Media / Talk of the Trade: Singer who fell into the generation gulf

EVERY national newspaper news editor has heard of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Sid Vicious and Jimi Hendrix. Most may have a Janis Joplin record stashed away, and a few may even place Jim Morrison in the right band. But I suspect that, until his death, virtually none knew of Kurt Cobain.

The suicide of the grunge band's lead singer may well have marked a turning point in media coverage of popular culture: for the first time, the generation of journalists who grew up with pop music showed themselves to be out of touch with the under-20s; there was no realisation that that this singer's death was just as poignant for youngsters today as Hendrix's 24 years ago, and should have received similar coverage.

True, Cobain's suicide was not ignored - but in the United States it led television news bulletins across the country. The Independent did well, putting it at the foot of page one. But for the Daily Mail, usually smart on youth idols, it was not a front-page story; the Times had a short report on page 3, the Guardian a mere 147 words on page 3, the Daily Telegraph a short basement on page 3. And nearly all dwelt on a pop star ruined by drugs and depression; few suggested the teenage world was in mourning.

The Sunday papers gave lengthier appraisals, but the under-20s were aghast at the initial coverage. A week after Cobain's death, the Times and Sunday Times astutely commissioned teenagers to give their impressions. They made revealing reading.

A grieving fan wrote in the Times: 'Every single person I know under the age of 35 is on the phone, and when I finally get through to them, they're chain-smoking and downing vodka . . . Press coverage seemed quite low key and slightly confused . . . For the kids, it means we don't get the chance to mourn properly, and for the adults, it means you missed out on the fire- burnished, fractured beauty of a furious recording career.'

The media seem to have given too much credence to pop charts being overrun by faceless, electronic dance bands. Between this admittedly large sector and the global super-stars, such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Axl Rose, there are a few bands - Nirvana, The Cure, Faith No More - who have touched a generation just like the Sixties and Seventies bands did their parents.

But for the first time for decades, the heroes of this mainstream teenage culture have not made the crossover from the music and youth magazines to the national papers. There is some catching up to do.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

PPC Manager

£30,000 - £35,000: Sauce Recruitment: PPC Manager urgently required for indepe...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor