Saturday, August 09, 2008

Death and transfiguration of the journalist


Is it surprising that we keep hearing of the death and transfiguation of the music journalist? Take the gushing profile above of Gustavo Dudamel by Guardian chief arts writer Charlotte Higgins which took up half a page in the paper's main news section on Friday.

Where are the insights that could not be gleaned from reading a few press releases? Where are the opinions from anyone other than three hardly objective members of the UK culture club, all of whom have booked Dudamel to conduct? Where is the balance among the fawning endordements? Where is the information that the author of the profile went on a trip to Italy to hear Dudamel conduct that was funded by his record label? Where is the information that the author of the glowing profile was also commissioned by the same record label to write the booklet notes for a recent Dudamel CD release?

Maybe the death of music journalism and its transfiguration into blogging has nothing to do with the often cited dominance of the internet. Maybe it's because bloggers (with a few notable exceptions) don't receive agent's press releases, don't receive free review CDs, don't receive complimentary concert tickets, don't get invited by record labels to write sleeve notes or travel to far-away places and don't have the direct dial numbers of culture club members in their BlackBerrys.

Now read about a great music journalist who wasn't afraid of having an opinion - even if it was sometimes wrong.
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5 comments:

Lisa Hirsch said...

Even some non-notable bloggers, like me, get press releases (mostly from S.F. Bay Area arts organizations, but also from out of town) and free tickets to some events even when I'm not reviewing for a publication other than my blog.

Pliable said...

Lisa, this is an interesting one and is almost worth a separate post.

I get offered an increasing number of free CDs and books but invariably don't take up the offer.

It's not really due to altruism. Experience has taught me that I can only get fired up to write about something I'm passionate about, and I usually don't get offered those kind of CDs or books for free.

I just end up churning out nice neutral prose about the freebies because someone has taken the trouble to send them, invariably from the other side of the Atlantic. Which is boring for everyone.

My views on this one aren't finalised. But I also have a feeling that readers expect a blogger to be writing from personal interest, not because he received a freebie.

Or am I wrong?

Lisa Hirsch said...

That expectation of writing from personal interest sounds right to me.

I've also been offered some books and CDs. I took one of each, quite a while ago; it took me ages to comment on the CD and I haven't read the book in full yet. (Paul Griffiths's one-volume history of music.) So I've declined the last few offers.

Pliable said...

Oh Lisa - I received the Paul Griffiths book as well.

Thought it wonderful but struggled to write anything compelling about it. So wove a few mentions in. I felt bad as it came from the States despite being published by Cambridge University Press just down the road from my home.

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/01/making-case-for-contemporary-music.html

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2007/10/serial-music-exploring-labyrinth.html

Not sure we should continue this thread in case it exposes any more trade secrets ...

Lisa Hirsch said...

Ahaha!

I haven't found Griffiths compelling enough to finish; it's too high level for me. Can see it would be very good for nonspecialists.