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Newspapers coverage of arts vs. entertainment


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#1 Calliope

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 09:05 AM

Apparently the NY Times is changing it's coverage, slightly.
Any writers have any comments?

Personally, I think they barely cover the ballet scene enough. The less than 100 word reviews are inadequate and read more as promotional (at times).




http://news.independ...sp?story=280899



"According to a phrase picked up last week by the entertainment journal Variety, Mr Raines has expressed a desire to see "less Peking Opera, and more Britney Spears". Apparently, he finds the Sunday Arts & Leisure section, with its lengthy ruminations on porcelain, ballet technique and Upper West Side beaux-arts collectors, as well as its essays on the movies and its rendering of the cultural gossip of the moment, to be "boring". It's something he intends to remedy when he replaces John Rockwell, the solid, well-respected Arts & Leisure editor who announced his departure in December."

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 09:11 AM

Not good news for ballet. (I love it that the assumption is that the fine arts are "boring". To whom?) I think people have been braced for something like this since Rothwell announced his departure.

#3 dancermom2

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 06:52 PM

That is a sad commentary on what is considered "entertainment". Entertainment for whom? The NY Times is the only NYC paper that covers what I consider the fine arts of opera and ballet and art as in Old Master paintings and shows at Moma and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other NY newspapers (NY Post, Newsday and the Daily News) could care less and I have never seen them talk about ballet. It's as if the only entertainment that exists is entertainment aka Hollywood and MTV. So much for adult reviews of adult entertainment. What adult sees Britney anyway?

#4 Calliope

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 05:41 AM

Not to defend them completely, but the other NY papers do cover the ballet scene, the Post with Clive Barnes covers a bit more than Newsday and the Daily News (which generally do only choreographic debuts and opening nights for ABT and NYCB)

#5 Dale

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 06:25 AM

Barnes' reviews are quite short and, although Gold does do some reviews for Newsday, I don't believe the NY Daily News has had many ballet reviews since Terry Teachout left.

Maybe if the NYTimes subscribers here wrote in, they might (though probably not) re-think this decision. It's sad.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 08:28 AM

PLEASE if this change in attitude upsets you write in. Get your families to write in, and the neighbors across the hall. You can do it by email on the NYTimes site -- no need to hunt for a stamp.

This change in direction is also troubling because, as the article points out, the Times does set a standard. There are other papers who have been edging in this direction for years but haven't dared dump the high arts because they don't want to look like yahoos. If the Times goes Britney, it's giving the rest of the industry permission to be yahoos.

#7 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 08:54 AM

I think this article overstates what the changes will be, before backtracking and saying things won't be so bad after all. I don't know who Andrew Gumbel is, but one of the sins of his piece is misrepresenting the columns of Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich. Both are certainly hip to pop culture, but they are also utterly serious commentators. You can be amusing and serious at the same time. I'm tired of seeing the Times referred to as "the good gray Times." It hasn't been that in many years. I thought only the NY Post failed to realize that.

And if I can put in a good word for the Daily News, albeit the News of an earlier day: in November of 1989, the News was the only New York daily to mark Suzanne's farewell performance with an EDITORIAL! It was a beautiful piece, very touching, and obviously written by someone who knew ballet. I wonder where that editorial writer is now.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 09:02 AM

Farrell Fan, the comments on Dowd and Rich might make more sense if one sees them from a journalist's perspective. There's a line between serious news and pop culture that has been crossed, and once it is crossed, it becomes easier and easier to cross it. Newscasts also report on serious news, but devote hours to The Missing Intern, or other "people features" instead of reporting on what the **** is going on in the Middle East.

I think one of the roles of critics (in any field) is to see these warning signs and sound an alert. Because they have a broad overview of the field, they often see them before the rest of us. The problem with writing one pop piece is that, in today's era of The Marketeer, they'll do the numbers very rapidly. Putting Madonna on the cover of Time sells more copies than putting Arafat or Sharon on the cover. Writing a commentary for fun on a pop culture subject and soon you'll be directed to write more of them. And so it goes.

When Entertainment Tonight first went on the air, I read many editorials about what this would mean to television news. I thought they had overreacted. I was wrong :(

#9 Calliope

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 11:05 AM

I remember when Joffrey did "Billboards" to a score/music by Prince (or the artist formerly known as...) and I thought it was such a sellout, not literally, but in terms of trying to bring ballet up to a pop culture status.

I'm always saddened that in this country more people know that Britney Spears broke up with her boyfriend, than know what's going on in the Middle East.

#10 Tancos

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 11:26 AM

The New Criterion's take on the matter:

http://www.newcriter...tes.htm#britney

#11 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 12:08 PM

I find myself in the position of seeming to defend less coverage of ballet and the Peking Opera and more uncoverage of Britney Spears. I'm not doing that. I would like to point out, though, that in the original posting, the "less Peking Opera, more Britney Spears" remark was attributed to Howell Raines, the Executive Editor of the Times. In The New Criterion piece, it's credited to "an unnamed Times reporter." Is it possible somebody made it up? To me it has a somewhat apocryphal ring. As for the dumbing down of the Times, I know when that began -- when art critic Hilton Kramer left, or was let go, I'm not sure which. Fortunately, he went on to found The New Criterion.

#12 Calliope

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 12:55 PM

Maybe they should just create a whole new section entitled "pop culture" and make everyone happy.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 01:49 PM

Calliope, I think you're on to something there. I have no problem at all with coverage of pop culture as long as they leave the rest of culture alone :D

#14 Calliope

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 01:54 PM

believe or not Madonna said "there is nothing cultural about pop" whether she meant pop music or pop cultural, still seems the same.
though I admit to being of a generation that loves pop culture! and ballet, I just know the difference.

#15 dirac

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 04:19 PM

Thanks for this link, Calliope. It's interesting that Gumbel praises the "Watching Movies with..." series, which Raines is discontinuing on the grounds that they're too close to puff pieces for the movie people, not serious enough. And that "The Talented Mr. Ripley" piece is Gumbel's idea of high cultural coverage? I'm with Farrell Fan on the wording of the Britney Spears quote -- it sounds just a little too pat. Raines just arrived as executive editor, he's shaking things up, people are going to get unhappy and leak to other papers about it.

The Times is confronting a declining and aging readership, as are all newspapers, and it may be trying to reach beyond the older upscale types who are reading those articles about the Peking Opera and porcelain. That's not a dishonorable objective, if that is in fact the case. Obviously I've no desire to read more about Britney Spears, but I don't want to say that pop culture is beyond the pale or not worthy of equal time. Gumbel complains about Dowd and Rich; does anyone but me recall the days when the Times' editorial page was the place where senile executive editors went to babble away their dotage? (The far from senile Joseph Lelyveld is currently gracing the pages of The New York Review of Books, I'm pleased to note.) Does he want to bring back the golden days of Flora Lewis, the aging Reston, and the ineffable A.M. Rosenthal? Pleeze.

Rockwell notes that he was once a rock critic. If I recall correctly from the Fong-Torres/Bangs/Marsh/Marcus era, the other rock critics regarded him as pretty much of a joke.

Calliope, if the Times adds one more new section, I've had it. I just received a letter with my Sunday Times, explaining that they are adding even more feature-type sections on this day and that day. I think this just means more full color photographs of focaccia, arugula salad, and interior decor -- that is, advertiser friendly features. Well, even the Times has to live, I guess. :D


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