Click bait pays but it also stinks
A comment worth republishing has been added by a reader to my recent post 'Classical music must face the facts - click bait pays'. This thread is not about knocking Norman Lebrecht. Because as I said in my earlier post, I grudgingly admire what he has achieved. It is about the wider problem of what is happening to classical journalism. Because if classical music wants to thrive, it needs the support of intelligent, independent journalism free from hidden commercial agendas and political prejudice. And that is precisely what is lacking today.
Back in 2016 I wrote a post titled 'Music blogging #itsover'. Well, if music blogging was over five years ago, it is dead in the water today; despite the spectacular 'success' of Slipped Disc. In that 2016 post I wrote "Music blogs are now just another part of a tacky global marketplace where people have principles, but are prepared to change them if the price is right. There is no place in the blogging community for [a] rich range of independent viewpoints... Classical music desperately needs a wider and more diverse journalistic constituency".
LondonRobert's comment is essential reading for everyone connected with classical music. In it he highlights the acute shortage of intelligent, independent news and information about classical music. Flicking through the writing of Norman Lebrecht and those who hang on his coat tails at the Spectator and uDiscover Music is like rubber necking at a terrible car crash on the other carriageway. The first step to rebuilding quality classical journalism is for the classical industry to stop throwing money where the click bait is, and instead start funding new and fresh writers. Classical music needs a 'New Generation Journalists' programme. As this comment by LondonRobert's explains with forensic precision:
'I would regard myself as a hard core opera goer. So, I'm interested in news about operas and the opera world. Where can I get information about opera which is not just a review of a performance, important as this is to me. I subscribe to Opera magazine but it rarely covers what is happening in the opera world, what is 'now', rather than what has happened in the past or future performances / reviews of past performances.
The blogger Intermezzo used to run an informative and witty opera blog but she has been quiet for years. So, everyday, I usually log onto NL website.
Am I a fan? Absolutely not. I don't agree with his general politics which are often very visible in his postings, I don't want to know about some rape / murder / funny business just because the victim / perpetrator has a classical music connection.
He deliberately provokes his right wing readers through how he reports and what issues he reports on and, as you have noted in the past, has got it so wrong to the extent that he has had to pay damages.
So, I hold my nose and read his website despite my clicks adding to his number and potentially his income'.
The arts need all they help they can get in the post-pandemic period. Surely classical music can do better than this to promote itself?
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