Jed Gottlieb Is Last Pop Music Critic at a Boston Daily

March 1, 2019

When I first arrived in Boston in the fall of 1974 (“Hey, people, what’s with the forced busing? Are you meshugge?”), you couldn’t spit without hitting a music magazine. Pop Top, Rock Around the World, Night Life, Musicians Guide, Nightfall – they were all over town.

And there were so many music critics, even I was one, writing for all of the above under severel variations of my name.

Representative samples:



If you didn’t pay close attention at the time, you almost wouldn’t notice I knew virtually nothing about music.

Now comes the Boston Herald’s Jed Gottlieb – the last pop music critic at a major Boston newspaper – to survey the wreckage of local music coverage in a piece for Fast Company headlined “The web is killing newspaper arts critics like me. Why that matters.”

This is nuts graf:

The vast majority of daily papers cover a fraction of the concerts, albums, films, TV shows, theater productions, and gallery and museum exhibits than they did 10 years ago. A quick look at the rolls of professional organizations–the American Theatre Critics Association, the Jazz Journalists Association, the National Society of Film Critics–shows less than 10% of members holding full-time jobs at papers, down from approximately 50%, depending on the organization, around 2000.


Gottlieb says the internet – which has played a major role in the decline of newspapers over all – is no substitute for what it has muscled out. “Online arts outlets, from full-fledged magazines to blogs run by a single person . . . produce vital, smart, passionate work, but they can’t replace the loss of arts coverage at papers.”

Or the beneficial side effects of newspaper arts coverage.

Arts writers provide a historical record of their beat like any other reporter. When holes start appearing in that historical record (or when it is abandoned completely), arts organizations can suffer. Newspaper coverage serves as promotion for community theater companies, small galleries, unknown rock bands, and others without PR or advertising budgets. Both authors and musicians have told me print reviews spark interest from publishers and record labels, even when sales lag.


In the end, Gottlieb says, what is lost goes beyond the “stumble-upon effect” of newspapers, in which readers encounter arts coverage on their way to, say, the sports pages. It’s also this: “Every piece of good arts writing dips, if ever so slightly, into the human experience, into what it means to be alive. No piece of fantasy football draft advice or gossip item about [Miley] Cyrus’s marriage can do that.”

Check out the whole piece. It’s good arts writing.

Herald Goes (Lady) Gaga Over Raunchy Photo

November 10, 2013

So the hardreading staff was perusing the Sunday Boston Herald when we went over The Edge.


Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 12.04.10 PM


Wait – is Lady Gaga holding what we think she is?


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Whoa – file that under frisky local tabloid.

No comments attached to the, er, piece yet. But it’s still early in the day.

Taylor-Made: Split Decision on Swift’s New Album

October 22, 2012

Today’s local dailies have polar opposite reviews of Taylor Swift’s new album.

Start with James Reed’s piece in the Boston Globe:

With her new album ‘Red,’ Taylor Swift grows up

Pursues pop hits — and more mature songwriting

For a sense of how much Taylor Swift has matured on her new album, compare the title track with that of her last record.

“Speak Now,” from 2010, cast Swift as a hapless “girl” (in her words) who crashed the wedding of her ex-boyfriend and proceeded to hide behind a curtain and make silly jokes about the bride. The whole scenario was cute, like something a lovable sitcom character would do for a cheap laugh.

Think of “Red” as the next chapter in that young girl’s life. She has become a young woman, and that joke isn’t funny anymore. Now she’s writing about heartache from a decidedly grown-up perspective.

Okay, now say hello to the Boston Herald’s Jed Gottlieb. His piece renders a decidedly different verdict.

It’s time for Swift to grow up

Taylor Swift turns 23 in December.

It’s the age when most teen idols try to transition to the adult market. While in their early 20s, Justin Timberlake matured beyond ’N SYNC, Canadian teen queen Alanis Morissette turned into a superstar hellion, and Janet Jackson became “Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty.”

But Swift isn’t interested in adulthood. She wants to be 16 forever. Not 21 or even 18, but a Sweet 16 spinning diary entries into pop ditties — she’s dating a junior in high school for goodness sake!

And might be playing around on him!

From (but it’s all over the web):

Taylor Swift cheats with Patrick Schwarzenegger

Taylor Swift may be tired of playing the victim and has turned the tables on Conor Kennedy. It has been reported that Taylor Swift cheated on Conor Kennedy with Patrick Schwarzenegger. Conor Kennedy and Patrick Schwarzenegger are cousins

Celeb Dirty Laundry reported on October 10 Taylor Swift was caught “making out” with Patrick Schwarzenegger. This activity went on all night at a Kennedy family event. At the time of publication, the exact Kennedy family event was unknown.

Maybe because it never happened. Then again the hardbrowsing staff did see this on the cover of a checkout tabloid:

Kennedys: Taylor is trash!

Hey, Track Gals (and Megan!): We need you on the case here.


Herald Snubs Globe’s RadioBDC Edition

August 21, 2012

In his column today, Boston Herald music scribe Jed Gottlieb laments the loss of local radio talent on Boston’s airwaves.

The Last DJs

Hub radio lacks character after purge

Boston’s airwaves have been stripped of personality.

Last month, the signal for alternative flagship WFNX (101.7 FM) was sold to Clear Channel, which turned the station into generic hits station The Harbor. In June, CBS Radio laid off staff and turned WODS (103.3 FM) classic hits into the jock-less Top 40 Amp Radio.

“I still feel like we just lost ’BCN (which went off the air in 2009) and ’FNX was the last man standing against all the robot radio,” said Parlour Bells frontman Glenn di Benedetto, who wrote the Hub rock anthem “Airwaves” in tribute to WFNX. “(Former-WFNX DJ) Julie Kramer said, ‘Your local DJ knows when it’s raining outside,’ and I put that in my song because I liked what it meant. With DJ-free radio, there’s no personality, no sense of community.”

That’s all true, if incomplete. Gotlieb fails to mention that ‘FNX has migrated wholesale to the Boston Globe’s RadioBDC, which describes itself this way:

RadioBDC is Boston’s only live hosted, streaming alternative station. We feature music, news, contests and the best breaking bands in the alternative format. Listen each weekday to hear Henry Santoro, Julie Kramer, Adam 12 & Paul Driscoll.

Is that essential to Gotlieb’s column? No.

Is it relevant? Yes.

Is omitting it petty? The hardreading staff says, definitely.