✍️ Journalism of all kinds exists to inform

The Daily Reader

Last week, two big stories, from different journalism worlds I have a foot in, took a lot of heat online. 

On February 7, Pitchfork ran a negative review of the third album by Italian rock group ​​Måneskin, Rush! The next day, The TRiiBE broke one of the biggest stories in the Chicago mayoral race: that Gus Vallas, son of mayoral candidate Paul Vallas, was one of three San Antonio police officers who shot and killed a Black man in March 2022. (Former Reader news editor Jim Daley reported The TRiiBE story.) I noticed one response emerge to both pieces: “Why publish this?” 

I always find responses like this perplexing. It implies a news outlet should ignore its raison d’etre. Journalism of all kinds—hard news reporting, criticism, personal essays—exist to inform. The reason The TRiiBE ran its story on Gus Vallas is obvious, and spelled out in the reporting. Paul Vallas has courted the Blue Lives Matter crowd, and last June he publicly criticized a new Chicago Police Department policy that prevents officers from chasing people on foot for minor offenses or if someone is fleeing. Three months before CPD’s policy announcement—and Vallas’s criticism of it—Gus Vallas and two other police officers chased Kevin Donel Johnson Jr. on foot before fatally shooting him. 

Paul Vallas has made public safety one of the primary concerns of his mayoral race and criticized a CPD policy about foot chases, and his son fatally shot someone after a foot pursuit. Gus Vallas may be employed in another city, but he’s still the son of a mayoral candidate who has reinforced his base with the support of the Fraternal Order of the Police. Politicians who run for office often relay personal anecdotes underlining why they decided to run for office, and how their lived experiences inform policy decisions they want to enact. When we go to the polls on election day, we vote for people who are fallible and who have emotional reactions to what happens in our communities and often act in response to their experiences. 

So yes, it’s absolutely important that the public know that a mayoral candidate who has criticized a local policy preventing cops from pursuing people on-foot in minor instances has a cop son who fatally shot someone after an on-foot pursuit. The press has to tell the public about the politicians who want to serve us so all of us can make informed decisions come election day. What you want to do with that information is up to you. But the people who took The TRiiBE’s story as an opportunity to lob racist invectives at a Black news outlet can blow it out their ass. (Pardon my language, I don’t have much patience for that horseshit.)

And why run a negative ​​Måneskin review? Why publish a negative piece of criticism when there are worlds of great music that will go unremarked upon? And when there is so little time for every writer and editor to publish original music criticism, and fewer and fewer places dedicated to publishing thoughtful reflections of music? Well, primarily because criticism exists as a journalistic expression, and because ​​Måneskin is a phenomenon that exists. And confounds. And because the band’s popularity and status invites the kinds of questions Pitchfork editor and critic (and midwest native!) Jeremy Larson posed and addressed in his review. I can tell you I would not have known ​​Måneskin won the Eurovision competition in 2021 had I not read Larson’s review, which made me more curious about the band and kept me reading. I listened to Rush! before Pitchfork ran the review, and I can tell you this; it’s not as fun as what Larson wrote. 


 Love Labor: On Touring as an Independent Musician,” by Eli Winter (Los Angeles Review of Books)
 On Music Criticism + Failed Internet,” by Miranda Reinert (Miranda’s newsletter)

 Wounds of Recollection, Warm Glow of the End of Everything
 KoiFsh, Loose Change
 Crushed, Extra Life
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Feb. 9 – Feb. 22, 2023
Vol. 52, No. 9.

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