Thursday, April 23, 2009

Anniversary Coverage

I don't get anniversaries as hooks for stories, and nothing illustrates why like Keith Spera's coverage of the 40th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at It's a cyclical exercise in nostalgia for a non-story:

From James Booker and Bongo Joe to Billy Joel and Bon Jovi.

From $3 at the gate to $50.

From hundreds of attendees to hundreds of thousands.

From a budget in the tens of thousands to a budget in the millions.

From sponsorship by Schlitz to sponsorship by Shell.

Much about the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has changed

Ten years from now, the second half of those statements might change, but they'll reflect the same thought - "look at how things have changed" - but they could also be made four years from now or eight years ago or 17 years ago or 12 years in the future. The number's a marketing device; the press doesn't have to bite on it.

By the way, I generally like Keith's writing a lot, but he goes a little soft when he starts explaining away criticisms of Jazz Fest today:

Some longtime festival fans bemoan its lost innocence. They miss the days when ice chests and tent canopies were allowed and nighttime Jazz Fest concerts rocked the riverboat President. Some find corporate sponsorships and premium VIP ticket packages distasteful.

Ultimately, such contemporary festival realities do not distract from the average festival-goer's experience -- except, perhaps, when the grandstand's upper floors are reserved for VIP ticketholders and everybody else is huddled outside in the rain.

I'm not sure how he knows people aren't annoyed as they work negotiate their way through the Shell hospitality tents, and how people feel about there being a Miller hospitality suite with a view of the Acura Stage, and how he knows that most people who worked to get to the front of the stage don't care that the wealthy can buy their way in front of them with their VIP packages.

And while I agree that Jazz Fest ticket prices aren't out of line, that's probably the sort of argument that should come out of Quint Davis' mouth, not his.

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