It was announced last week that the music journalism staple Pitchfork would be joining GQ’s organization, a vague but ominous move that implies massive consequences. Already, some of the most reputable and inquisitive writers, editors, and creators at Pitchfork have been laid off, including editor-in-chief Puja Patel. Patel’s mission of making Pitchfork a more diverse and eclectic platform was evident in the expansion of the Pitchfork music festivals to London, Berlin, and Mexico City, as well as the wide range of voices who contributed to the site’s coverage. Cited as a business-sided decision, Condé Nast seems motivated by the stronger advertising presence of the GQ brand, and the art of Pitchfork’s music criticism is the literal price to pay.
In the wake of one of music’s most long standing and influential journalism destinations, fans and artists alike express gratitude for what was and worry for what is to come. Pitchfork’s dedication to not only covering the essentials but promoting new acts is a practice that will be hard to replicate for any who look to fill the void – Kara Jackson and Arooj Aftab both expressed their gratitude towards Pitchfork for helping uplift their music, introducing it to a new audience who valued the publication’s tastes and perspectives. A critical blow to the current state of music journalism, optimism is running low in regard to the value we place on criticism in an increasingly populist landscape. The art does not stop at the music – it is continued in the way we interact with it, live with it, talk about it, and are changed by it. While the skies look bleak, focus can now turn to the response, from the readers, writers, and fans alike.