By Dinah Cardin
There are 300,000 “art blogs” out there right now. Fortunately, this one is about this community and that might be the reason you are reading it.
Last week, I attended a forum at MIT on Arts Journalism in the Internet Era as part of their Comparative Media Studies program. Panelists Doug McLennan, editor of ArtsJournal.com and Bill Marx, editor of the TheArtsFuse.com debated the future of covering the arts in the age of digital media and how it has changed the way we articulate our responses to the arts.
“Everybody’s talking about this right now,” said McLennan, who founded ArtsJournal in 1999. Though his venture gets about 60,000 visitors a day and is making money through multiple streams, McLennan said his nationally focused publication will need to be re-vamped in order to keep up. He recently judged a National Arts Journalism Summit put on by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. Five public projects were chosen from more than 100 examples of online arts journalism. Art Throb participated in this project. Last week, McLennan said not one clear model emerged. People are trying interesting things, but, folks, this is new territory.
Marx spoke in length on the idea of the serious review going out the window. His site says that in creating an ideal arts and culture site for New England, “First of all, we decided that it should provide serious, informed criticism and opinion about the arts, not just random blog posts or Tweets.”
I remember North Shore-based classical musicians asking me, while at the Salem Gazette, to critique their concerts. I must say, I did not feel qualified. Arts writing has become more experiential, much more We were there. We interviewed the artist, saw the work, formed some kind of opinion, so go see it for yourself.
In a newly launched series, Marx sent several different “judges” to review a play. Some had a theater background, while others had knowledge of the topic – Rwanda and genocide. What emerged, for better or worse, was a complete analysis, looking at the production from every angle.
Complete reviews have given way to an instantaneous critique of thumbs up or thumbs down. But real criticism was long tainted in this country in mainstream journalism. Poe, pointed out Marx, wrote a wonderful review of Hawthorne and then accused him of stealing from one of his stories.
In the age of blogging, it was pointed out by McLennan and at least one MIT student, young people don’t trust one “expert” telling them like it is. They want a dialogue, the ability to comment and discuss a topic.
Though our communication is now rapid fire and not always thought out, we are forced to carefully choose our words and use them sparingly in blogs, Facebook posts and text messages. The good news is that when words fail us, when trying to articulate what is important about a dance performance, for instance, we can reach to multimedia formats such as video.
As journalism transforms and newspapers go under, more students entering journalism school are expressing a desire to write about the arts and, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Internet has greatly improved connections between artists, art communities and audiences.