The latter view seems to stem from a misconception of what writing about music entails. So I stumbled accross this tidbit from Patrick Jarenwattananon on NPR's A Blog Supreme in a piece concerning the question of whether jazz scribes need to know how to play too, but it which fits perfectly into this discussion as well:
"[I]t seems as if what is most needed from jazz journalism today is not strictly criticism of sounds themselves, but also explication: gathering context, making connections, lending new perspectives or otherwise giving a "way into" this stuff for the common non-musician. We need to remove the intimidation factor. We need to redefine jazz's connections to the world around it. And we need to render all this artfully."