having a amassed a massive collection of past NMEs i flicked through a few old copies, one from 1987, 2003 and 1993. compare it to the NME we have today and its a totally different magazine. Back then they reported on proper bands and the look of the mag wasn't all glossy like it is today. I don't think they would be reporting on justin bieber if it were 1993, or even 2003. Its probably down to the quality of music around now, or lack of. Even in 2003 there was the strokes and franz ferdinand.
I think its all down to simon cowell and his idea of cheap manufactured pop music everywhere. Plus the internet and free music, bands have had it hard.