When Jessica Hopper was contacted privately by former Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis, she listened. Hopper, a freelance columnist for The Village Voice, and DeRogatis, now a professor at Columbia College, had argued on Twitter about his continuing coverage of singer-record producer R. Kelly’s sexual assault charges. But DeRogatis offered Hopper all his files, and on Monday, Hopper wrote about speaking with DeRogatis and why the music media hasn’t reported the story out.
She asks: “Do you think part of how it’s been handled and why it’s been under-reported is that music writers may not know how to deal with it in a journalistic sense?” And DeRogatis replies:
Let’s start with the most mundane part. A lot of people who are critics are fans and don’t come with any academic background, with any journalistic background, research background. Now, nobody knows everything and far be it from me to say you’ve got to be a journalist or you have to have studied critical theory in the academy. Part of what we do is journalistic. Get the names right, get the dates right, get the facts right. Sometimes, on a very rare number of stories, there’s a deeper level of reporting required. There’s another reason. People are squeamish. I think a lot of people don’t know how to do it, don’t care to do it, and it’s way too much work. It’s just kind of disgusting to have write about this and bum everyone out when you just want to review a record.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained a misspelling of Jessica Hopper’s name and incorrectly identified her as a reporter for The Village Voice rather than a freelance columnist.