I neglected to notice that the Village Voice turned fifty this week – the first issue was dated Oct. 26, 1955, and I was born soon afterward. My editor Bob Christgau gives a capsule history of music criticism there. True to form, he doesn’t sugarcoat anything:
In 1985 I became a parent and relinquished the editorship to a talented series of successors who know why I’m not name-checking them—they experienced firsthand the space cutbacks that have continued for 20 years (and hey, now pay rates are dipping too!). [I came to the Voice in November 1986. - KG] Many claim our section lost authority around the time I left, and they’re right. This had nothing to do with editing. It was structural. The professionalization and expansion of music coverage, together with the DIY-ization and expansion of music production, topped off by the online DIY-ization of music coverage, have rendered authority, which in any aesthetic matter is provisional at best, an utter chimera, no matter how many 100 best this-es and 50 top thats music media sell ads with….
This is not a great time in alternative rock or alternative journalism—mainstream pop or mainstream journalism either….