More toxic than this focus on quantification has been the way in which digital media has adopted the general tenor of the viral Web - its speed and wayward attention, its unrelenting profligacy, its treatment of every piece of content as another bit of ephemera to consume, without context or much explanation, before moving on to the next one. With rock-bottom advertising rate, journalists must produce immense amounts of content and flog it relentlessly on social media, where hyperbole is standard practice. Quick takes on the day's news are praised as "must-read." The word "breaking" is thrown around indiscriminately, usually all in caps, as if each micro-scoop is revelatory and must be read immediately. "Exclusive" is another widely used bit of inflationary rhetoric; what it usually means is that the reporter re-wrote the press release before any other outlet or that a PR rep turned to him first, expecting favorable coverage.Yes, that describes Slipped Disc very well. But it also describes the music industry with painful accuracy. The BBC - Lebrecht's sometime employer - treats every piece of music as another bit of ephemera to consume before moving on to the next one; with BBC Radio director Helen Boaden declaring that "the creation of snackable access to classical content is the key to audience engagement". Lebrecht has achieved his dubious preeminence with the full support of many prominent musicians. Will they now be principled enough to defend him by declaring that Grigory Sokolov is wrong? Universal Music - another Lebrecht employer via Sinfini Music - has perfected the art of tilting the creative playing field to its own advantage. Will Sinfini run the Sokolov story? Coming to that, will Slipped Disc run the Sokolov story?
Not only is churnalism destroying music journalism, but the zeitgeist of the viral Web is also destroying the integrity of classical music. Lebrecht's debased journalism was not a disaster waiting to happen: it was a disaster that had already happened back in 2007. When will the classical music industry wake up and realise that its obsession with churnalism, gimmicks and sensationalism may well trigger a much bigger disaster?
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