Saturday, October 03, 2009

New directions for arts journalism online

Yesterday the National Arts Journalism Program convened a four-hour online conference with, among other things, online arts-reporting projects in competition for grants.

During roundtable discussion, one of the more helpful reminders (from Bobo's POV) was the need for critics to balance a) being a fan of theater and b) being detached from it. My enthusiasm, in other words, needs not to flag and not to be directed at particular venues, directors or actors. Bobo serves the art form (sounds ridiculous/pretentious, I know), not consumers or particular practitioners.

More important: the conference (which can be viewed on archived videos) presented some cool ideas for how print can evolve to cover the arts in 21st-century ways. They included: new software for merging text, video, images and audio easily and seamlessly in the same document. An online communal storytelling site, in which entire neighborhoods tell their stories in a multimedia panorama. An online multimedia magazine. An aggregator that lists and recommends cultural events in six major cities. Websites that report on and evaluate a genre's regional scene (visual arts throughout Texas, classical music throughout the Bay Area).
Since Bobo completed the NEA's theater journalism program in L.A. back in Feb. '08, he gets to vote on the winning projects. Probably of only marginal interest to readers of arts writing, but -- changes are a-comin'.

In its small way, The Inlander is trying to add value beyond print: a revamped Website (yet again; yet again promised sometime in the next 2-4 months); and video previews of local plays, with director interviews and snippets of scenes in rehearsal.

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