenner denied that either Woods or Will Dana, the managing editor, offered to resign, but an insider confirmed that Woods submitted a resignation letter that was rejected by Wenner.
Sean Woods handles the non-music features at the magazine, as well as holding down another job at Men’s Journal. There is talk in the industry that the blame lay in the fact that he was spread too thin.
Rolling Stone said that it will implement a “pre-reporting” strategy to prevent such kneejerk journalism in future. What is surprising is that the fact-checker of Stone, Coco McPherson, has been described as a “stickler, erring on the side of caution.”
Apparently, the article has not changed Wenner’s view that to find great talent is not easy, and given the fact that Woods has been working successfully at the publication so long without problems in the past is a good enough reason to keep him. On the claims that Wenner is just reluctant to fire people, “Jann, at this point, has fired more people than most people will hire” and is still convinced that Will Dana is “the best editor in New York.”
Jann Wenner was born into a secular Jewish family in New York City. He dropped out of Berkeley to start the Free Speech Movement, and eventually started the iconic Rolling Stone.