THANK YOU, GENERAL: Rolling Stone has a hit on its hands thanks to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Citing initial estimates from New York and Los Angeles (where the issue containing Michael Hastings’ bombshell profile of McChrystal went on sale Wednesday, before hitting national newsstands Friday), a spokesman for the magazine told WWD on Friday afternoon the double issue had already sold “at least five times the number we normally sell on newsstand, and that’s a conservative estimate. It’s easily shaping up to be the best-selling issue of the year.” (According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, last July’s double issue sold 124,676 copies; single-copy sales averaged 104,855 on the newsstand in the second half of 2009.)
The success is surprising for two reasons. First, the full article has been free and open to the public on the magazine’s Web site since Tuesday. Rollingstone.com — which keeps almost all magazine content behind a pay wall — saw a substantial uptick in traffic last week as a result. Between Tuesday morning and Thursday, the site clocked a total of 3 million unique visitors and 13.8 million page views, with the article itself receiving 2 million visitors and 5.9 million views, according to data provided by Rolling Stone. (In late May, rollingstone.com averaged under 120,000 unique visitors a day, according to Quantcast.)
Then there’s the fact the article has had to battle the 24/7 news cycle — by the time the magazine had nationwide distribution, McChrystal was out, Gen. David Petraeus was in and Washington was focusing more on President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev having hamburgers than on Afghanistan. Not to mention the fact that rollingstone.com was scooped on its own article by Politico and time.com which both, without permission, posted the full text on Tuesday before Rolling Stone did. Both swiftly took down the story after Rolling Stone complained. (“It was unauthorized and completely unacceptable,” said the magazine’s spokesman.) Regarding time.com’s misstep — all the more eyebrow-raising given Time Inc. chief executive officer Ann Moore’s well-known and often expressed views on copyright-infringement issues — a Time Inc. spokeswoman told WWD, “Ann believes it was an honest mistake and we don’t believe it will happen in the future.”
— Nick Axelrod
WALKING OUT THE DOOR: W has lost another longtime staffer — and this time she’s leaving at her own choice. Catherine Hong, the magazine’s online director, has quit to become executive editor of InStyle. Before overseeing wmagazine.com, Hong was the magazine’s senior features editor. At InStyle, she will work with the editorial team on issue planning and further developing features and packages. Hong has also held positions at Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar and Us Weekly.
— Amy Wicks
NEW WORLD: Pierre Bergé is a step closer to taking over Le Monde. Journalists’ association SRM on Friday declared itself overwhelmingly favorable to the bid put forward by Bergé, Matthieu Pigasse, the local head of investment bank Lazard, and Xavier Niel, founder of French internet service provider Free, according to a source. They are vying to take control of Le Monde SA, which owns Le Monde, weekly Télérama and other publications, against a rival consortium of France Telecom, Claude Perdriel, whose media holdings include the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, and Spanish media group Prisa, which owns a 15 percent stake in the company. Le Monde’s internal shareholders, which include SRM, are due to make the final decision today.
— Joelle Diderich