SN’s editorial prerogatives
A disappointing account from David Bruce Murray about how the SN’s changes to his review of the McKameys tests the limits of reform and improvement at the magazine. Take a look at DBM’s post for the full account, but the upshot is, some editorial tinkering pretty much completely changed the meaning of DBM’s review so that it was more flattering of the McKameys.
As Chris Unthank rightly notes, editing a review (or anything else someone writes for the magazine) to improve, streamline, or otherwise sharpen a piece of writing for publication is one thing. But there’s really no excuse for rewriting the conclusion of a music review expressly to change the meaning (and in this case, why? Judging by his original conclusion, DBM was positive if circumspect … is that so unthinkable? I guess so, since the editor went for 100% syrup on rewrite). If you want to publish a favorable review of the McKameys ok. But write it yourself or find someone who will write what you want. Don’t turn editorial oversight into puppeteering and make DBM (or any other writer) your ventroliquist’s dummy.
Obviously I’m not a disinterested observer in all this. I’ve written for SN, and would consider doing so again in the future under the right circumstances (though I’m not so sure I’d be as easygoing as DBM if my copy was similarly rewritten). And I’d choose an imperfect magazine that included voices like mine and DBM’s over an imperfect magazine that didn’t, every time.
Self-censoring to avoid alienating your artist-advertisers is certainly one perfectly logical way to run a magazine. Fine. What’s troubling is that the SN seems to be wanting to have it both ways: get props from the progressive wing of gospel music (yeah I know, all 13 of us) for including a wider variety of voices and perspectives in the magazine AND still keep pleasing the powerful.
But most of all this strikes me as a good example of why southern gospel isn’t taken more seriously beyond its own insular borders: the active refusal of industry professionals to publicly countenance even the most circumspectly candid assessment of their work.