No Times at Spoleto
(Note: As you can see from the mess below, this story got some facts wrong. Since posting this story, new and correct information has come to light. In an effort to be honest and transparent, I have struck-through the errors and indicated the corrections by using italics.)
Like you need more evidence that the media world is changing.
We noticed early on that the 2009 Spoleto Festival USA has been conspicuously absent from the pages and website of The New York Times. There was a piece on Wadsworth's retirement two weeks prior to the start. The only item after that came today, relaying the news of Wadsworth's successor, Geoff Nuttall. Then again, everyone knew that around 9 p.m. Sunday when the festival PR people sent out a media blast making the announcement.
Sources inside the festival say no amount of effort could get the
Gray Lady to send a reporter or a critic. (Correction: PR director Paula Edwards told me Spoleto had no luck persuading the newspaper to come down; when I asked if the reason stemmed from the paper's struggling financial state, she said yes. I have since learned from a colleague at the Times that this is not true; Spoleto's programming wasn't compelling enough to warrant sending anyone to cover the festival).
Not Wadsworth's retirement,
not the American premiere of Don John, and not the re-staging and re-visioning of an obscure French opera, Louise. In retrospect, though, we might have seen this coming. The Times reported a loss of $75 million for the first quarter of the year.
And last May, the paper sent a reporter and not a critic (Clarification: My colleague tells me the reason for sending a reporter and not a critic has nothing to do with finances; it has to do with last year's news story on the reunification of the American and Italian festivals). The Post and Courier's
Adam Parker was the only reporter from a print publication to attend
the festival's annual board meeting on Memorial Day. The pressure to
maintain its visibility in the media is so strong that festival
officials were disappointed that City Paper didn't attend. 2009 may be the first year since Wadsworth began the chamber music series that someone from the Times has not been presence. (Correction: This is not the first year the Times has not sent a critic or reporter). I know it's the first time in recent memory (Clarification: this is my memory which has shown on this occasion to be unreliable). Such is the state of even the august Times that it can't afford to send a critic down for a few days (Correction: see first correction above). Evidently, it's watching every penny (Correction: see first correction above).
(I regret the above errors and any harm they may have caused.)
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