Through the decades Rolling Stone magazine has mapped the progression of pop culture- music, film and even politics. Transcending racial and economic boundaries, Rolling Stone has always been famous for its journalistic integrity. But in an era where digital is the new black and online publications are fast becoming the norm, why would Rolling Stone launch a South African version of the publication?

On the 15th of November 2011, the first issue of Rolling Stone, South Africa was released. With an American gangster look, Bra Hugh (Masekela) was the first icon to grace the cover of the new publication. Visionary and full-time music journalist Miles Keylock heads up the endeavor as editor-in-chief. With massive pressure from the public to achieve the international standard of the parent publication, Rolling Stone, South Africa has a large pair of shoes to fill.

Now seven issues in, the publication has stuck to its classic old-school layout, letting the words and poignant photography speak for itself.

Since the dawn of the online era one significant question has arisen.  Why should we bother paying money for a magazine when we can simply find what we want with a few words, a Google search tab and an enter button?

For starters the typical online publication robs fans of the experience of owning a freshly pressed magazine packed with information waiting to be discovered.  Any Tom, Dick or Susan is one click away from being a writer online. Print publications give a sense of professionalism and credibility that cannot be established online. Rolling Stone, South Africa fills its pages with articles, news and reviews written by plausible journalists who hold a name for themselves in the South African media industry. People know that what they are reading is as real as it gets.

Although the magazine has an online sector, the meaty bits remain to be hidden in the pages within the plastic seal of the monthly issue. Music lovers around South Africa will wait in anticipation to discover the latest songs and musicians they should be listening to.  Rolling Stone strives to encapsulate great journalism with substantial opinions, criticism and recommendations that will shape and form the local idea of what’s in and what’s out. This niche publication becomes the all inclusive go-to guide that fans can keep in their homes and refer back to at any time.

Online is instant. You click and scroll, straining your eyes to find the important information- it’s all about immediate gratification. Most articles that you find online you will find yourself skim reading. In truth, no one wants to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and an online article to get stuck into. Rolling Stone and other equally superior print publications provide the reader with an experience.

It is just the same in the way that live music will always supersede its recorded counterpart. Why? It is a far more authentic and all-inclusive sensory experience.  Print magazines are somewhat the live performance of their online rivals. They offer something you can see, feel and smell- the opportunity to own something genuine.

Rolling Stone, South Africa sets the bar for all music and non-music publications alike. It sets itself apart from the rest. It will always attract the real music lover, the person who is drawn to the old-school style that is permeated through the publication. It provides satisfaction to those looking to read words worth their time.  It is what many people really want and will continue to want even through the current digital revolution.

So why South Africa? Why Now? Over the years the South African music industry has slowly started to infiltrate the international scene. With a growing sense of local individuality, great music has begun to emerge from a country that has long been seen as the underdog of the talent world. The rising original and authentic styles and talents deserved a publication to match. The royal family of Zef, DIE ANTWOORD is the pinnacle of both local and international success. GOLD FISH have played there tribute in Europe along with other local artists who have begun to expand their scope to international audiences.  In a way it became necessary to have a substantial compendium of international and local artistic trends.

So the question remains. Will print publications become redundant in the current mass interweb hysteria? How could it be when fans will continue to flock each month to engage in the Rolling Stone authentic experience? Despite the rise of online publications, the desire for dependable journalism and an influencing read will not come to an end.  Rolling Stone South Africa is the proof in the pudding. 

When we don’t know which latest trend suits us best, we always return to the trusty LBD forming the backdrop of our closet. We are indeed creatures of habit. When clicking around on the internet has us confused on who to listen to and what to watch we will always have the classic Rolling Stone, South Africa to turn to. In a recent press conference editor-in-chief Miles Keylock assured us- Print is not dead…and we don’t think it will be any time soon.