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Merging To A Point - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
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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From: vodkashuffle Date: October 24th, 2005 10:30 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I read this same story this morning, and I had heard rumblings of it last week as well and yeah...it's certainly disturbing. I have also heard that Clear Channel wants to start their own weekly papers, who knows if that will happen. Gannett has already launched quite a few new alt weekly papers around the country, so they are trying to get into the mix. Its like "Alt Weekly" is just a buzz word, like "indie rock." The alt weekly that I write for in Philadelphia, City Paper, is luckily not wrapped up in this. But I'm sure New Times will start gobbling up more in time.

Also, interesting, today of all days, I learned that Big Top Distribution, who distributes Punk Planet and Maximum Rock 'N' Roll is having some money troubles, which certainly clouds the future of those mags and the hundreds of others they distribute. Sad day.

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 25th, 2005 02:11 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, Clear Channel would be dreadful and Gannett almost as bad. The problem with New Times, despite the animus against them, was mostly their corporate model and its implementers on the "money side," not the content folks. Still, consolidation of this sort can only be a bad thing for writers, since stories get passed from one paper to another in the network, which means way fewer opportunities for people who need to make money.

The Big Top news is worse. I just had confirmation of it from two people working with the distributor. Bleak. I hope to find some hope today, because yesterday was pretty awful. Did that story you were working on about places like Gilman ever come out?

From: vodkashuffle Date: October 25th, 2005 08:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes, the article on DIY venues came out through Wonkavision Magazine (a Philadelphia zine). It was actually a far more interesting story, but the deadly word-count really hurt the piece in my opinion.

In other news, today Infinity radio announced their plans on how they are replacing Howard Stern. The initiative; All talk radio!

Read this: http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=137561

In essence, in their biggest markets, Infinity radio is shifting from primarily rock programming to primarily talk programming. Music will be for late night and overnight blocks. Truly shameful. And I thought Clear Channel had lost their marbles. I guess they (Infinity) just want to compete with the simulcasted programming of Satellite radio, but this is truly troublesome if you love music at all.
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cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 25th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah, the Seattle Weekly has been uninspired for well over a decade. I don't like everything in The Stranger, but it's infinitely superior, as is the Bay Guardian.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: October 25th, 2005 12:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You can still read the Alternative Press. They've been hanging on in Cleveland for 20 years now.

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 25th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks for this. Even though it's New Times, I was delighted to end up in the Cleveland Scene a few times, given its connection with the history of punk. But Alternative Press sounds cooler.
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