I need to report that my close association with Hi-Fi Choice magazine (covering some 30 of the past 34 years) was terminated following the magazine’s recent purchase by an organisation with the unlikely name of My Hobby Store (which also now owns Hi-Fi News).
Although the previous owners hadn’t seemed in the least concerned, the new management was unhappy that HIFICRITIC was promoted on the basis that its freedom from advertising ensured superior independence from commercial pressures. I was effectively given an ultimatum that if I wanted to continue to work for Choice, I would have to give up editing CRITIC.
I should add that getting off the Hi-Fi Choice treadmill after all these years has actually proved rather welcome. However, this change and the reason that lies behind it has also focused my attention on some of the less welcome politicking that goes on amongst the hi-fi media. It’s almost as though we were actually important parts of the industry, rather than as I feel, merely parasitic commentators!
It’s part of my job as editor to choose and chase equipment for review. Unfortunately as HIFICRITIC is one of the newer magazines around with a small circulation, we’re inevitably low down the pecking order when it comes to receiving review product.
I don’t particularly mind that, as I’m not the least interested in trying to ‘scoop’ other magazines with ‘first reviews’. Indeed, I’d much rather run a review conducted after due consideration by an expert, than rush into print in order to be first. What does rather alarm me is the rumour that some magazines refuse to review a product at all unless given first dibs.
The advertising and editorial departments had very little communication when I was working in publishing houses back in the 1970s and 1980s, but today the links between them do seem to have become an area of some sensitivity.
Maybe times have changed, but as far as I’m concerned an editor’s sole responsibility should be to search out the very best possible content to suit his readership. We might be the new kids on the hi-fi magazine block, but I believe we’re producing an interesting, varied and authoritative read for all hi-fi enthusiasts, and have managed to create a magazine that has its own distinctive identity.
Paul Messenger Editor HIFICRITIC March 2012