The future – and current state – of music journalism

Social media has changed the pitch of the genre, and will continue to do so

Alexa Shughart

By Alexa Shughart

Knightly News  Reporter

The future of music journalism is … digital?

Okay, right: We knew this.

With technology continuing to advance and apps being created daily, it’s no secret that the greatest amount of information we receive is usually from the Internet.

What many people do not realize is the impact this has had on many fields, one being music journalism.

A changing genre

An undeniable shift in music journalism has been underway for a while, and many argue whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

To break down what exactly music journalism is, it can simply be defined as media criticism and the reporting of music topics, most important, the music of pop culture. Pop culture is a trendy topic, especially in the Digital Age.

As the Digital Age grows rapidly, journalists are faced with issues the average individual would not consider.

With the rise of social media apps, for instance, many users have taken to the Internet to express their opinion on artists, songs, albums and much more.

Everyone’s a critic

The term “everyone is a critic” comes into play here.

It is immensely easy to log onto your Twitter account and review the latest Anderson .Paak album, but this creates a barrier between professional journalists and the average user writing a personal review.

The author at work, looking at a story she coauthored, on The Knightly News. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

Journalists who go to college have sat through many classes, such as about media law, and learning how to write professionally and responsibly, while working to become true ethical journalists.

For an average user to log on and review an album while ignorant of those topics is a slap in the face of trained journalists.

Most of the time, individuals are logging onto their favorite platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok), and reviewing artists or albums.

This has made it easy for the average user because all these platforms are free to use, easy to use and most of the content is allowed to be uploaded. Not only that, but if users gain enough followers, they can eventually start making money from their reviews.

Many argue that this is a positive movement for music journalism, and honestly, I cannot fully disagree.

New can certainly be good

I believe the coverage that comes from social media apps will be relevant and offer aspects that old music journalism lacked.

One aspect of traditional music journalism is that it has always focused on specific coverage, mostly of what a musician is doing, new album releases, upcoming tours and similar events and activities. However, one thing I have noticed is that traditional music journalism tends not to write and inform audiences very efficiently about new artists and new music

Through social media apps, a lot more users have explored various artists and new genres that they may have not listened to before. Not only do they expand public knowledge of these artists, but they also give new and upcoming artists a platform to display their work.

As innovative as this may seem for the future of music journalism, it is important to remember that this draws a line between what information about music is reliable and what is not.

When any user of social media platforms can post and spread word about music, we begin to see lack of authenticity and credibility when anyone can claim to be a music journalist, and writes badly crafted, uninformed and, often, inaccurate and unfair reviews and other types of articles about music and musicians.

While there are positives and negatives to this new aspect of music journalism – some people who are not trained journalists or musicians write fine, ethical and informative reviews and report truthful and accurate music-industry news — I do not necessarily agree that any individual can produce the work of a high-quality, trained and experienced music journalist.

Be open, and responsible

With times continuing to change, you must be open to adaptation, but people who want to write about music and musicians should educate themselves about music and the artists who produce it – and should learn about journalistic process and integrity.

I believe these social media apps and the Digital Era will be a large part of the future of music journalism, and who are we to stop that?

Music journalists should continue seeking knowledge and skills to best present music news to the public.

It’s the right thing to do.

Alexa Shughart is a music journalist in training. She is secretary of The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College, one of our photographers and our music writer.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.