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Title: Transforming music criticism? : an examination of the changes in music journalism in the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 1991
Author: Skellington, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 5841
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2010
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To date, very little academic attention has been awarded specifically to English broadsheet music writing and of the few texts which do touch upon this area many have relied upon the anecdotal accounts of only a handful of authors. As such, this research was undertaken to provide new insights into this relatively untouched area, concentrating particularly upon the period 1981 to 1991 during which, it was anticipated, a number of fundamental changes might be observed. The research triangulates fmdings from three sources; firstly, quantitative analysis is drawn from a large database constructed for the purposes of this study, which details the music-related content of 744 sample broadsheet publications, to reveal a series of shifts in the nature of broadsheet music coverage during the period under review. A detailed qualitative analysis of38 sample broadsheet music reviews then highlights differences in the critical styles adopted by broadsheet music writers across and within the spectrum of music genres and time period examined. Secondly, insights into the nature of change within broadsheet music coverage between 1981 and 1991 are presented from the perspectives of thirteen broadsheet music writers themselves, resulting from interviews conducted specifically for this research. Finally, the research findings are placed within a suggested literary and conceptual framework through reference to a range of secondary sources. In considering the motives for change, particular attention is devoted to the Thatcher government, whose free market policies fuelled an increase in music marketing and whose reduction of trade union powers resulted in the Wapping Dispute of 1986 and the subsequent upheaval of broadsheet production practices. Consideration is also given to both the impact of emergent and discontinued contemporary publications, with particular attention awarded to The Independent newspaper, and to shifting editorial attitudes - the latter of which, it is suggested here, led to a destabilisation of the traditional genre hierarchy. The thesis also examines the employment conditions of broadsheet music journalists during the period under review in order to understand how their recruitment, training, reward and working relationships may have affected their critical output. Finally, a brief examination of a sample of broadsheets from 2009 suggests that the editorial mindset inherited from the latter 1980s has possibly deepened, if not become entrenched, in twenty first century broadsheet production practices. The thesis, by virtue of the original evidence gathered here, argues that a significant dynamic of change within broadsheet music coverage was indeed in place during the period 1981 to 1991 and that, given its possible implications for music audiences, further scholarly examination of this subject is imperative.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available