Linked: Rolling Stone seeks ‘thought leaders’ willing to pay $2,000 to write for them

I mean isn’t this really just advertising?

“Publication is not guaranteed and prospective first-person pieces are vetted by Rolling Stone’s partner, The Community Company. Pieces already published as part of the scheme include a set of positive predictions for the future of the cannabis industry by a PR executive who represents a cannabis producer, and a piece praising the social nature of sports betting by the founder of an online sports betting community.”

I think, similar to the Forbes website, these kinds of things shine a light on two things:

1. Traditional media outlets are going into a death spiral online. They don’t make money, because they don’t really provide enough value that people are willing to pay for, and the current advertising model is also becoming less and less effective.
2. The cultural push to be seen as a “thought leader”, is something. I’m not quite sure what, but it’s definitely something. We’ve seen it online since the early days of blogging, and frankly, I’ve always been of the believe that if you have to call yourself one, or pay for the privilege of someone else calling you one, you probably aren’t.

On the other hand, what’s a thought leader, really? Aren’t there literally thousands of people across every industry doing work that brings about change, and better results for the people who pay them to do that work? Why does writing one book, that may or may not actually provide any useful leadership make you any more of a thought leader than the folks who do the work every single day?

Personally, I’ve never been impressed by a lot of legal industry “thought leaders”, who don’t actually have the ability to do the work. So maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about trying to come across as one, and maybe Rolling Stone should worry more about doing work people would pay for, instead of creating more content that is really advertising.


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