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July 17, 2005

One Voice Per Beat

Norman Lebrecht has it exactly right (and there's a sentence I didn't think I'd ever write): The character of music criticism both here and abroad is fundamentally shaped by the profusion of press outlets, or lack of same. Writing for the one newspaper in town (or let's say the one large-circulation daily), as I and most of my American colleagues do, has a determining influence on how and what I write. It means that I have to be aware of the effects of what I write while remaining scrupulously honest. It means that my personal opinions will taken by the more credulous as The Truth, and that some readers (out of silliness or malice) will even imagine that I intend them to be. It means, as Doug says, that the possibilities for real dialogue are kinda limited.

I wish to God it were otherwise. There's a line somewhere by the midcentury press critic Robert Benchley about being horrified, on opening his front door, to find on the doorstep a quart of milk and no fewer than eight daily newspapers; the milk, of course, had been delivered by mistake. That's my idea of Eden, and I get an envious glimpse of it, or at least a scaled-down version, when I'm in Europe. But in this country, the days of "His Girl Friday" are never coming back, and there's nothing we can do to change that. So we play the cards we're dealt.

Posted by jkosman at July 17, 2005 07:02 PM


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