Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Princeton Record Exchange's blog gives another slap to the mainstream jazz press with their latest post: "This is the time of year when we look back, take stock of what was, both the highs and lows, and look forward to what the new year brings. Let’s start with the Top 5 Worst Jazz magazine Cover Stories of the Year, shall we?"

This has been an ongoing theme with their posts, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I am sympathetic with the poster's point that mainstream jazz magazines like JazzTimes, Downbeat and Jazziz are running an awful lot of puff pieces and thinly veiled PR stories. I've let my subscriptions to these lapse and just flip through the new issues when I happen to be at a bookstore. In my opinion, these magazines are doing themselves no artistic favors by running these stories, but it has got to be god-awful hard to run a print magazine in these times of Internet saturation and economic peril. I guess by running these types of stories, they have a chance to get some much needed ad revenue and have a chance at staying afloat. But the main problem that I see with the post on the PRE blog, is that the writer offers no alternative. He raises a valid and thoughtful point, but what suggestions does he have for the improvement of these magazines, and why does he continue to subscribe to them? Perhaps print magazines are like a relic of the past, and the three main mainstream jazz magazines are like the big three automakers - without a bailout of some sort they will not survive. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing... I do know that the "magazine" I await most eagerly is Point of Departure, so maybe niche-based Internet zines and blogs are the way to go?

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