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Jacko and the perils of publishing

June 29th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music · No Comments · Life, Music

Q Magazine, August 2009.  In the shops from the end of June

Q Magazine, August 2009. In the shops from the end of June

Over the weekend it has been hard to ignore Michael Jackson.  His name was on the front of all the papers in the newsagents, his songs were all over the radio and there was an unfeasibly large display of his greatest hits in HMV.   On top of that there was Q magazine with Jackson all over its cover.  Knowing that magazines have a bit of a lead time from the writing to appearing in the shops this looked like quite an achievement, but it turned out to be just luck.  Not sure whether it is good luck or bad luck though.

Is this the sort of thing that magazine editors dream about or have nightmares about?I imagine they will pick up a few extra sales, being the only glossy magazine with MJ’s face all over the cover – at least until the others catch up, but given that it was all written before he died and in anticipation of the now-cancelled (surely!) tour who knows what hostages to fortune may have been written inside.  There must be something unsavoury in there with the potential to upset fans, because the editor has published an apology already.  He says:

Work on this issue was completed a fortnight ago and it was printed shortly thereafter. When news of Michael Jackson’s death broke in the early hours of Friday morning, it was already being distributed. As such, we have had no opportunity to change any of the editorial content within the issue. Such is the risk inherent in producing a monthly magazine – that events may overtake a story that you are committed to.

If you do take offence to any part of the issue in light of Michael Jackson’s tragic passing, I can only apologise on behalf of Q. Hopefully, you will understand that no offence was intended or meant.

It will be fun looking through to see what they have written.   Its a recipe for disaster because Jackson’s bizarre life and behaviour encouraged suitably ripe comments, all packaged up in a magazine that must currently be a magnet for obsessive Jackson fans.

Of course, the (valid) excuse about preparing a special issue to tie in with the comeback tour applies to HMV as well.  When I saw the large number of Jackson CDs on Friday I was impressed that they could have gotten so much stock within 24 hours.  I had a mental picture of CD-pressing plants and printers working overtime to get them done but although there probably were CD plants suddenly turning to churning out extra copies of Jackson CDs, I realised that it is more likely they already had a substantial stock in the back in anticipation of the tour.

Back to Q though.  I haven’t read any of the stories yet, but I have read the editor’s introduction which says, ironically:

At the time of going to press, the self-styled King of Pop was due to play the first shows of his proposed 50-night stand at London’s O2 Arena within a matter of days.  But as Q has learnt in the process of putting this issue together, there are no certainties in Michael Jackson’s world – besides the one that suggests anything that can go madly, will go madly.

No certainties indeed, except that plaudits for the, admittedly rather good, Thriller will result on the equally good Off The Wall being cruelly overlooked, and that Quincy Jones’ contribution will be even more cruelly overlooked.

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