NY Magazine - firing Tobi Tobias
Posted 06 August 2002 - 08:41 AM
Posted 13 August 2002 - 01:24 PM
Ms Miller's answers really aren't consistent: first it was about "painful choices" and "limited resources", and then about "time for a change", "new voice" and "broadening their audience". What next: "I heard some voices in my sleep telling me to fire Tobi Tobias?" "some men in black with big guns told me to do so?" "In order to broaden our audience, we've decided to hire Britney Spears as a dance critic, and to publish photographs of naked dancers?" It sounds as if she considers the readers who complained as a bit stupid... (and the paragraph about "having to innovate" really made me quite angry).
It's a pity that there aren't other similar magazines willing to broaden the audience for their dance coverage by *hiring* Ms Tobias...
Posted 31 July 2002 - 07:14 AM
There's an archive of Tobias's New York magazine pieces at http://www.nymag.com...e.cfm?cat_id=11
A quick check of her pieces shows that she covered a broad variety of dance, including a lot of the smaller modern dance companies that don't get much coverage.
Posted 30 July 2002 - 05:15 PM
Dear Colleagues & Friends,
I am sorry to have to tell you that, for budgetary reasons, New York magazine has decided to discontinue its dance column.
Tobias's last column, on the Kirov, will run -- presumably next week. To be clear, she will not be replaced. They are cutting dance reviews.
This is MY request to all Ballet Alertniks, NOT Tobias's: If any of you are concerned about this -- whether you are, or are not, a fan of Tobi Tobias's criticism, but if you care that the New York dance scene has a diversity of voices writing about it -- please email your concerns to the editor
Posted 31 July 2002 - 07:45 AM
I'm still stunned by this -- and very alarmed. The Voice has been cutting back dance space. Clive Barnes in the NYPost is reduced to three and four-sentence reviews -- and kudos to Mr. Barnes for hanging in there, and squeezing something of value into those three or four sentences. Joan Acocella does not write very often about dance in the New Yorker -- they're always interesting pieces, but the magazine does not offer comprehensive coverage.
That reduces the New York dance scene to two papers -- the NYTimes, which is also cutting back coverage, not always covering cast changes -- appalling for "the paper of record" and Robert Greskovic in the Wall Street Journal. (Along with the short reviews in the Voice and Barnes' mini-reviews.)
I suppose I'm struck even more by this because of two factors: the Net has made me more aware of the richness of criticism in London. There are eight critics writing on a daily or weekly basis in newspapers, and they have Dance Now, Dancing Times, and Dance Europe -- and is Dance Express still running? Now, there's a city. Teeny little New York. There's Ballet Review. Even Dance Mag moved out of town. What's going on there?
Secondly, because I just spent ten years researching a dancer's career, I'm keenly aware of the need for a diversity of voices. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were 8 critics in CHICAGO, much less New York. When you have that many views, you can begin to get an accurate picture of a dancer, or a ballet. If all eight think one thing, that's a clue. If the eight split 3-3-2 (love, hate, dunno) that's another, and if that 3-3-2 split stays, you can see a pattern: this one really will never like modern dance, this one hates ballet, this one only likes blond(e)s, etc.
Who would want to write a history of the period from about 1980 to the present I can't imagine, but if they do, good luck. They'll need a medium to connect to the spirit world to get enough opinions upon which to make a judgment.
Posted 31 July 2002 - 08:46 AM
Posted 31 July 2002 - 09:04 AM
Posted 31 July 2002 - 09:57 AM
Thank you, BW. I think if a lot of subscribers wrote -- or people who buy the magazine weekly when there's a dance review in it, which is what I've done, or those of you outside of New York who access it by the net. That might mean something to them. At least they will know that DANCE MATTERS.
Posted 01 August 2002 - 03:10 PM
I think her points can be debated and intend to do so. It seems that what they're doing is cutting a freelancer (so how much could she make? I write this as a freelancer) and limiting the dance coverage to listings and a few previews -- what we in the trade call "puff pieces."
While preview pieces are valuable in alerting ticketbuyers to what's coming up, I think dance fans, like sports fans, want to read about how the game turned out.
Again, Ms. Miller's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the letter.
Dear Ms. Tomalonis,
Thanks for your letter about our dance coverage. It's true that I decided
not to renew Tobi's contract. In these difficult times, every publication
in America has had to make painful choices, focusing limited resources on
work that best serves its readers. While I have valued Tobi's contribution
to the magazine, I believe that, for the time being, the best way we can
provide ongoing coverage of dance is in other parts of the magazine.
This doesn't mean we don't consider dance worthy of coverage, or that we are going to abandon the dance ommunity. We will continue to cover dance in previews, listings and features by other staff members. Dance will be included in the upcoming Fall Preview issue, as usual, and we have a feature on Mark Morris coming up later in the fall.
Posted 02 August 2002 - 06:49 AM
I've gotten phonecalls and emails constantly for the past two days -- presenters, funders, dancers, dance lovers and critics. All said they have written, there are two print articles I know of in the works -- there's a brief mention in the LATimes this morning, but I couldn't access it. (It's a site where you have to register and I kept getting a "we're having trouble processing this, try back later" message).
The DanceInsider piece points out that this has been coming for years -- Tobias' coverage has been cut back substantially over the past decade, as has Deborah Jowitt's in the Village Voice.
This is a good time to let these magazines know that we are out here and we care what they print. So please, don't be shy
Posted 02 August 2002 - 08:47 AM
What's exciting about this is that I think the dance community -- the presenters, the dancers, the company managers -- who have been gritting their teeth for the past 20 years about the dearth of coverage of dance, saying, "Of course, we understand. Times are tough." (During the '90s bubble????) "But could you please possibly cover the world premiere of our new work? Oh, thank you so much. Of course, we understand you couldn't begin to consider a preview," etc etc. They can't complain about little coverage because of fear of even less coverage as a "punishment" for daring to question the judgment of the accountants -- I'm sorry. I mean editors. BUT they can scream about no coverage. And they are screaming.
What I hope is that this will carry over to other publications. It's time that dance stood up and was counted. There is no basis for the assumption by many newspapers and magazines that there's no interest in dance. Dance USa has lots of statistics on this -- audience demographics, real numbers. Their favorite is that more people attend ballet performances than NFL games. The problem is that dance is not part of the world of most, if not all, editors and publishers.
Posted 02 August 2002 - 12:30 PM
One error in the LATimes article -- the word "reviews" appears; it should be "previews."
And the last sentence in the Miller quote in the LATimes is an addition; it's not in the reply the magazine is using to respond to emailers.
Calliope, I haven't had time to run down the latest figures today; the people I need to talk to are out of town. I'll try Monday. The last survey I remember reading was that dance attendance was up, but that was several years ago and things can change very quickly.
dirac, none of the people I've talked to or gotten messages from have mentioned personal opinions about Tobias or her writing -- to everyone's surprise, I think. Perhaps Dance Insider is antcipating, as many did, that there would be some who'd say "she slammed me, good riddance," but people seem to be looking at the larger issue.
I've also found over the years that Tobias is one of those critics -- Croce was another -- that artists loved to mutter about, until she gave them a good review. THEN the opinion changed (which is perfectlly natural) and this is another way of saying that Tobias is respected.
Posted 04 August 2002 - 11:30 AM
I'm going to move this over to the Books, Magazines and Critics thread. I'm also going to split off the letters that people have posted. Several people who aren't members here, and who, I think, are not accustomed to internet message boards, have sent me emails with copies of their letters to post, so I'll be doing that. People are checking the coverage here for updates.
I'd also like to emphasize that, although it's pretty obvious where I, and many others, stand on this issue, this, like any other topic, is open to discussion. If you think NYMagazine did the right thing -- please feel free to say so. And if you wish they'd reconsider and restore dance reviews to NYMagazine but think that your voice doesn't matter, it does. They're counting. 50 emails may not matter. 1,000 may well matter. So please write, if you haven't done so, or reply to Ms. Miller's letter, if you'd like to counter her points.
Posted 05 August 2002 - 08:19 AM
Thanks for your letter. It's true that we're not going to continue running Tobi's reviews, but, believe me, we are not abandoning dance coverage. We'll continue to run previews, listings and features, and are committed to making sure dance gets the attention it deserves, in every way we can. I know you're aware that every publication in America, like all arts organizations, has had to make painful descisions on how to deploy limited resources to give readers what they value most. This is something we feel we have to do at this point; nonetheless, as we go forward we'll continue to look for ways to support the dance community in the city.
Posted 05 August 2002 - 09:46 AM
I haven't been able to find anything to support this. DanceUSA, which keeps the numbers on dance in this country, has the following information on its website in the "Snap Facts" section (www.danceusa.org)
This is a quote from the web site:
Dance in America: Snapfacts 2000
Professional dance companies in America have a direct economic impact of over $350 million.
A study by the NEA in 1997 estimated that 35.6 million people attend dance performances.*
* This figure may include pre-professional performances and recitals.
There are about 675 professional dance companies in the USA.
Of these, 15 have budgets in excess of $5 million.
An estimated 55 to 65 have budgets between $1 million and $5 million.
About 12 to 14 of these are modern companies; the rest are ballet.
New York City has more dance companies -- slightly over 200 -- than any other metropolis.
But this number includes only 13 of the 70 - 80 companies with budgets over $1 million.
Dance is a relatively young "industry" in America.
In 1965, the NEA identified 37 professional dance companies in America.
Only 72 companies claim founding dates earlier than 1970.
The oldest companies are the Metropolitan Opera Ballet (1895),
the Martha Graham Company (1926), the Atlanta Ballet (1929),
and the San Francisco Ballet (1933).
[emphasis added by A.T.; though these figures are from September 2000, and the NEA survey was from 1997, there has not been a major survey since that date, as far as I know. - A.T.]
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