The New Musical Express has long thrived off its reputation as a hot-bed for cigarette-smoking, grease-stained male journalists living on the gnarly end of rock music. But, now and again, everything could do with an overhaul. And at long last, one of the most historically important titles in music is to benefit from a woman's touch.
Yesterday, the NME's outgoing editor Conor McNicholas and its publisher, IPC Media, made simultaneous announcements that Krissi Murison will be the NME's first female editor from 1 September. McNicholas is leaving the magazine to take over the editorship of BBC Worldwide's Top Gear title later this year.
"I don't think there's any great conspiracy," Murison said. "It's changing; there are many more women in the music press and music industry as a whole. There is this perception of NME as a Boys' Own club and yes, there are more guys than girls, but it's not exclusive in any way."
The NME has made the careers of several prominent female journalists – from Julie Burchill and Barbara Ellen to Lucy O'Brien, who focuses on female musicians – women writers have always been in the minority at the publication. Murison's appointment might reflect the present swath of female singer-songwriters on the up, a stark contrast to the armies of leather-jacket-sporting, skinny-jean-wearing indie boys who previously provided the magazine's staple diet.
"It's definitely a good thing and is ridiculously overdue," said Andrew Collins, a former NME staffer and broadcaster. "It helps erase the strange notion that this is just a boys' game. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, really. If you have a woman near the top it is more likely to inspire younger, female writers. If they aren't there, they can't."
Murison, 27, joined the NME in 2003 as a junior staff writer, moving on to new bands editor, features editor and McNicholas's deputy editor, before taking up her present post as music director of Nylon in New York.
"It's vital that NME is created by music fans with the same passions, interests and concerns as the people reading it," said Murison. "And yes, it probably helps if they are of a similar age too. I'm lucky enough to have got a lot of magazine experience under my belt, while still being young enough to count myself squarely in that group."
"There was an enormous amount of interest in this position," said Paul Cheal, the publishing director of NME. But I'm delighted that we've managed to lure Krissi back from New York."
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