Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Another Example Of What's Wrong ...

Newspapers, magazines ... we're all losing market share and things aren't looking the greatest. Blame the Internet. It's always its fault.

This is the common theme you'll get when talking to most print journalists. And you know what? For the most part, it's true. But it's not entirely the reason. Some places have to look in the mirror and realize they've done a really crappy job.

And, Rolling Stone, I'm talking to you.

Look, everyone knows the magazine gotten a lot worse in the past decade, especially. Really, the past two decades have completely affected the music zine's relevance. And it's because it's become celebrity trash. Why not just read People? It's basically the same thing.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, Rolling Stone first gained a lot of notice because of its in-depth music coverage, and the great music writers who brought that to the fans. Now, they've got a couple on-staff writers who make crappy pop culture jokes in their copy and they've got David Fricke, who's honestly a great writer. But too often they use celebrities to write stuff. And it just makes the magazine look silly.

And here's another example of that

So Ethan Hawke, who I am sure is a smart guy, but is an actor, wrote a little piece on his "friend" Kris Kristofferson, and in it said something about a confrontation between Kristofferson and country star Toby Keith. It makes Keith look awful. Keith says it never happened; Kristofferson doesn't remember the incident. Rolling Stone looks bad.

Look, I am not going to pretend to know Toby Keith. And I don't particularly care for his music. But I have interviewed the man about five times, both on the phone and in person. And I seriously, seriously, doubt this ever happened. If anything, Keith has always gone out of his way to make sure everyone knows he's not a far right-wing conservative. He just wrote a song for the troops, that's what he'll always say. And he doesn't care if you don't like it. But he also voted for Bill Clinton twice.

My point is that Hawke mentions tons of stars in this story by name, but then doesn't name Keith, yet uses plenty of description, enough so that anyone with half a brain knows who he is talking about. That's horrible journalism. The editors at Rolling Stone should be ashamed of themselves for letting it happen. It's pathetic.

But, most importantly, it again diminishes the magazine's credibility. Why have Hawke write the story in the first place? Why break some of the fundamental rules of journalism? Why not read that story and say, "You know, that doesn't sound like something Toby Keith would do"? Why not a lot of things?

So when Rolling Stone complains about diminished circulation and ad revenue and shrinks the size of itself again, the magazine should look in the mirror. And that starts at the top because Jann Wenner, who only still writes so he can give five-star reviews to his friends, is one of the biggest offenders, and he's the dude who let's it all happen.

1 comment:

sj said...

v well written post.

and i agree. i don't get the celebrity crazed masses, i confess, and would rather spend my precious print time with a well written story than a celebrity roster.

but maybe that's just me.