Is Yelp Replacing Arts Journalists?

yelp.jpgCraigslist stole in and took the classified ad business away from newspapers while they weren’t looking. The same thing seems to be happening to A&E reviews and listings with Yelp. Newspapers have been doing a worse and worse job of reviewing local performances. And most newspaper listings are not very good.

Yelp is a community built around reviews. Yelp users review everything, and as its user base has grown it has become more and more useful as a way to sort out what you’re looking for. I use it to find restaurants when I’m traveling.

Increasingly, Yelpers are using the site to review performances. Newspapers, rather than step up their game, seem to be conceding this segment of their audience.

Mark Potts:

What’s happening is that Yelp now has enough crowdsourced
participants and reviews of enough businesses in enough markets to be a
truly useful tool in trying to decide what to do for entertainment (and
more). Combined with search and geo-location (Yelp’s iPhone app is
indispensable), Yelp is becoming a very powerful tool. 

a big deal for newspapers, which long have touted their allegedly
encyclopedic knowledge of the local scene, as well as their restaurant
and entertainment reviewers. But why grapple with clumsy newspaper
entertainment-guide and calendar interfaces, and take the word of a
single, over-stretched reviewer, when you can quickly see what the
crowd is saying on Yelp about the place you want to go? And as Yelp
expands its reach beyond restaurants and entertainment locations into
other local businesses, it’s becoming even more valuable. Advertisers
will be sure to follow.
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  1. says

    I was at a conference Tuesday in Paris about the future of classical music and the press. There were heavyweights on the panel but the audience was about the same size. In other words, hardly anyone showed up. I write for It was a magazine for 130 years and is now a subscription website.
    I am coming more and more to the opinion that musical criticism, for example, a "gate" between the performance and the audience, is disappearing. Arts organizations are more and more providing video samples, free downloads and other goodies to make direct contact with their audience at their websites. For the young, buzz is transmitted now more effectively electronically – hardly any read a newspaper. Sic transit..etc.

  2. Aaron Majors says

    I say, "maybe." But I also say, "hopefully." The reason behind this is because I feel individual accounts and descriptions of events from the man on the street resonate in the new social reality more than the (sometimes inaccurately) perceived notion that arts journalists, specifically critics, are some sort of alien race sent to dictate what you like. I think the dialogue started, and the flame wars that often occur, can only be a good thing. That's not to say arts journalists are unimportant or not needed (I'm here, obviously), but I think this new reality should be embraced and not feared.

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