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Grim times: Newspaper sacks all its arts critics

We hear that the Independent on Sunday has given all of its arts critics one month’s notice. From September, the paper will run a digest of other newspaper’s reviews.

Independent? Well it hasn’t been that for a long time, certainly not since it was bought for a shilling by the KGB Lebedev family. But to abandon all arts reviews and replace them with snips from other papers is a travesty of what was once a free press. From September, avoid the Dependent newspaper.

Our sympathies to the excellent music critic, Anna Picard.

We hear also that the TV critic and columnist of the daily Independent, Tom Sutcliffe, has been given his marching orders.


torn newspaper

UPDATE: A response from the Editor here

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  1. Tom Moore says:

    what can be the reason for this? can it be that they have proof that no one reads the arts reporting? If not, what would be the reason for dropping it?

  2. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Nick Davies’ exceptional book Flat Earth News should be compulsory reading for anyone wishing for a little more insight into the murky world of news gathering and distribution. I’m sure you’ve read it, Mr. Lebrecht; what do you think?

  3. Mike Schachter says:

    Disgraceful but unsurprising. In its early days the Independent was very reluctant to have arts criticism at all-so elitist and uncool.

    • But the, about a dozen years ago, The Independent had some of the best critics writing for them.

      I think Anna Picard is my favorite London music critic of all.

  4. Tully Potter says:

    It’s years now since the Independent stopped running Rob Cowan’s record reviews. When I complained, I didn’t hear anything for more than two weeks, when I was told they were ‘repositioning the newspaper for the middle market’ or some such tosh. By the time I got that letter, I had already returned to the Guardian (which used to annoy me with its inept sub-editing, something I have just had to get used to).

  5. O tempora, O Mores! It saddens me to know that the excellent Anna Picard has lost her job but obviously the Independent doesn’t deserve her.

  6. John Colvin says:

    You recently gave us the circulation figures for Gramophone. Do you have the figures for BBC Music Magazine, International Record Review and Opera?
    It would be good to have an idea of how many take their music sufficiently seriously to take a monthly magazine (other than the more specialist publications, e.g. The Strad).

  7. Alexander Hall says:

    The rot set in years ago when all the qualities stopped reviewing RFH concerts as a matter of course and started devoting more column space to anybody under the sun who gyrated their hips and screeched unintelligible lyrics at the masses.

  8. At times like this I’m very grateful that none of my bosses has ever questioned including 12 pages of reviews (8 pages of CDs and 4 of concerts) in The Strad every month. Pound for pound, it’s the most expensive and labour-intensive section of the magazine, and generates virtually no advertising revenue, but for me it’s always been the heart and soul of it. But as John says, we are a specialist publication, and we serve a very passionate and engaged community. I can only imagine the uproar if we pulled the reviews section! Although we have started putting CD reviews on our website for free (sorry – gratuitous plug – delete if inappropriate!).

    (Editor, The Strad)

  9. This is upsetting news, and it’s good that the arts sector is rallying round to express its outrage.

    Would have been great if the arts sector had also voiced its indignation when Metro (a paper with at least ten times the circulation of the IoS) axed 30 full-time regional arts journalists in 2009, but better late than never, I suppose.

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