The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Are we losing the mainstream media? Part 2 March 9, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

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.newspaper

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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Are we losing the mainstream media? February 3, 2009

Last week, I got an email from Michael Harris, who reviews plays for The Globe and Mail here in Vancouver. It said:

I’m afraid I have some bad news… The Globe and Mail has cancelled its weekly Vancouver theatre listings, effective immediately. As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone in print media has had to make a great many cuts.

Today, we learned that The Globe and Mail cut 10% of its workforce.

It’s no secret that traditional print media has had to scramble in the wake of an explosion of online content. First off,  there are millions of bloggers out there, writing away about their passions or areas of expertise. Then, traditional sources of media, like newspapers, are increasingly going online–either repurposing their hard-copy stuff, or using the web to instantly report breaking news. We are becoming more and more attached to our computers. A phone book arrived on my doorstep this week, and when I went to replace last year’s version, found I hadn’t even unwrapped last year’s  yet. I get my phone numbers from Canada 411.

Hard-copy media is writing about the very phenomenon that is happening to them. Recently, Michael Mccarthy and Gillian Shaw wrote articles on Twitter for The Vancouver Courier and The Vancouver Sun. How did they do the research? Twitter.

According to Tris Hussey who recently published a post called “Smart Journalists Tweet While Newspapers Wrap Fish”:

They’ve (journalists) seen the handwriting on the wall, and they see that it’s adapt or become fish wrappers. The Vancouver Sun and Reuters aren’t the only news folks on Twitter of course. Almost all of our local news outlets are on Twitter and interacting with the community at large. What do we get? Headlines pushed to us. What do they get? News sources. Lots of news sources.

Times have changed. Information is exchanged electronically and faster than the events themselves (which does lead to inaccurate information at times), journalism and journalists have to change as well.

If  traditional journalists are changing the way they write stories, then so do we have to adapt. I get paid to pitch stories to journalists, and hopefully score previews and reviews for my clients. In these times of shrinking column space and but a booming internet explosion, I am finding myself connecting more with mainstream media online (or as many of them that are online), and pitching stories to non-traditional, internet-based writers like bloggers.

Embrace the revolution!!

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