Newcastle Station Clock

Newcastle Station Clock

Thursday, 3 January 2013


I should not be here. I should not be writing this post, I don't have time. I apologise if it's rushed, sloppy. What I should be doing is jobhunting, not especially because I'm desperate for a job IMMEDIATELY but because if I don't have a certain number of applications in the bag by tomorrow, the government will take my benefits away. That's important. Remember it for later.

This post is not so much linked to architecture, but architectural journalism, music - culture in general. Architecture is involved, but it is perhaps a sideshow rather than the main point. Anyway, here goes:

I was just thinking about a little argument that happened in architectural journalism late in 2012. Owen Hatherley, intellectual, criticised sites like Dezeen and ArchDaily here, for their image-centric focus, their pandering to the lowest common denominator, and the effect that this presentation of architecture has had on design itself*. This led to a swift and sarcastic Dezeen Response, and if you're interested in a rather balanced analysis of it all, I hold few people in higher esteem than Douglas Murphy.

The internet has been a revolution. A huge revolution, and a revolution that many people are well aware have had a catastrophic effect on some media industries: firstly music, then traditional print journalism, and others to boot. This effect began with money; the internet is the best place in the world to get stuff for free, particularly when said stuff can be categorised as intellectual property.

Both industries have reacted and are generally confident about their ensured survival, but not without consequence: Douglas Murphy laments the reduction in the quality of journalism provided by these very successful new websites, and studies show that in cities, you are never further than five meters from a music enthusiast who deplores the state of current music.

In both industries, the answer to their dilemma involved reaching more people with more content which costs the consumer less. But the problem with this process is that quality often takes time, which costs producers/publishers money. Producers/publishers have had to cut back on genuine talent in favour of productivity, and genuinely talented writers and artists have been squeezed out of their various markets.

But, the internet has been a revolution. What Murphy refers to as 'the democratising effect of internet culture'  means that anyone can set up a blog, or a flickr account, or a soundcloud, or even just spunk their opinions into a youtube comment. If you have the desire to express yourself, there are plenty of ways to do it. And people do. A lot. In fact, if you're looking for quality in all things, these are usually better places to go than mainstream markets. I don't think it's any coincidence that of the three 'opinion' type articles mentioned above, the most balanced and considered is Douglas Murphy's. Which despite his position as Architectural Editor at Icon, is a blog post which would not have been paid in any way.

What has happened due to this internet culture is that the most successful people are the ones who are most productive, and the people who are most talented are forced to express themselves with no promotion and no reward. We have created a kind of Kakistocracy. Which leads to me, an aspiring architectural journalist, not only writing this for free, but this post potentially costing me over £100. Fair enough it may be arrogant to assume that I am inherently more talented than employed architectural journalists, but I'm unemployed, throw me a bone here.

And, if anyone reading this would like to prove me wrong by giving me a job, I'd be much obliged (contact)

*A similar criticism was done by one of our own, here


  1. I must commend you on your article, and thank you for the three links, they're exactly the sort I have been looking for for an essay.
    Particularly enjoy the Dezeen response which purely regurgitates the original article and doesn't bother 'coming back'

  2. If you scroll down a bit, you will find a short response from Dezeen's founder Marcus Fairs in the comments. But your point remains valid because this response only happened at the request of readers - and because Fairs prefaces his response with "here goes then..." as if four paragraphs to defend his entire business concept is a tremendous undertaking - very odd considering an illustrious career as a more traditional journalist.

    Furthermore, the response itself does not go far to defend against Hatherley's accusations.

  3. whey! archiendo ahead of the curve by two full months.

    Maybe Owen Hatherly reads dezeen. What I want to know is when will dezeen catch on with Zaha's new paper?