After The Observer's rather generous 60th birthday coverage, the Guardian is a little more cool towards the NME. (Bless, it's like the NME and Melody Maker taking different tacks on a band, isn't it?)
Krissi Murison gets to deny a few high-profile rumours - she says it's "categorically untrue" that there was an issue before Christmas which only scraped 12,000 sales; denies they're dumping guitar bands (unless Noel goes ragga, it would seem unlikely) and rules out the title going free.
She also points to the seven million unique visitors to nme.com as evidence of the title being in rude health. Except that figure is boosted by the addition of a lot of film and TV content which isn't really what people think of as being the NME; and it's questionable how many of those seven million even know there's a magazine, and a heritage, behind the site.
And the fixation on the past that is currently choking the life out the magazine? It's brilliant, apparently:
She talks enthusiastically of the magazine's embrace of the past over the last year, when it ran a number of retrospective cover stories.The very mention of focus groups suggests part of the problem, doesn't it? Sit a bunch of kids around, give them biscuits and ask them what they think of the idea of putting John Lennon on the front page, and you'll get lots of applause. But are they going to go out and buy the magazine?
"Young fans really love these covers," she says. "Our focus groups get really excited when it's the Smiths or John Lennon. You used to be really limited in what you could listen to, but now you have access to everything – young readers don't think chronologically about music."
(Consults ABC figures.)
No. No, they're not.
I know we're living in different days now, but the idea of NME covers being dictated by focus group feedback seems to miss the point of what it should be doing. What you'd hope it should be doing.