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July 18, 2005

More on newspapers underwriting the arts

In response to Allan:

Good point about the firewalls newspapers set up between their foundations and daily pages; and, no, i have never heard of any editor applying pressure directly to a critic NOT to critique a given arts group negatively simply because they are funded.

But, don't forget you work in an unusual and unique situation; most newspapers give directly to their communities AND have foundations, yours does not.

This is more a subtle relationship I'm trying to get at: American news editors tend to feel protective of their local cultural environment. They try to balance that with a need for opinion pieces that cast a discerning eye at the very events they just previewed with such a splash of ink. In my experience, there's usually a good balance struck, but why do newspapers put themselves into the position of even appearing to have a conflict? They would NEVER do this, for instance, by having an owner's share in a local sports team, or make a contribution to a lobbyist at the local state house. Never.

When real news breaks, i.e., fraud, criminal activity, union strike, etc., they are all over it, as they should be. It's nice if they can afford an independent arts reporter, but frankly, very few papers (and mine is one of the lucky ones) can afford it, so the critics themselves play the reporter's role.

I have known stories to be discouraged or killed if someone high in the ladder felt it was too outrageous and unsupported an opinion; that's just good journalism.

Posted by wconrad at July 18, 2005 11:21 AM


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