Most are familiar with the term “everyone’s a critic.” It is often used to dismiss an unsolicited or amateur opinion. You say, “I think the new Radiohead album is crap.” I say, “Everyone is a critic.”
But, more than being a sarcastic proverb, this saying is evolving into a truism. Blogs, such as this one, sprout up daily with writers publishing thoughts to be read by others. The trend is toward individual expression of taste.
In the service of providing the opinionated with a forum, the Guardian and Observer have uploaded three million albums onto their website where anyone can write a review. And, for those inclined to pass judgment but lack the interest to commit time and words for a review, there is also the option to give a star rating or create a pre-set list such as “Best albums of all time.”
Alexis Petridis, the Guardian’s head rock and pop critic and the music editor of GQ magazine, approves of this plan. He states, “frankly, the more people discussing and evaluating, the better.” He even gives advice for the perspective reviewer, suggesting “the more you research an album or the artist who made it, the better” and the one rule for a rock critic is they should “[make] you want to hear the records he writes about, whether good or bad.”
While I do not disagree with Petridis’s advice or his assessment that more ideas equal better discussion (that is, in fact, the point of this blog), I am slightly turned off by the Guardian and Observer’s decision to be a repository for public opinion. In theory, it is nice to have a place where anyone can express their thoughts and those thoughts are collected together. In the same way I am curious about my friends’ reactions to movies and music, I want to know what any and all think in matters of art and culture. But, a credible news source is not the place for a completely open market place of ideas.
I visit and return to news sources such as the Guardian and the New York Times becuase I want to read high quality journalism. Both those publications create strong content and their name reflects a tradition of excellence. If they become involved in the business of content farming and generating clicks (see: Huffington Post) rather than having journalists go through the gauntlet, it changes the value and function of those brands. There is rotten tomatoes for the world of movie opinion. There is metacritic for the world of music opinion. It seems overwrought to bring the Guardian and Observer into this realm.
But, maybe I’m naive. Maybe everyone is truly a critic and, as such, everyone is equally entitled to the pages of news publications. Just don’t expect me to read it.