Some thoughts, none profound.
The outpouring of support has been kind of overwhelming, certainly flattering and a much needed boost. I thank you all more than I can say. I should get laid off more often. And here I thought everyone hated music critics.
Many commenters want to see my layoff as another nail in the coffin of our culture. While there is some truth to that, I think there is something simpler going on, a structural problem.
There are probably as many, or more, readers of classical music criticism today as there ever was. But previously, music criticism survived as part of a printed newspaper, which was predicated on the “bundle” model, just like 500-channel cable. All the topics in the paper supported the others — from the bridge column to sports, from hard news to the funny pages — and all boats floated higher for it. No topic had to survive on its own. The paper was a community, even a team of rivals.
But as newspapers have moved online, a different model has been adopted. Now, every topic has to survive on its own, because online readers don’t generally read the paper as a bundle. They pick and choose topics, from different publications, all over the internet. Each topic is an island. Think of it as a “streaming” model. What’s more, now newspapers can see exactly how many readers click on a story, and they see that music criticism has a relatively small online readership, though, as said, probably not that different in terms of numbers than it ever had.
The tone of eulogy in many of the comments I’ve read is understandable, but disconcerting and depressing. I’m still here and I have some ideas. Let’s see what happens. Let’s not let the bad guys win.
Lastly, the “blockhead” quote from yesterday was from Samuel Johnson. You can look it up … online.