The future of rock journalism

Here’s a piece I’ve done recently for a competition for the Louder Than Words Festival upcoming in Manchester. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!

The future of rock journalism

Frank Zappa successfully offended an entire industry in 1977 during an interview with Bruce Kirkland for the Toronto Star newspaper. He said, “Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read”. It takes a lot of talent to hurt that many people’s feelings in one sentence. To write off rock journalism that broadly though is incredibly shortsighted, even for a man of Zappa’s stature.

The advent of rock journalism really came about in the mid-60’s following the breakthrough of the Beatles. With the lines blurred between rock music and popular culture, it was paramount that news publications carried reviews, interviews and stories relating to rock music to keep them in the public eye.

It became important for musicians as well, used as a vehicle to get messages out there, to expose another previously unseen side of your persona. Who can forget John Lennon’s now infamous final interview with Rolling Stone magazine, three days before he was murdered, in which he spoke passionately, saying, “What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I’m not interested in being a dead hero…so forget ‘em, forget ‘em.”

Nowadays, and looking towards the future of rock journalism, it’s hard to envision a time in which we’ll still not salivate over the prospect of “the big interview” with this week’s rock icon. Whilst the methods of consuming the discussion may change, we will all still hang off of every word that leaps off the page.

With the advent of the Internet, everyone now has the ability to be a rock journalist, and can promote or offer an analysis of a local gig or band to the web in seconds. Rock journalism isn’t devolving; it’s evolving into a wider, larger, living, breathing creature. More people are getting involved, and that can only be a good thing. As long as there’s rock music, there will be rock journalism telling you what you have to be listening to right now.

Not bad for a bunch of people who can’t write, eh, Frank?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The future of rock journalism

  1. Hi Ryan

    I just wanted to congratulate you on a very perceptive and entertaining piece of writing. You captured it all in the line ‘rock journalism isn’t devolving; it’s evolving’. You mirror my thoughts exactly.

    I have been a music journalist for approaching 20 years and remain fascinated by the way the craft shape-shifts. As does ones own career. I am now a music journalism lecturer at Chester University, and also involved with Louder Than Words.

    So I would also like to congratulate you on winning he inaugural Wilko Johnson Writing Award and look forward to meeting you over the weekend.

    All the best, and keep scribbling…

    Simon Morrison

    • ryancarse

      Apologies for the delayed response Simon, but thank you very much for the kind words, they’re much appreciated and I’m really looking forward to this weekend!

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