Pandering to Base Emotion | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Pandering to Base Emotion


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Dear music editor,

I rely on music sources such as the Reader for information about what shows I might like to attend, recordings I might like to purchase, or artists I might like to investigate further. Unfortunately, your music section is lacking in editorial quality. Without adding much more to the word count of my letter, I won't recite specific examples from recent reviews, but the ongoing juvenility I've suffered through from your reviewer Liz Anderson is fully illustrated in this week's reviews of Megadeth and Gil Mantera's Party Dream [Section 3, November 19]. Beyond these two reviews, use of profanity, references to self drunkenness and other ugly behavior is used as a crutch by inferior writers and is a common thread throughout Anderson's "work." Strong writers have the vocabulary breadth to make their point without pandering to base emotion. I hear garbage language every day on the street. I don't need to read it as part of a review in a respectable alternative news weekly. To use Liz's own words, she "just fills space with whatever asinine syllables come out of (her) mouth."

Now read Peter Margasak's reviews, in contrast. He provides historical background information about artists and their previous recordings, draws relationships to other artists in the genre, and provides opinion about the recording he's reviewing. I may certainly not agree with all of these opinions, but he is knowledgeable and informative to a degree that I can use that information and make my own discoveries and decisions. This week's review of Rosanne Cash is a fine example of providing information I can use. Untalented writers such as Liz Armstrong tend to be crude and overly opinionated to mask their inarticulacy and lack of subject-matter expertise. She appears to be more interested in her own self-aggrandizement and self-perceived hipness than to provide readers with content they can digest and utilize.

So that I can truly understand your strategy in employing or contracting her, please tell me that either:

(1) Liz Anderson is 15 years old.

(2) Your compensation is so low that music journalism is not a viable adult career option anymore and hence you've lowered your qualifications to a high school diploma or worse.

(3) This is just a bad joke and you really do not intend to insult your readership this much.

To close, I'm finding myself paging through Section 3 a lot more quickly these days, not because of your redesign, but because of the lack of quality content. Please replace Liz Anderson by a reviewer with better writing skills and more maturity and breadth of knowledge, or I just may not be reading Section 3 that much longer altogether.

Patrick Skvoretz

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