Southern gospel and old new-media
I must say, it’s gratifying – in a bittersweet kinda way – to see people finally starting to say some of the same things about the sad state of mainstream media in southern gospel that I’ve been saying for years now (in fact, one of the many ancillary but not unimportant reasons I started this site was from a prolonged, low-grade fit of pique over the crummy coverage of southern gospel available to average readers … my point, mind you, wasn’t necessarily to fill that gap, just to complain about it, so there … I’ve saved you the trouble of calling me a hypocrite).
Perhaps needless to say, I couldn’t agree more with the comments about the SN’s deplorable web presence. The SN itself seems caught between two competing attitudes toward their new media operation: ignore it and hide it behind a subscription wall. For my part, though I still long for a real news site that does more than copy and paste press releases and cheerlead for the industry, my thinking has shifted, or evolved, with time to realize – even if I haven’t fully accepted it, if acceptance means being ok with it – that we’ve got exactly the kind of coverage of, and commentary about, sg that the market – that is, the southern gospel industry and audiences – wants and is willing to support. I was reminded of this when Salem, SN’s parent company, recently shut down the print edition of CCM Magazine. CCM fans don’t really care about print publications; they want a developed new media presence. Southern gospel fans, on the other hand, don’t really care about well-developed new media operations; they want a robust print edition that tells them reliably good news about their favorite artists, with lots of glossy pictures and comforting conclusions about the rewards of clean living and godly music focused on Christ and the cross in I-IV-ii-V7-I.I think we webheads tend to forget that we’re a statistically insignificant subgroup barely worth the status of “demographic segment.” I say “barely” only because there are a few signs that the industry is moving ever-so-slowly into the digital age. The SN is now publishing full editions online in addition to its web-only features. It needs work, but it’s a start. And Crossroads Music is starting to roll out some new web products, including most recently an e-store for soundtracks.
There are probably other things I’m forgetting, but I get the feeling these are more “build it and hope some day they will come” efforts than responses to pent up aching rivers of demand. Whatever the origins of these efforts, though, experience teaches us that most of these new media ventures will largely re-create the old ways of the industry’s business and publicity cultures – including the “praise report and prayer request” style of sg “journalism” – in new media formats.Email this Post