Seriously, I'm about to e-mail Romenesko -- the beloved chief of the journalism industry's unofficial police department -- about the Arizona Republic's music section.
When they're not re-writing band biographies or naming DJs who haven't lived in Arizona for eight years to their "Valley's Most Intriguing People" list, they're advancing their own music editor's shows.
Yes, Arizona Republic music editor Ed Masley ran an advance of his own band's show tonight. Masley presumably ordered his subordinate, pop critic Larry Rodgers, to write it, so that's good. However, it's glowing and has no disclaimer or disclosure statement whatsoever.
Breakup Society - Spawned in Pittsburgh and transplanted to Phoenix, this group's clever power-pop has drawn raves from Spin magazine, Alternative Press and All Music Guide.
If you didn't happen to know that The Breakup Society is Ed Masley's band -- and why would you, since no one gives a shit about The Breakup Society -- you'd totally think this story was assigned and edited by someone other than a dude from a band who isn't even headlining but got a write-up while the headliner, Zen Lunatics, did not.
In the interest of full disclosure: One of the Zen Lunatics, Chris Hansen Orf, freelances for New Times. See, boys, that's how the pros do it!
Not being a musician, it's true that I have the luxury of not facing these conundrums. We do have plenty of freelance writers who do play in local bands, though, and while perhaps one or two conflicts have secretly slipped through, we're pretty careful about avoiding that sort of thing. It's what pros do and it's what would happen at the Rep if the leadership wasn't, apparently, braindead.
By the way, in case any non-journalists out there are wondering what the big deal is . . . Think for a second about all the advantages an unscrupulous journalist/wanna-be rockstar could give his own projects. He could, for example, get his band booked at shows it didn't earn simply by promising the promoter coverage. The fact that tonight's headliner did not get a blurb while Breakup Society did is the only reason I'd be concerned about that here. Oh, yes, and the fact that I couldn't find any other recent shows at Hollywood Alley given such a long preview. Appearance of impropriety? You be the judge.
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I have to imagine this outrages some hard-working stiffs in local bands praying for a few lines in the Republic?
Ladies and gentlemen, it's officially amateur hour at America's 18th-largest newspaper. In fact, I couldn't even bring myself to label this "news," so I created a new "Amateur Hour" tag to label all future posts chronicling debacles like this. This is morbidly disgusting to anyone who takes our trade seriously, and it should be rectified with a statement on the paper's editorial page in tomorrow's edition.
I was planning to go to this show tonight, but I can't bring myself to do it now. In Mesa, snitches get stitches. Besides, I'm sure Masley will order one of his writers to pen a much better review about how hard he rocked it.