Today in “Sightings,” my Wall Street Journal column about the arts in America, I write about how blogging is affecting arts journalism:
Sometimes the conventional wisdom turns out to be true–only with a twist. Most newspapers, for instance, really are devoting less space to the fine arts, but that’s because newspapers themselves are growing smaller and smaller. Relatively speaking, says Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP), American newspapers allocate the same percentage of their space to the arts today that they did five years ago. The problem isn’t the slice of the pie but the quality of the filling. Outside of a half-dozen or so major American cities, newspaper arts criticism has always been dismayingly uneven….
How to break these viciously interlocking circles? Since 2004, the NAJP has been running a series of two-week “institutes” for critics and writers from regional newspapers and other publications. I’ve taught at two of these institutes (the most recent of which took place last month in New York City), and though my students have varied widely in experience, they’ve worked impressively hard to strengthen their grasp of the art forms they’d been assigned to cover. I expect all of them to go home and do good things.
That’s one approach. Another is to start a blog, a Web-based journal that can be read by anyone with a computer and access to the Internet. A couple of hundred bloggers now write about the arts on a fairly regular basis. I’ve been following their work since I started my own “artblog,” “About Last Night,” in the summer of 2003, and I believe the same technological revolution that has already transformed political journalism is about to have a similarly galvanizing effect on regional arts journalism….
Read the whole thing here. As was the case with Friday’s drama column, the entire Online Journal is free all this week, the idea being that once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to subscribe (which I recommend).