Project 34

1. One of the biggest obstacles to getting more great arts reporting into circulation is that it is often categorized under “entertainment.” The most insignificant political story can make it onto the air/page, even if the politician is totally unfamiliar, but an important story involving Angel Romero gets rejected because “no one has ever heard of him.” My first proposal would be to reinvent the arts pitch. Develop a new way to pitch arts stories, and a method that can be duplicated by other journalists, that will help connect the arts story in meaningful ways to politics, business, education, etc. Call news editors, etc, and try to pitch an arts story that has a strong news peg, find out why it doesn’t get onto the assignment board, try and figure out how to fix that. This would tie in directly with a proposal from Carol Kino, in which she’s interested in changing the common model about the positive effects of arts organizations by identifying some through research and building a database of sources and ideas. (For instance, the Knight Foundation has hard data that shows the artstie people more strongly to their communities, which in turn makes them feel more empowered–the same reason they promote localjournalism.)

2. I love, love, love new media and the way it helps us report in new ways. One of the best is to give audience/viewing members audio recorders (I have a small Sony handheld IC recorder that I can hand to people as they enter an exhibit and pick up as they exit), and let them record their impressions (quietly) while they’re looking at pieces. It works just as well to give it to them and have them step away for a moment right after a movie/concert/performance. They are much more honest and open when they’re alone and simply talking into a recorder than when a reporter is staring at them and answering questions. The great thing about this is you can create a review of a piece or performance by collecting multiple descriptions and then cobbling them together. Works with tweeting too.

3. And by the way, sexism and sexual harassment is alive and well in the arts. The stage is one of the last safe havens for inappropriate behavior. Part of this is because hiring decisions are so subjective and don’t have to be defended and therefore whistleblowers can be punished without fear of repercussion. But I’m sure there are other reasons, and answers to the question of why it is still so pervasive, even at the upper levels of the industry. I’ve been dying to do an investigative piece on sexual harassment in the arts.