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NY Magazine - firing Tobi Tobias


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 10:01 AM

I agree with your last statement, Calliope (about not getting the difference between press and review). But I think Miller's latest response shows where the thinking comes from -- it has nothing to do with economic difficulties and everything to do with the perception that dance doesn't matter and there aren't enough readers who care about dance.

On your question about recitals, apparently it is extremely difficult to determine statistically what's professional and what is not in the dance field: there's no agreed upon definition. There are a lot of professionals who work for little or no money -- in peforming, this is especially true, of course, in modern dance. Choreogrpahes may not receive fees for their work, etc. etc. etc.

But from an editor's point of view, I'd be just as happy to have as a reader the parents of a four-year-old whose school has a dance recital as I would someone who only attends performances by the major companies, or the minor ones -- or never goes at all, but just dances. Who cares? As long as they're interested in dance.

#17 Alexandra

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Posted 06 August 2002 - 08:24 AM

Flash! Another new form response from Caroline Miller at New York Magazine:

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. As you have observed, every publication in America, like every arts organization, has had to make painful decisions 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; it doesn't mean that we're not serious about dance and other arts in the city. Like all organisms, magazines need to keep evolving, developing new voices and new approaches.

--------------------------------------

comment by A.T.:

So cutting reviews is a "new approach?" Surely that's been tried :) And if the links and previews are being written by writers already on staff -- and already doing the links and previews -- then how is that "developing new voices"? I can't resist this dig, that Tobias's voice was already quite developed when she went to NYMag, and there has been no indication that this move was to replace her -- quite the opposite. Eliminating Tobias was because they were eliminating dance reviews.

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for that tidbit, Patricia. I'm sure many more people ARE interested in Heather McC than Mark Morris or the Diamond Project, just as there are more people who buy McCartney's CD's than Beethoven's. But music is still covered!

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 11:36 AM

I just received an email forwarded to me from someone who's on the Dance/USA mailing list, that included the following paragraphs:

As you may have heard, New York Magazine announced last week that it fired its dance critic, Tobi Tobias, and will no longer review dance. Dance/NYC has organized a national letter-writing campaign to the magazine protesting this most ill-considered move.  New York Magazine has a very large  nationwide subscription base, so this is an issue affecting not just New York City, but cultural coverage and criticism across the country, sending an unfortunate message about the value of dance criticism to periodicals and newspapers everywhere.  

In addition to individuals and dance organizations in New York City, those taking part in the campaign thus far are: The Field; Dance Theater Workshop; Alliance of Resident Theaters/NY (theater); Theater Communications Group (theater-national);  The Arts & Business Council; the New York Coalition for the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; New England Foundation for the Arts; Career Transitions for Dancers; IATSE (stagehands); AGMA; and SSDC (Directors & Choreographers), among others.



So if you hear that this is an issue of interest to only a handful of people, that's a good list to cite :)

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 01:20 PM

Yes, it is depressing, and I think this is why the New York mag case has caused such an uproar. Always before, dance was cut back. But not cut out.

I don't think it's a lack of space. It's that They don't think dance matters. And that's why all the dance organizations have jumped on this one.

Repeating part of a prior post, since it's now on page 3 of this thread, and those clicking on now may not go back and see it, according to Dance/USA, the following have joined in an email/letter writing campaign to New York Magazine re the cutting of dance reviews: "The Field; Dance Theater Workshop; Alliance of Resident Theaters/NY (theater); Theater Communications Group (theater-national); The Arts & Business Council; the New York Coalition for the Arts; New York Foundation for the Arts; New England Foundation for the Arts; Career Transitions for Dancers; IATSE (stagehands); AGMA; and SSDC (Directors & Choreographers), among others."

#21 Alexandra

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 09:24 AM

New York Magazine isn't the only thing that's evolving. Here's the form responses I know of, in order. Changes in bold.

Form Response #1: 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 community. 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.

Form Response #2: 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.

Form Response #3: 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. As you have observed, every publication in America, like every arts organization, has had to make painful decisions 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; it doesn't mean that we're not serious about dance and other arts in the city. Like all organisms, magazines need to keep evolving, developing new voices and new approaches.

A response received over the past weekend #4: Despite what seems to be going around the dance world, we are not discontinuing dance coverage in New York magazine. It's true that we decided not to renew Tobi Tobias's contract. We felt we needed a change, a new voice or critical approach that would broaden the audience for our dance coverage, which is at this point a tiny percentage of our readers. (If you want to attract new audiences to dance, rather than just talk to veterans and insiders, you have to innovate.) In the short term, until we find the right voice, we'll continue to run previews, listings and features by other writers.

Response #5: Despite what you have heard going around the dance world, we are not discontinuing our dance coverage. It's true that we did decide not to renew Tobi Tobias's contract. We felt it was time for a change. But we will be looking for a new voice, and in the meantime will make sure the bases are covered in previews, listings and features by other writers. Like all magazines-and all arts organizations-we're facing a tighter budget, and must husband our resources carefully. But we are not abandoning the dance community or any other of the arts communities in New York

#22 Alexandra

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 09:41 AM

I agree, dirac. I'd vote for the indefinite search for a new voice -- surely they'll all forget about this by spring, won't they?

I did speak with Tobi Tobias when this started and the first thing I asked her was, do you think they're replacing you. She had asked the same thing and was told no.

Replacing Tobias at this stage would make Miller seem either unbelievably petty -- bad bad writer for daring to go public with being fired! -- or fuel the rumors (which I personally do not believe, but which keep surfacing) that certain organizations put pressure on the magazine to get rid of Tobias because of her negative reviews.

Either way, everyone loses in this.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 01:26 PM

Thanks, Estelle. I posted something that had been sent to me without checking it, and have changed the posts a bit now.

I like your suggestions for further responses!

If dance were anything else, another magazine *would* have hired Tobias instantly. But it's not, and it's not because the people who run publishing do not have dance on their radar screens. It's not important to them, and they assume it's not important to anyone else.

#24 Alexandra

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 01:40 PM

Robert Gottlieb has written about the New York Magazine situation in the Observer. Someone sent me this link I haven't been able to access the site -- I get a connection refused message (5, 5:30 p.m. EST) but we may have better luck later.

For then:

Robert Gottlieb in the current NY Observer on the dismissal of Tobi Tobias
et al.

http://www.observer....pages/dance.asp

#25 Alexandra

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 02:52 PM

Thanks for that, Rachel -- I still got a "connection refused" message. We can only hope that it's because thousands of angry dance fans are trying to click on Gottlieb's article! :)

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 05:51 PM

Have others -- besides Ari and Rachel, obviously -- been able to access this link? I have been steadfastly unable to using Netscape, but did get through using Internet Explorer.

I thought Gottlieb's piece was rather brave (and, of course, I agree with him). I think truth and justice do matter, and I'm glad Miller has been called, publicly, on the shifting sands of her response and explanation for this.

I'm very glad that Elizabeth Zimmer at the Voice has offered Tobias space, but it's not the same thing. It will be shared space, and her pieces will be not quite as visible and, more important, there will be no dance criticism in one of the major magazines which purports to cover the New York "scene." So from this week, any Big Apple Newcomer, or teen coming of age on the magazine stand, will not even have a glimmer that dance might interest him, or might be important.

I thought Gottlieb's take on this quite fine, especially this quote:

As for Ms. Tobias, she will undoubtedly find other places to write about dance. But the issue isn’t personal. Every art form needs educated and uncompromising criticism to keep itself honest. Eliminating a major voice from an important venue—either for budgetary reasons or to bring in someone trendier—is not merely a dance-world scandal, it’s a dark comment on the priorities of today’s journalism.



#27 atm711

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 02:38 PM

I subscribe to 'New York Magazine' for two reasons:

l. I am hooked on their puzzle.

2. Tobi Tobias, my favorite NYC critic.

I , too, shall e-mail the Magazine.

#28 cargill

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 11:48 AM

I am sure I was like so many other people, looking through the dictionary for synonyms to shocking, and polite ways of saying ignorant decision! I expect ad revenues are down, but it is very depressing. Wonderful though specialized magazines are, it is so important for general interest magazines to have a broad coverage.

#29 dirac

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 01:12 PM

Well, I have written, although I did not issue a threat to cancel my subscription, as I do read the magazine for much else besides dance. However, I did express myself in strong terms similar to those expressed by others before me, although not nearly so eloquently. Okay, cut back if you have to (although that would be bad enough), but eliminate coverage entirely? It is genuinely appalling.


However, I would add that if you're not subscribing or buying newsstand copies, but only checking out the Internet freebies, your voice will not carry a great deal of weight. It's a very tough environment for magazines and newspapers right now, and if you're not buying, you're not helping. Newspapers such as the Washington Post, to take only one example, are sinking millions into their Web sites, with not much in the way of financial return, as of yet.


I hope The New Yorker takes note of this and picks up a little of the slack. I must say I've been disturbed by the shrinkage in that magazine's dance coverage. It has a much wider national reach than New York, and out-of-town subscribers are getting a more sharply limited view of the dance scene than they used to. I suppose it would be asking too much for them to bring in another critic, as the magazine has often done for theatre and film, for example. But it would be nice if it did, if Acocella has other things to do. Goodness knows there seem to be increasing numbers available.......

#30 dirac

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 11:30 AM

From Newsday, an item on Primedia's sale of Chicago magazine. Primedia is New York's parent company and has serious debt problems. This article also discusses rumors of a sale of New York. It notes that the magazine seems to be surviving well in the current economic environment:




http://www.newsday.c.....usiness-print


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