A couple of weeks ago, I put up a post that outlined cuts to the local arts coverage.
It’s happening all over again. This week, Jerry Wasserman, a local theatre critic that writes for Vancouver’s Province newspaper, had this on his website:
Sad to report that after four excellent years Jerry will no longer be reviewing theatre for The Province newspaper. Canwest/Global, like Canada’s other media conglomerates, has been hit really hard by the recession. Struggling to stave off bankruptcy, Canwest is radically cost-cutting in all its divisions. Freelancers are among the first to go. This is an unfortunate situation for Vancouver’s arts community in that it loses one of the major venues in the region for formal theatre reviews. Arts and entertainment editor Carey Gillette wants the community to know that The Province will still preview plays and profile theatre artists, and she hopes that when the economy turns around, Jerry and his reviews will be back in the paper. Carey is a great supporter of ours; don’t blame her. Things are tough in the media biz.
Last week, several cuts were also announced at A-Channel in Victoria, and 24Hours, a local free daily, laid off Graeme McRanor, their entertainment reporter. Modern Vancouver Woman (formerly Shared Vision) folded entirely, and My Vancouver (formerly Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine) is on extended hiatus.
So, what’s an artist to do? The media is involved in a vicious cycle: folks can’t afford to buy advertising, so newspapers are having to cut back or fold entirely. This creates less editorial space for those of us that probably didn’t have the money to advertise to start with.
So, what to do?
If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to jump into social media. While traditional media outlets are struggling, content continues to grow on the internet. Get a Google Reader account and start getting to know some bloggers. Start your own blog or start Twittering. Get involved with Flickr, YouTube or Facebook.
We have to be creative and start to think beyond the traditional media outlets we have relied on in the past. Check in on Wednesday when I post three specific examples.
UPDATE, JULY 6, 2009: Another one bites the dust. Paul Grant, a 30-year vetran of our local CBC radio, is set to retire at the end of the summer. Paul had a daily segment on The Afternoon Show called The Arts Report, and has done numerous stories on shows I have been working on. The Arts Reporter position will not be replaced, so yet another outlet for arts stories is now gone.
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It seems like the Westender is only publishing reviews every other week now too….
There has been a lot of talk about the cuts around the theatre lately as the publicist & apprentices discuss who to invite to shows. It’s ridiculously hard to get reviewers out & theatres count on reviewers coming as a major part of their publicity. I recently volunteered to run FOH for a co-op show on their opening night & even the media booked in for the show didn’t show up.
It seems to me that Vancouver Opera is heading the right direction with “Bloggers Night.” Finding a way to harness the viral power of social media seems to me to be the best way of moving forward in “these tough econimic times.”
Here maybe the interesting idea, have a look! You will like it
Times like these make me glad I have my gig at E!Online covering entertainment… although they are a part of the Canwest behemoth that may also soon be flailing 😦
While it’s true that Canwest is struggling, I don’t think websites rely as heavily on advertising as newspapers do. It’s just cheaper–no printing costs to cover.
In addition, as you have pointed out, people are increasingly getting their news online, and not so much from papers.
You’re in Wednesday’s post, BTW. 🙂
Like the music industry, people do need to look at what is happening in social media, and if they wish to succeed they just may need to change with the times.
I am in music, and use social media to get gigs, share info, and bring attention to events, charities, and inspiring people. Ultimately it generates jobs, or opportunities which turn into gigs. Social media is an incredibly effective way to get you or your business seen. I thank people like yourself and Miss604 for leading the way…….
Thanks for the really great comment, Rachel. And while Miss 604 and I do share a certain ‘Rebeccaness’, I still have a while to go to catch up to her! She has taught me a lot about blogging, Twitter, and social networking.
I’m finding the arts community in Brisbane Australia is increasingly working on the new ‘word of mouth’ – arguably the strongest way to get the word out. Right now Facebook is being used to promote events and to keep in touch. Twitter and blogs are starting to make an impression, but tend to be inwardly focussed i.e., peer to peer, although the mainstream media has reps now on Twitter for example, and they are using the ‘word’ that the community are spreading. In fact they are asking for news.
There are street papers of course, and one local daily, but the mainstream media has never been held in particularly high esteem for the quality of its reviewing or coverage.
So it feels as though the electronic media are starting to make an impression, but only time will tell.
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We’re not losing the “old” media but there is a bit of a lag as they are adjusting to the electronic age. There is something special about holding and folding a newspaper as opposed to sitting in front of a computer – as user-friendly as computers have become. I use both. You too?
I actually hardly ever buy a newspaper. Not that I don’t like to read a weekend paper with a cup of coffee, and I pretty much read the Georgia Straight every week, but I just don’t have the time to sit down and read a newspaper.