Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Merging To A Point

Jeff Chang, one of the most articulate and important writers on the interface between contemporary music and politics, responds to the news that the New Times syndicate is about to absorb the Village Voice syndicate with the right measure of despair and indignation:
That means that competition in the "alternative weekly" sector has been all but eliminated. The New Times is adding magazines like the Los Angeles Weekly, City Pages, and Seattle Weekly to its list, and will command 25% of the market.

It is now the Clear Channel of alt-weeklies.

There is no longer anything "alternative" about the alternative. The long goodbye to an oppositional politics and aesthetics begins now.
I got to experience a preview of the harsh reality Chang describes back when I was writing for Phoenix New Times a few years back. My editors were great, particularly Chris O'Connor. My pay wasn't great, but a lot better than I was making for Punk Planet interviews and reviews that took longer to complete. But the pressure of corporate imperatives eventually made itself felt. With shrinking word counts on one side and shrinking paychecks on the other, the space in between eventually became so claustrophobic that I gave up opportunities that I'd spent years putting myself in position to get. It still makes me sad. What makes me far sadder, though, is the prospect of a world without alternative weeklies that matter.

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