AJ Logo an ARTSJOURNAL weblog | ArtsJournal Home | AJ Blog Central
Arts Journalism Blog

« Extraordinary machines | Main | Microsoft Sidewalk anyone? »

May 16, 2006

Cocoa Pebbles


A friend argued the other day that the proliferation of critical voices carried on the digital flood makes it more important than ever to find singular critics that one can get to know and like and trust. I think she makes a good point. There’s the practical matter of finding time to read 12 critics instead of one or two.

Like with breakfast cereal, you can be paralyzed by too many choices and comforted when you find one you enjoy every day. The new wrinkle is that it’s possible today that while living in Minneapolis, you can have a fave critic for movies in London, for music in New York, for theater in Minneapolis and for books in Auckland. Your “favorites” can include one critic who works for the Stranger, one for Pitchfork, one for a daily paper, another for a personal blogsite and one for an established online site like Salon or Slate.

It would be nice if the unruly chorus could reign within a single newspaper more than seems to be the case today in cultural journalism. At a union shop like my paper, there are limits to how much freelance I can use, which in turn means that the bulk of the coverage comes from staff writers.

Posted by at May 16, 2006 6:40 PM


"Like with breakfast cereal, you can be paralyzed by too many choices and comforted when you find one you enjoy every day"

Sure we all like a little comfort and security, but somedays I like to add bananas or blueberries, in season of course. In this discussion we can't forget the generational effect. I grew up with newspapers, it's delivered to my driveway daily; not always in the driveway and this morning the dog peed on it.
Many of my fellow bloggers are slightly older than my daughter, she's 17. Although bloggers may devour all types of media, very few of that generation are reading the daily paper(s).
On line versions are attracting more readers and importantly, advertisers. Blogs, to my 17 yr olds group have that comfort zone; the familiar ritual you get with your cereal. They feel very comfortable with a range of opinions and enjoy the ability to interact in a spontaneous way; look how well this discussion went.
Lets do the numbers. Once this discussion got under way many blogs, mine included (ionarts.org) posted about it, sending their readers to it. I bet this turned in a more diverse and possibly larger audience than any daily could ever imagine. Now that's comforting.

Posted by: Mark Barry at May 17, 2006 4:57 AM

To be sure, paring your info/opinion sources down to a single informant, as did the head mafioso in "Goodfellas" (that little guy who came to his apartment once a day with the reliable--under pain of getting whacked--goods), is a) impractical and b) inadvisable. But there is something to be said for filtering arts journalism through, at least, an editor. Not for censorial purposes, but to squeeze out the water, minimize the bullshit, temper the invective, reign in the self-indulgence, and, as an editor friend of mine said was the best editing advice ever given to him, "put everything about one thing in once place." Most blogs, alas, only bolster the case for editing. Then there's the matter of there still being only 24 hours in a day and of (my, at least) being able to read only so much prose during them. Not that one should give credence only to a bylined piece in a major daily, but rather that reading dozens of blogs in the hope of discovering some trenchant criticism is like going 'round to artists' studios in Brooklyn, street by street, hoping to find some good art. Possible, but the odds are even longer than spending a whole Saturday at the galleries in Chelsea. I read Tyler Green's MAN and a couple of others, but mostly I confine myself to selective hard copy, Mark Kostabi's advice column at artnet.com, and very proscribed probings on a search engine. Otherwise, it's too much of a crapshoot.

Posted by: Peter Plagens at May 17, 2006 1:21 PM

Tell A Friend

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):