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 Everett True

True on Morley

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Paul Morley - Morley On Media

Taken from paid Content: UK. The rest of the article is equally as interesting.

The people who really write The Guardian newspaper now are not the person whose name is at the top but the dozens below. The mission of The Guardian newspaper now is mutualisation, to accept that these people are more important than them. The Guardian are now merely the hosts at some grotesque dinner party waiting for these guys to come in and flail them.

They’ve fallen for the wrong thing. They’re not trying to generate a new way of doing things in the 21st Century. They’re falling for the gimmicky side.

I’m intrigued by this. I’m beginning to think that it’s impossible to function as a critic in web 2.0 environments without acknowledging that the basic nature of criticism has changed from a monologue to a dialogue. (This ties in with the whole academic way of thinking around music criticism during the 90s, that it’s a performance between writer and audience – see Atton, Brennan, Forde et al). At Collapse Board, I am aware that since the transition from print to online the playing fields have been levelled and there is often little – or no – distinction between the ‘critic’ and their readership. Not least because the Internet has allowed for the ‘critic’ to become anyone, however disinterested.

On several occasions I’ve attempted to shape the dialogue at Collapse Board by making the critic and reader interchangeable (e.g. here, and here). I try to encourage interaction, and for folk to accept that one person’s opinion is no more … not important, because that’s disingenuous … True than the next, unless they choose to make it thus. Of course, we rarely play to the crowd at Collapse Board whereas it seems that, 95 per cent of the time, The Guardian does. Maybe that’s as it should be: being a commercial newspaper, The Guardian‘s contributors’ and editors’ motivations are different from those at Collapse Board.

But yes, I agree. The commentary around the article is frequently more consequential than the article itself.

Is this good? I like this democratisation of opinion, but does that mean that the less thought that goes into an article the better? (All the better to generate ‘controversy’.) Also, it’s way more interesting to read an individual than a consensus.

I suspect it’s no coincidence that I was alerted to the above article by Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound’s Twitter feed. Drowned In Sound began life by publishing unedited, reader-generated, content, and it’s still very much driven by its vocal readership, alongside some equally opinionated editorial.

Paul Morley is an old school print journalist – first coming to prominence on the NME in the late 70s – and he can clearly be viewed as an expert in his field. As such, he exists in a rarified bubble. He was not trained to be a performing seal. But folk such as myself and Sean Adams, while drawing on elements of the ‘old’ music criticism, exist within an environment where it’s all about the interaction. Sean is successful at what he does, so is Paul Morley. I’m being torn to shreds, mostly.

In equal degrees, people loved and hated what I did at Melody Maker, and Careless Talk Costs Lives, and Plan B Magazine. We still have magnificent writers here at Collapse Board and yet mostly people seem to hate us. The quality of writing and the approach to writing hasn’t changed between these three publications, not particularly. So should the conclusion be reached that attitudes to music writing have changed, or that simply people have been taught to expect less from their music reviews and more from the commentary around the music reviews? Or…? I have no idea, really. I’m just a failed former music critic.

Perhaps the final quote from the linked article above sums it up:

If you try and complain about the times you live in, then your time is up. It may be that my time is up.

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