The Romance Before the Digital Age

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This week we have been struck with the news that the print department at NME is closing after an impressive 66-year run. The more I have thought about this news the more I have come to realise how devastating this news is.

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As a writer getting my work in a printed publication for the first time was a huge milestone. An event I have been waiting for my whole life. When this moment happened, I felt I had started on the road to success and I was one step closer to achieving my dreams.

The first time my writing went into print.
The first time my writing went into print. An interview for Classic Rock Society with Ten Years After.

On Twitter I follow many successful and inspiring people. The tweets that have surfaced since the closure of NME’s print department are both saddening and inspiring. The main message that has come through is that NME gave people a chance and all they asked for was that the journalist had a passion and an opinion. They didn’t ask for degrees or a wealth of experience. NME started the careers of many journalists and it enabled them to gain the experience that is so crucial to success in the industry.

Call me old fashioned but I love old formats. I love cassette tapes, vinyl records, physical books and none of this e-book nonsense. I could never bring myself to spend money on a Kindle or download a book off the internet. When I research material for my essays at university I still strive to find the resources in physical formats from the library rather than using e-books. This is because I find them easier to read and let’s face it they’re easier to cite!

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The world before the digital age was romantic and keepsake. People would congregate in record stores, gravitate to the friend’s house who owned the most vinyl and spend all day in the local library reading about ghosts, fairies and anything of interest. Nothing compares to the smell and feel of an old book. These physical entities allowed people to own something they could hold and keep. At concerts you can get your favourite band to sign your album or an author to sign your book. I have several books and records that are signed, and I will keep them forever. These objects are priceless.

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Today we download MP3’s or maybe even that is old fashioned now. We stream off Spotify or Apple Music. Nothing can compare to the longevity of a physical record where the only way you are going to lose it is if you lose it. I’m sure most people have experienced that crippling moment when your hardrive dies or your music files become corrupt and stop working because some evil virus has entered your PC or something you plugged in wasn’t compatible.

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The use of digital services does have benefits. It makes most things easier, quicker and cheaper. I worry that the digital age has caused the quality in creative industries to decrease. Manufactured music has risen and there’s no soul left. Processed money-making films have flooded into cinema and the romance of the carefully scripted dialogue and beautifully articulated camera angles have been lost. I just can’t help but feel a little bit of the world dies every time a newspaper halts their print department, or a publication closes. Yet the saddest part of it all is that this post is being presented to you inside a screen. A digital format. A sad state of affairs indeed.


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