Music journalists, music press officers and the consumer music press in the UK

Forde, E. 2001. Music journalists, music press officers and the consumer music press in the UK. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitleMusic journalists, music press officers and the consumer music press in the UK
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsForde, E.

This thesis presents a professional/organisational analysis of popular music journalism in the UK. It considers the conditions under which consumer music magazines are produced (at the level of both the newsroom and the publishing organisation) and how music journalists deal with their main point of informational contact, the press officer. Drawing on original interview and participant observation research, the thesis considers: the economic and bureaucratic forces within magazine publishing organisations; how titles are positioned both individually and collectively as part of portfolio of niched titles; how market forces condition how and why titles are launched, redesigned and folded; and, ultimately, how all these factors impact upon and shape the socio-professional and cultural conditions under which editors and their staff work. The thesis then considers the music press officer (both in-house and independent and their office/departmental hierarchies) in terms of how they exist and operate at the meeting point of three distinct groups: the artists they are employed to represent; the artists' record companies; and the press (and their attempts to reconcile these often divergent needs).

Having considered the music press and music journalists in isolation (in terms of power structures as well as their collective and individual goals) and press officers in isolation (in terms of their position within wider music industry promotional strategies and how they build, develop and revise a roster of artists) the thesis then moves on to analyse how these two distinct professional groups (journalists/editors and press officers) work together, how they professionally and organisationally define their goals and objectives and the steps they take to meet these goals and objectives, negotiating quantitatively and qualitatively the coverage of artists. A complex relationship of conditional power and mutual dependency links these two sets of professionals in both their formal activities and their socio-cultural activities. Breaking from previous studies that have described a uni-directional flow of power and influence of press officers over the press, the thesis argues that the relationships that tie these groups together (in terms of gatekeeping within the hierarchy of the newsroom and a tilting balance of power) are much more complex that has previously been assumed.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
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