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July 22, 2005

we're all right

I agree with much of what has been written this past week. Allan is right to say that it’s a matter of personal choice whether to focus on performance criticism, as he does, or use a broader brush, as I do. Hugh is right to say that too much is expected of critics, both by the music profession which wants more paying customers and by editors who want more readers. Andrew Druckenbrod is right to point out that critics outside the major metropolitan centres are often closer to the heart of their papers, and their readers. Larry Johnson makes a telling point about deadlines.

But I don’t see much thinking outside the box. There is hardly a critic on earth who does not face pressure on space and demands to popularise. There is hardly a paper that has not reduced its critical strength and space and cut freelance fees. When I came into the game, a London oldtimer told that when he started the mid-market Daily Express employed five music critics, three of them on staff. These days, the mid-market has no music criticism and the top end hardly any staffers. The activity is in danger of becoming peripheral to newspapers, themselves an endangered species.

Against this backdrop, music criticism has hardly changed. That, it seems to me, is what we ought to be contemplating if we are to preserve and develop vibrant and diverse musical debate within mainstream media.

Posted by nlebrecht at July 22, 2005 03:32 AM


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