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Newspapers coverage of arts vs. entertainment


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#16 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."

#17 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)

#18 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.

#19 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.

#20 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.

#21 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.

#22 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.

#23 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?

#24 Guest_fiafour_*

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Posted 06 April 2002 - 12:38 PM

I have often heard that it is best to write the advertisers instead of the actually paper. (This goes also for complaining to television stations.) They papers and stations often won't care what you think, BUT ADVERTISERS DO.

If you start writing advertisers that you are upset with the change. They will start to realize that their ads are going to reach less people and they will start to pull their slots. The papers will then realize to keep their funding they need to please you.

#25 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 05 April 2002 - 12:29 AM

I stand with dirac and Farrell Fan (full disclosure: a personal friend, though we often disagree) in resisting the trend to panic.

A bit of context might be useful here. Only three daily newspapers seek national readership: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. The Times stands third in circulation, and views (for obvious reasons) the Journal as its main rival. The Journal has unveiled this week a sweeping re-design, including more emphasis on service features -- "news you can use" in consultant-speak -- and stories about entertainment and recreation. ERGO, the Times seeks to respond with its own added emphasis on service features. The "Dining In/Dining Out" section, for instance, now covers restaurant news from across the country and offers less dish for New York foodies. Friday will bring a regular section on week-end travel. And on and on....

In such a context, it's not surprising to see editors pressing for more prominent coverage of popular culture in the Sunday paper which, after all, provides nearly all of the paper's profits. (Almost every American paper breaks even during the week and makes its profits on Sunday. The Wall Street Journal is the obvious exception, and the Times would love to press this advantage.)

At the same time, I am sure that Howell Raines, like every other senior editor at the paper, cherishes its role as "the newspaper of record." In this context, I am sure that the paper's policy will continue to be to review every dance performance in any major venue, or even a minor venue with a good press agent and good timing. It does keep three full-time critics on its payroll, it does pay to send them to major events around the world, and it pays stringers to write up events that staff critics can't get to.

Are there delays in publishing? Are reviews short? Are there a gazillion demands for space in the paper? Do editors have to make cuts to balance all those competing demands? Is a 300-word review better than no review at all? Given the quotes I have seen in programs and publicity, that 300-word review may serve an emerging dancer or choreographer quite well, thank you.

Finally, let me note that, as our local public radio station slashes its classical music programming (half the surviving music airs after midnight), the Times' WQXR-FM continues to air classical music 24/7. Yes, the programming is conservative and the ads are annoying, but it's the only place you'll hear Bach in the morning. More to the point, if the Times wanted to "maximize shareholder returns," they would have gone to a news-talk format years ago. Their persistence with a commercially outdated format convinces me, at least, that the Times would rather be classy than crass, even if it means reduced profits. And even if it means sending Anna Kisslegoff on yet another trip to Paris and St. Petersburg.

#26 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 05 April 2002 - 12:53 AM

A note to Kathleen O'Connell, from a long-time advertising professional:

In covering the arts and lifestyle issues, the WSJ is seeking to make itself the "primary read" of its customers. In other words, by providing this sort of coverage, they are hoping to increase reliance on their paper and reduce the time their readers spend with other sources -- like, say, The New York Times, or the dominant daily in any other city. The Journal would dearly love to make those other papers "secondary reads" -- i.e. newspapers that get much less attention and therefore command less lucrative ad rates. For most of its history, the Journal itself was the "secondary read," of interest only to investors and executives.

It's also true that, as the business world admits more and more women to its top ranks, "feminine" concerns like arts and recreation are becoming more important in corporate decisions. Stereotypical as this may sound, it was a woman who created "Weekend Journal," which has been a huge commercial success, and she has been the leader of the re-design team.

Finally, you flunked the "frequently misspelled words" test. It's "minuscule."

#27 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 05 April 2002 - 07:27 PM

Kathleen O'Connell really brings this whole discussion to its logical conclusion: in this age of proliferating media, "The Newspaper of Record" is less important than ever.

Still and all, it's nice to know that some mention of every dance performance in New York City will make it into the stacks (real or electronic) of every major library in the world.

In my disquistion on the media, I also forgot to mention that Newsday is also making a new run at Times readers. Clearly, success is its own punishment.

As for "minuscule," I must apologize if I sounded petty or vindictive. Seeing even a minor mistake in a message so elegantly composed and persuasively argued brought out my inner William Safire. I promise to chain him in the dungeon from now on, and sincerely regret any embarrassment I might have caused.

#28 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 06 April 2002 - 08:51 PM

If I may briefly invoke my years in the ad game (and my upbringing in the home of a Procter & Gamble executive), I'd point out that some advertisers are more sensitive than others, depending mostly on the paths available to reach their audiences.

MacDonald's, which can use any mass medium, will send its own inpectors to meat plants in response to consumer complaints. Film, theatre, and book advertisers, who *MUST* be in the Times to satisfy their various constituencies, are much less responsive. Indeed, many movie, theatre, and book contracts actually require a certain amount of ads in the paper, so letters in this area are likely to fall on deaf press agents.

With ad rates far too expensive for most dance companies to buy more than a tiny announcement, the dance world has little leverage here. After all, where can they reach so many prospective audience members?


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