Why is the Singing News so bad? (I of II)

Over the past ten years of reading the SN, I’ve come to expect a shiny magazine with one or two, sometimes three, genuinely innovative, informative stories or columns about southern gospel music each month. The rest is mostly uninteresting promotional ads about upcoming concerts passed off as “news” by staff “reporters” (writing for a publication doesn’t necessarily make somebody a reporter). Of course, part of the problem is inherent in trade publications generally, since trade magazines tend to cover the same people and events that generate advertising revenue. Still, the problem is especially pronounced in the SN: among the major (that is to say, full-time) groups and performers, the ones who advertise are often the ones receiving free coverage by the Singing News staff (to the exclusion, mostly, of all other groups or performers who don’t take out ads in the SN). Cronyism probably isn’t the right word for this practice, but to say it and take it back captures the feeling I get from reading and looking at the Singing News – it’s as much a picture book as anything.

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