The desire to collect and document is an inherently human venture, with an established consensus that “All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard to anyone’s feelings.” (Diderot, D.). It is this point that is at the core of journalism, and a point that sparks debate as to what is worth documenting in the first place. Traditional journalism, that is mainly the news press, is considered the valid and serious journalism and therefore the better to form your opinions around. Music journalism on the other hand, being specifically interested in the aspects of our lives used for entertainment and leisure, is considered a soft journalistic alternative, with its contributors being told to get a “proper job” (Myers, B.).
The idea that music journalism is easier than other forms is, to put it bluntly, complete bullshit. Films such as Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas create the illusion that music journalists live the sex, drugs rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle with some scrawlings on the side. Perhaps this held some truth in the time of Lester Bangs and Hunter S. Thompson, but nowadays the number of music journalist hopefuls vastly outweights the number of permanent positions in existence. With no job security, there are unimaginable amounts of stress on young writers to get enough work and hype to begin a career.
Whilst it is no easier amongst traditional journalists, the increasing amount of “churnalism” (Wahl-Jorgensen, K. and Hanitzsch, T., 2009) and dependency on news outlets such as Reuters gives news journalists the ability to collect their work all from the comfort of their swivelly office chairs. Music journalism takes much more effort than this; you have to actually go to the gig to properly review it, you often have to spend hours in bland hotel rooms waiting to interview disengaged musicians, and after all that, you have to somehow quantify the emotions of the gig and the mumbled words of the artist into word-restricted articles that have enough creative flair to be read all the way through, “music journalism is something you have to immerse yourself completely in. It becomes your life – and while at times it may seem like a long, arduous route to take” (Green, L. 2011). The ability to write is essential for both music journalists and traditional journalists, but the distinguishing feature of music journalism is the need to evoke as much enthusiasm as the musicians do on their albums.
The salvation of employment resides in the newly inclusive nature of publications, with many newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Independent (The Independent, 2013) having their own music sections, not restricting music journalists to the ever-dwindling specialist magazines, and blurring the unnecessarily made boundaries between traditional and music journalism.
- Denis Diderot, 18th-century French philosopher and critic
- Myers, B. (2009) A Day In The Life Of A Music Journalist. Drowned In Sound, [online] 17th July. Available at: http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4137401 [Accessed: 26th April 2013].
- Wahl-Jorgensen, K. and Hanitzsch, T. (2009) The Handbook of journalism studies. New York: Routledge.
- The Independent (2013) The Independent | Music | Latest News & Music Reviews. [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/ [Accessed: 25th April 2013].
- Green, L. (2011) Starting out in music journalism: from work placements to popstar interviews. The Guardian, [online] 29th Nov. Available at: http://careers.guardian.co.uk/music-journalism-work-experience-placements [Accessed: 25th April 2013].