[Hype Hype Hooray] The War of the Critics: “May the best bloggers win”

Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.

Right now we’re all fighting for our lives. Music bloggers, like sperm, a million strong, pushing and shoving our way to the top, showing off our knowledge and snarky witticisms. The internet powers us all to the forefront of the music criticism game, as writers at legitimate publications are pushed back to our level. As the line is drawn and all of us fall and rise to the battleground, those spectators and warriors all charge on with the same question in mind: can we, the bloggers, really be equals with the seasoned pros?

To get the tough answers I talked to professional music critic Greg Kot, a writer with the Chicago Tribune for the last 21 years. Contrary to my metaphor, Kot said we’re already on the same level. “I don’t feel threatened by digital publications, I feel like we’re part of the same realm,” he said. An honest assessment or a clever trick? Kot went on: “There’s as much legitimacy in the digital world of music criticism as there is in the print world. There are more voices out there than ever and I think it’s a really healthy thing.”

Kot seemed to be waving a white flag on the part of print critics. Or could it be that there was never a reason for a white flag in the first place? Is this war really a harmless play date? Is there no difference between the startup blogger and the magazine pro? Kot clarified by differentiating not between online and print writers, but rather between experienced and inexperienced writers. “It’s not fair to compare somebody who just began a blog and has been doing it for two months to somebody who’s been doing it for 21 years,” said Kot. “You just don’t turn into a good writer overnight.” OUCH. Touche, sir.

So let’s go back to the metaphors. The bloggers are riding the wave of the internet just as the print writers are falling to meet them. The difference is that all the experienced writers on either side have much bigger swords, and once both sides meet in the middle, it will be a free-for-all to see who limps back to the top. So when does this war begin? Well Kot seems to think that within the next 10 years, the great writers from the blog world will begin to emerge. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I’m not sure what will.

The important thing to realize is that in this day and age there’s not much separating us, the starry-eyed bloggers, from them, the experienced writers we have looked up to our whole lives. By the end of this decade, there will be a new elite and they will come from both media. Kot seemed ready for battle. “At the end of the day, the people who write the best and create the best content are the ones who are going to be read and those are the ones that are going to be left standing,” he said. “May the best bloggers win.”

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