Yes, it was a ‘tabloid’; and yes, I had been angling to do some music-related writing for it. And, no, I’m not paying any attention to your raised eyebrows. For one thing, I’m more interested in providing that paper’s readers with something worthwhile to read than I am in keeping my authorial soul unspotted. For another, while I acknowledge that there aren’t many daily titles in Britain’s media sewer that are worse than that one, I’d also say that nothing else can credibly claim to be all that much better: certainly from where I sit, all elite-serving industrial journalism looks pretty much the same, whatever size the pages or the vocabulary.
And, in any case, my attempts ultimately came to naught — albeit in the most revealing way. I didn’t stop — nor would you have wished me to! — after ‘Thank you for your interest’; nor did I flag when one supplementary email after another went unacknowledged. And eventually, after more late-afternoon dialling than I care to remember, I got through to someone important who was prepared to speak and listen, at any rate for 40 or 50 seconds…
‘It’s surprisingly hard to get anyone to discuss this’, I said. ‘Is this a case of You can’t write for us now because you’ve never written for us before, or what?’
‘Are you a journalist?’, he asked.
‘Yes’, I lied. (At least, I hope to God it was a lie.) ‘Usually freelance; various arts and science topics down the years; nowadays mostly music. I had a magazine series for six years, too’, I continued. ‘But, look, let me pitch this very quickly, ‘cos I know you’re busy. What I want to do is, really, to ride the “Brexit” wave for a bit — a kind of “Best of British” thing, maybe three or four little pieces altogether, showcasing the great British composers, maybe two at time. You know: the Elgar, Holst, Vaughan…’
‘Let me stop you right there’, he said. ‘Classical music we don’t touch.’
‘Yeah, I know it’s usually a problem because crummy writers make it seem stuffy and irrelevant; but I have a track record in doing it a better way for a general audience. I can actually show you some…’
‘If it’s classical music, we’re not interested’, he said. ‘You’d be better contacting someone at the Telegraph or the Times.’
‘Well, the truth is that I’d rather be speaking to your readership than to people who buy the Times’, I said.
‘Was there anything else…?’, he asked, without really asking.
And, no, there wasn’t — except that, as it happens, there was: it just took a couple of weeks for it to emerge…
More about that in the next fascinating exploration of How Our State-Corporate Media Is Killing Art Music…
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