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News Flash: Official Annoucement of Changes at Art in America Magazine

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Marcia Vetrocq, new editor of Art in America

This just in—a press release from Art in America (not online at this writing), announcing the changes in leadership. Betsy Baker, who has resigned her long-time position as editor, will be editor-at-large “in charge of special projects, which will include book publishing and website development.” Website development? Betsy? If there is one aspect of AiA that probably needs some fresh, tech-savvy blood, I’d say it’s website development.

As I previously reported, Marcia Vetrocq is the new editor, having begun contributing to the magazine in the early 1980s. She became senior editor in 1998. It’s somewhat reassuring that they’ve promoted from within.

The press release additionally reveals:

Managing editor Richard Vine is assuming the new position, senior editor, Asia, in a further sign of the magazine’s commitment to expanding world art-market coverage. Associate managing editor David Ebony will assume full managing editor responsibilities.

No wonder David avoided answering me when I ran into him recently and asked whether there were any changes afoot at the magazine related to the ownership and management shifts at Brant Publications. Fabien Baron and Glenn O’Brien, who were named editorial directors for Brant, will oversee its three publications (which also include Interview and The Magazine Antiques). Vetrocq will report to them.

And here’s the bio of Betsy that I wished I had yesterday, when I first reported her resignation:

Trained in art history at Bryn Mawr and Harvard, Baker taught art history at Boston University and Wheaton College. She was managing editor at Art News [under Tom Hess] during much of the 1960s. She received the [College Art Association's Frank Jewett] Mather Award…for art criticism in 1973.

A redesign of AiA will debut with the November 2008 issue.

But the big question is: What’s going to happen editorially? I’m disconcerted by the description of Vine’s new position as a “sign of the magazine’s commitment to expanding world art-market coverage.” Art-market coverage? How about just plain art coverage? 

What I do think AiA needs to do is to welcome a wider group of writers and to become more topical and timely, without sacrificing seriousness and scholarship. A significantly beefed-up web presence? Absolutely. Right now, the magazine’s website is comatose. Of course, they should also run a blog!

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