Robin Green, the ‘Rolling Stone’ journalist who paved the way for women

When in the late 1960s Jann Wenner created ‘Rolling Stone’ there was nothing like it in the United States. Of course there were magazines dedicated to music or titles like ‘Esquire’, which were giving space to the topics and authors that would make up the New Journalism. However, the ‘Rolling Stone’ proposal was innovative due to its success in including musical and political themes and an immediacy that its competitors lacked because, being biweekly, it made it possible to get closer to current events more easily than with monthly magazines.

“Also, in other media you had to be very careful with what you said, maintain objectivity. In ‘Rolling Stone,’ the writers could say whatever they wanted or whatever Jann allowed them to. That, once you became a member part of the magazine, it could be anything. In that sense, ‘Rolling Stone’ gave voice to a ‘baby boomer’ youth culture that included civil rights, protests in Vietnam, civil disobedience, articles about rock bands and the music of! then! What a great moment it was for music! There was a revolutionary spirit and ‘Rolling Stone’ captured it,” he recalls Robin Green, a journalist who, one fine day in 1971, showed up at the newsroom to look for work. By the time she wanted to notice her, she had become the first female editor of ‘Rolling Stone’.

“It was in retrospect that I realized that I was the only girl. In the mid-70s, women were no longer mere office workers and largely ran the editorial department. In that sense I did not notice anything sexist in the attitude from Jann Wenner to me. In fact, I felt that he was glad he let me write for them and even invited me to attend editorial meetings with the men. It was me who didn’t like that permanent competition for attention and power“says Green, who thus denies the racist and sexist accusations that Wenner received a few months ago for allowing only white men in the pages of ‘Rolling Stone’.

Robin Green. Loaned

“I never considered Jann Wenner to be racist or sexist. When all that shit about him came out, I emailed him to tell him that, for what it’s worth, I was against all this cancel culture shit.” He responded by saying that he didn’t like it either and called the people who accused him a mob, insensitive and indifferent friend of lynchings. I think we live in a time in which people jump on the bandwagon without thinking it through, without even look behind the juicy headlines. If you notice, in the ’60s ‘Rolling Stone’ they were the cover Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. It is also true that in the late 60s and early 70s, only ten percent of readers were women, an objective fact that was probably also reflected in the content. When women became more numerous in the newsroom around 1975 or 1976, things changed completely, but, as far as I know, there was never a restriction when it came to hiring female writers.

Journalism stars

Being an editor for ‘Rolling Stone’ in the early 70s was being able to live the dream of any young person of the time. The job entailed obligations such as meeting music stars, traveling with them, enjoying sex and drugs to reflect it in the texts and embodying the magazine’s lifestyle, to the point that, sometimes, the person and the character became blurred.

There was a certain feeling that we were the best. I don’t know if readers wanted to live the life we ​​lived, but I’m convinced that other journalists certainly envied our freedom and possibilities for fun. That sometimes brought some problems, as in the case of Hunter S. Thompson. He had created a personality in his writings and readers expected him to live up to it. So much so, that he once stated in an interview that he did not know what his audience expected of him: whether he himself, a rather kind and even modest person, or that wild, bright and drugged voice of his writings. In my case, I don’t know if people expected any special behavior from me, beyond being intelligent and cool, but it could be.”

Oblivious to the power strategies of the editorial staff and the struggle to obtain the most succulent topics, Robin Green decided to take advantage of that intelligence and genius to develop her own style as an editor. “I didn’t write big stories about music, although I suppose I could have if they had been commissioned. I also didn’t write about politics because it wasn’t my interest. My writing tended toward irony and lent itself more to demystifying than to adoration.. That’s why I wrote about the grandiloquence of Black Sabbathabout the sentimentality of the Bee Gees and about the stupidity of David Cassidy which, without losing that fun touch, was also a report on the teen idol business.”

Needing the support of the specialized press, the still incipient music industry of the 60s and 70s was much less cautious when it came to exposing its artists in the media. In the case of David Cassidy, his public relations team thought that a report in ‘Rolling Stone’ would reactivate his career, without imagining that, in the hands of Robin Green, the teenage idol would appear portrayed with all of his miseries. .

‘The Only Girl’, by Robin Green. Loaned

“Although I had some pangs of conscience, in reality I am not ashamed of what happened with David Cassidy’s article, because there were many people responsible for it. Cassidy wanted to shed his image as a teen pop artist to be considered a real rocker. To do this, they thought the best way to do it was to have a cover in Rolling Stone. However, what else could the magazine have said about him than what I said? After that, his PR was fired and David retired from show business for a while. When he returned as an adult, I had contact with him and his surroundings and he did not hold a grudge against me. I realized that he had much worse demons to deal with like, for example, alcohol.”

Despite being one of the most important contributors to ‘Rolling Stone’ with several cover articles to her credit, Robin Green was suddenly fired by Jann Wenner for not delivering a report on the Kennedy family children on time.

At that time I was already tired of being a kind of hitwoman for the press. Didn’t these kids and their families have enough pain for me to add the pain of telling them what I had found out about them?

“Jann never found out why I didn’t turn in the article about the Kennedys. What actually happened was that I slept with one of them, who was a college freshman. In any case, that was only part of it.” why I didn’t write the article. At that time I already She was tired of being some kind of hitwoman for the press. Didn’t these kids and their families have enough pain for me to add the pain of telling them what I had found out about them? What had they really done to deserve attention, other than being born into that tragic family? Of course, there was also the matter of having slept with one of them. Because I prided myself on truthfully reporting the facts, I wouldn’t have felt right writing a piece that didn’t mention what happened, and because I didn’t think it was a matter that mattered to anyone, neither the readers nor his family, I didn’t write the piece. report,” reveals Green, who does not regret his decision or the fact that, with it, his working relationship with Rolling Stone ended.

“After that I returned to writing for newspapers, magazines and, for a time, I was responsible for a monthly publication before starting to work in television which, unlike journalism which is more intellectual, has an emotional and dramatic side. Despite Of all things, it was not at all easier: When it comes to sexism, there were asshole bosses but none to be part of MeToo; From a work perspective, there were deadlines, pressure, and when I became an executive producer of shows and they needed me on set, I had to put in many, many hours. Come to think of it, television has quite a few similarities to Rolling Stone. They are jobs that end up becoming your life because, as Kesey used to say when he was on the bus with the Merry Pranksters, they are part of a cultural giant that moves at full speed. ”

Patricia Godes, the only girl in Spanish music journalism

Traditionally, those in charge of writing the society notes in the newspapers, the chronicles of parties and concerts, were women who, apparently, could not write about international politics or events. Despite this background, the presence of women in Spanish editorials linked to music has not been very common until recently. This makes Patricia Godes, if not “the only girl”, then certainly one of the pioneers in the music sections of newspapers and specialized magazines of the 80s.

“Machismo is in society and of course I have suffered it in my work. I did not earn less salary than my colleagues, because we all earned rubbish, but I did receive more criticism than my male colleagues. Furthermore, while they have not wanted never kill any of my companions, I have received both sexual proposals and death threats“recalls Godes, who considers that this machismo is not only in the behavior of colleagues and readers but in the very way of writing about music.

“The scale of values ​​of music criticism is very masculine, in a bad sense. It’s like a soccer match: mine against the others; my tribe against the other. In my case, since I know a little more about music, how it is recorded and how almost all the instruments are played except the percussion ones, the interviews with the musicians have always been good. Other colleagues, however, since they do not know about music and do not usually read professional magazines, They make a criticism that is nothing more than a literary excuse to find a language that defines those values ​​that they want to defend and that are very masculine.. For example, everything is more expensive, faster, more exclusive, noisier… An attitude that has meant, for example, that beautiful, sweet, lighter and more melodic music has been despised as slimy.”

Although currently the number of women in editorial staff has increased, in Godes’ opinion, this male bias is still present in music criticism writings. “I am delighted that all these girls are there, who are not so young anymore because they have been writing for twenty years. I like them all very much, they are great, they know a lot about music, they are very funny, but they are people who, I would dare say Although I can’t say for sure, they come from journalism school. If they don’t come from there, they have read a lot of music press, which is still a very masculine environment. In fact, at the beginning I also imitated that false eruditionbut then I found my own language and that made people feel very bad,” explains Godes, who considers that this male hegemony has increased compared to the time in which she started working.

That canon weighs more than when I started and machismo has grown in geometric progression. I have told three of my colleagues ideas and all three of them have made books with them without asking me if I wanted to make them, without telling me that they were going to make them and without remembering that they were my ideas. I also had to remove the music programs I did on the radio from the website, after four or five men released books with the same name, interviewed the same characters, did the same formula or repeated the same interviews… using my scripts! This, I’m very sorry, didn’t happen in the 80s. Not even in the 70s.”

Post Comment