James M emails with a query about Q editor-in-chief Paul Rees's apologia for the August edition of Q, which started to appear in shops yesterday:
I haven't read the Jackson piece in this month's edition of Q, but it seems strange that the editor should apologise in advance for publishing a piece which, according to the "Feral Beast" column in today's IoS, questioned Jackson's ability to play 50 nights at the O2. Before his death it was an entirely valid question to pose. Jackson's passing doesn't render it tasteless or offensive.
Exactly - indeed, suggesting that he might not be up to playing 50 nights in London seems prescient rather than offensive, especially since nobody is going to think that Q rushed to put together an issue which suggested he might not be up to it after Jackson died.
Here's what Rees has to say:
Michael Jackson’s record-breaking residency at London’s O2 Arena was always destined to be the year’s biggest music story, one way or another. As such, three months ago we decided to put Jackson on the cover of the issue of Q that will go on sale tomorrow and throughout the month of July, when the first batch of dates were due to take place.
Work on this issue was completed a fortnight ago and it was printed shortly thereafter. When news of Michael Jackson’s death broke in the early hours of Friday morning, it was already being distributed. As such, we have had no opportunity to change any of the editorial content within the issue. Such is the risk inherent in producing a monthly magazine – that events may overtake a story that you are committed to.
If you do take offence to any part of the issue in light of Michael Jackson’s tragic passing, I can only apologise on behalf of Q. Hopefully, you will understand that no offence was intended or meant.
I hope instead that Q’s salute to the Thriller album within the issue stands as our tribute to Michael Jackson. It remains a remarkable work by a truly remarkable pop star. We shall not see his like again.
I'm actually a little more offended at the mouthing of apologies for something simply because Jacko died while the issue was being zipped around the country. Either what you wrote was fair, or it wasn't, surely? Q isn't really scurrilous, and although your doubts about Jackson's fitness may have been proved right in a way you would not have wished, it's hardly as if you were wishing him ill. There's nothing to apologise for - except, perhaps, the apology itself.
UPDATE: Just noticed that Rees describes the death of Jackson as a story that broke "in the early hours of Friday morning". If Thursday evening is now part of Friday, perhaps.