March 9, 2007
Arts News from the Outback 03.09.07John Stoehr
A Seattle art critic accused of trading reviews for art: An ethics lesson for all of us, and a sign of a greater need for transparency, accountability and trust -- even from critics.
"In the last 20 years, daily-newspaper editors have lost interest in critical reviews, asking writers for more trend pieces, profiles, and investigative reports. Last year, when [Matthew] Kangas wrote 20 reviews of regional exhibitions in the Seattle Times, the staff art critic Sheila Farr wrote only five, according to the paper's online archives--she wrote other kinds of stories, such as a three-day series about Dale Chihuly, which she worked on with another reporter and a team of researchers. Given this disparity, Kangas can be seen as a friend to the art community in Seattle.
"The emphasis on reporting instead of criticism, or in addition to criticism, has dragged critics into the same spotlight reporters work under, where lapses of judgment are firing offenses. Today, being embedded is looked at with suspicion, and being detached is more in vogue. Each position certainly has its merits. But the industry is still struggling to combine the two approaches in a way that keeps critics passionate, engaged, and knowledgeable, without allowing their biases to be, or to appear to be, personal or financial.
(Thanks to Jen Graves of the Seattle Stranger)
Posted by John Stoehr at March 9, 2007 8:42 AM
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