Camille LeFevre on teaching and writing arts journalism

The Wild West of Arts Journalism

Since launching this blog last week, I’ve received enthusiastic feedback and intriguing commentary on what this blog could be or become. Who knows? It’s an experiment, an exploration, an investigation into arts journalism for the 21st century.

As Doug McLennan said in this 2009 article (http://www.miller-mccune.com/media/will-critique-work-for-food-3878), “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be an arts journalist. We’re in a sort of Wild West of invention.”

To be a working arts journalist today–especially a freelance one–you need to continually move, adapt, rethink, reconsider, integrate and innovate. Like the artists and arts groups we cover, we need to continually assess what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and whether our work is relevant. “For arts groups, constant shapeshifting is a crucial means for survival. Applying it to arts coverage isn’t far behind,” as Christopher Blank said in this 2003 article (http://www.poynter.org/uncategorized/18407/taking-the-tweed-out-of-the-arts-journalism-wardrobe).

So: in the coming months, this blog may begin to:

*Include criticism, reviews and articles on the arts. Should this be only my own writing, or work from others as well? Would any foundations or arts organizations be willing to fund arts journalism on this blog? Should the blog accept advertising? How do we define conflicts of interest in the Wild West of Arts Journalism? Talk to me.

* Integrate arts, academia, entertainment and popular culture. As some of you know, one of my academic areas of study is dance and the transformative body in science fiction film and television. I’m eager to write about “Black Swan” and the rigors of ballet training, ballet and insanity from  “The Red Shoes” to “Black Swan,” the erotic in ballet’s fairy tales, were-swans and automatons in ballet. Curious?

* Investigate the ever-blurring lines between promotion (pr) and reporting/criticism. I do both. And the firewalls are constantly shifting. How old-school are you? As long as one provides complete disclosure and transparency, is any combination possible?

Whatever this blog morphs into, I’m committed to open, integrative explorations of art in relation to everyday life, the world and the contexts in which art is created. I’m also committed to the development of the next generation of arts journalists.

“Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism,” Clay Shirky wrote here in 2009 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/apr/13/internet-newspapers-clay-shirky). He added, “No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the journalism we need.”

Let’s experiment together. I look forward to your comments.


December 6, 2010 - Posted by | The Wild West of Arts Journalism

1 Comment »

  1. All right, Camille! I’m glad you’re doing this, providing a place for public thought about talk about art. It is important. I’ve been part of the Minnesota art world off and on for something like 30 years and seen how the vicissitudes of arts journalism have given wings to or hobbled the practices of artists. If you do a show and no one makes a sound, it can feel like it never happened.

    Also, art is worth as much as people who didn’t make it think it’s worth–without critique, this is pretty hard to figure out, and it ends up being worth very little. Talk can literally create value around art–it’s like printing money! Art critics = Ben Bernanke.

    Comment by Ann Klefstad | December 15, 2010 | Reply

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