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NY Magazine - firing Tobi Tobias


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#31 dirac

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 05:38 PM

While I'm not inclined to say anything favorable about New York right now, their website is free, and you can look up archived material -- some going back several years -- without charge. It's quite nice, as opposed to some other sites where you have to choke up three or four dollars for an article that turns out to be exactly what you didn't need.

I hope something can be done, but it doesn't look good, does it?

#32 dirac

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Posted 02 August 2002 - 09:23 AM

The Dance Insider piece is instructive. I note that the Ben-Itzak reminds dance people that "P.S: It's no secret that Tobi Tobias's dance criticism, which can be acid when she sees something she doesn't like, has rankled some dance artists. Please -- PLEASE -- don't let this deter you from supporting her and fighting to help her regain her podium." It's too bad that he felt impelled to do that -- that there are actually people out there who might say, "She slammed me, so good riddance," and not look at the larger issues.

#33 dirac

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 11:07 AM

It doesn't look from the revised message that Miller is backing down in any crucial respect. Interesting that her observation to the effect that no one's that interested in dance any more is not reiterated in the e-mail.

I don't think it's necessarily wrong for her to say that, as long as she has evidence to back it up. If there is such evidence, I wish she'd produce it.


However, even if it's true that interest in dance is diminishing, it seems to me that fact in itself would not warrant elimination of dance reviews. There are things that reputable papers and magazines believe they have to cover, even if they're not the items that draw the most eyeballs.

#34 dirac

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 12:48 PM

I don't think Heather M., or the Hot Argentine Polo Players also featured, are taking up the space previously occupied by Tobias. NY has always run those. More likely, the space will be used for more ads, puff items, and color spreads of cheese.

#35 dirac

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 09:36 AM

Hmm. This could mean that she's backing down, but trying to save face by refusing to rehire Tobias. Or it could mean that she's trying to get people off her back by promising to look for "a new voice," a search that, theoretically,could go on indefinitely until people forget about the whole thing.



I'm very sorry for Tobias. First, she's cut loose as financial deadweight; then the story changes and she's getting dumped for a "new voice." Either way, Miller is making it clear that she's not getting her job back.

#36 Nanatchka

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 01:07 PM

I don't think that there is a block of space being traded--one thing for another, although that can happen. I think there is a block of space that vanished, which also happens. It's very unsettling. For instance, the dance paragraphs (larger and longer than listings) in the New Yorker got disappeared. The Performing Arts Preview of the Atlantic Monthly disappeared. Stagebill disappeared. It's very depressing.

#37 Manhattnik

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 10:30 AM

Here's my two-cents worth:

I have read with tremendous sadness and astonishment of New York Magazine's apparent decision to drop dance coverage. For years, in giving Tobi Tobias a voice, New York Magazine has not just chronicled the development of an art form which has, more than any other, built its greatest achievements here in New York City, but has also been a discerning and important arbiter of those achievements.

It has never been more important than now to celebrate, cherish and, yes, husband our city's great cultural bounty, as Tobias has done so well, for so long. Shall the works of George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and Mark Morris (or the hundreds of less well-known dance artists whom Tobias and your magazine gave acknowledgment and legitimacy) exist no more for the readers of New York Magazine?

In relieving yourself of Tobias, and dance as a whole, you are doubtless saving yourself a few dollars, but it's not without a cost, both to your readers and to the cultural life of the city whose name you have so proudly (but with a waning legitimacy) claimed for your own. You've also relieved yourself of at least one reader.

I devoutly hope that New York Magazine will reconsider this unfortunate decision.

Sincerely,

#38 Ari

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Posted 02 August 2002 - 08:33 AM

Here's the item from the LA Times. It's short enough to reprint in its entirety.

New York Magazine Drops Dance Column

Tobi Tobias, dance writer at New York magazine for the past 22 years, got a call from editor in chief Caroline Miller Tuesday night advising her that her column was being phased out.

It's not that she's being replaced by "someone cuter," the columnist said Thursday. She's just the latest victim of economics, in which the arts--and dance, in particular--are increasingly seen as expendable.

"New York City is a mecca for dance--and there are so few slots where dance is being covered in a steady and serious way," Tobias said. "Companies and artists--not just the people who report on them--are trying to find and retain an audience. Dance is seen as the 'orphan' art since its appeal is narrower than the others. Still, it needs to have its place."

Tobias has received a couple of dozen phone calls and nearly 100 e-mails since word got out. But the decision, it seems, is final.

"While we value Tobi's contribution, I decided not to renew her contract," Miller said. "But we're not abandoning dance. At least for the time being, we'll cover it through listings, features and reviews written by other staff people. In these difficult times, every publication in America has to make painful decisions about how to use limited resources in a way that best serves the readers. And it's no surprise to anyone that the audience for dance has diminished."

#39 Ari

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 05:12 PM

The news has also been posted on a message board devoted to theater by someone who read it on this site (she linked to this thread). I posted a reply giving Caroline Miller's e-mail address, so there will be additional protests from people whose interest in dance is show-oriented. There seemed to be interest, based on the responses to the initial post.

#40 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 06:25 PM

Here's my letter - I urge other people to write. One less voice, one less venue for coverage is a damaging thing.

Dear Ms. Miller:

I'm very sad to hear of your magazine's decision to discontinue dance coverage by Tobi Tobias.  Her reviews were the reason I read the magazine and visited the website; I have much less reason to do either without them.  Not only was her writing incisive but the coverage of an important part of New York's cultural life stated an important truth: New Yorkers don't just watch TV, they go to the theater, the opera and dance performances.  It's sad to think that you've decided that not enough people are interested to justify coverage.  Count me as one reader for whom that was the main reason I read New York Magazine with pleasure.

I hope you will reconsider this sad, and I think misguided, decision.



#41 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 01:41 PM

Patricia -

I have a feeling NYCB had nothing to do with it - good reviews or bad, it was press, and now, this is one more place in which NYCB will not get covered at all. Controversy or even bad press is far better for New York City Ballet than irrelevance.

#42 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 August 2002 - 08:55 AM

OK, what is going on here?

This represents a significant change in their story and I think they should be called on it.

#43 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 06:06 PM

It took two tries, but I got it (using AOL's browser). The article is interesting for both the Tobias comments and his take on both the Trocks and Cunningham.

#44 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 August 2002 - 02:53 PM

Alexandra, FWIW, my favorite magazine and newspaper shop in D.C., One Stop, 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, (202) 872-1577, says they carry Time Out New York and currrently have the lst-8th August issue. They're open until 9 tonight, if you're in a hurry. (I thought I'd seen it there; leave it to the tourists to tell the locals where things are, eh? Just kidding, of course.)

#45 AmandaNYC

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Posted 07 August 2002 - 09:35 AM

Thanks, Calliope. I look forward to reading the article tonight, should my issue arrive on time.

In my letter to Ms. Miller, in addition to talking about NY as the center of dance and the need for continued critical coverage, I did bring up the issue of not always agreeing with Tobias' criticism. I stressed that as an additional reason I was so upset to lose her column. I talked about how I had learned a great deal from reading her reviews because she often saw things differently, offering me a different viewpoint, experience, and background... And, b/c she is such a strong writer, unlike those at another periodical, where the reviews are poorly written and barely critical (I cited the paper by name in the letter).

-amanda


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