We began this project by identifying five issues in arts journalism that we thought were up for debate. These are ideas we need to grapple with in figuring out what’s next for arts journalism. From this initial framing of the issues, we asked for projects that address them:
- Critical Response
Who says the perfect critical response is the 500-word review? Or 1000 words? Is a written review superior to video or audio? What impact does the form of a review have on its content or impact? Is a piece of criticism finished once it’s published? Is the most effective critic a preacher or a discussion leader? Is a piece of criticism most effective after the fact or while the act of art is taking place? Is there such a thing as a well-written wiki-review? How does a critic assert authority at a time when the audience says it distrusts experts? Is there a way to group-review art in a meaningful way?
- Audience/Community Engagement
At a minimum, today’s journalism is becoming more interactive. How can we build and engage an audience? Work with the community? Tap into the resources of our community? Can contests motivate people to collaborate meaningfully to good journalism? Games? How do journalists fit into a community and produce added value? What is the role of a journalist/critic in a community at a time when amateur critics abound? How does an arts journalist assert a role in a community and what should that role be?
- Investigative Cultural Reporting
There is plenty of opinionating on the web, but an important part of arts journalism that has had a bad time as traditional media outlets have cut back is arts reporting; particularly meaningful investigative arts reporting. We’d love to see a great investigative piece/package come out of this fellowship. We potentially have more arts journalists to throw at a reported/investigative piece (albeit for a very short time) than any other news organization in America. Is there a great investigative cultural story in America (or internationally) that isn’t being done and for which we potentially have the resources to produce through this project?
- Innovative Technology
There are many digital tools available. Visualization tools make data easier to understand, crowd-sourcing tools make collaborations easier, social networking tools make information more transparent and new publishing platforms make presenting stories in rich formats more dynamic. Propose a project that utilizes technology tools in innovative ways that enhance great story-telling or criticism.
- New Forms of Story-telling
Traditional news stories were delivered in final form and we were never sure what happened to them once they landed on a reader’s doorstep. Now blogs make it possible to report stories in incremental pieces over many posts. Social media streams become “storified” and collaborative. Recommendation engines push audiences to contribute to extend and modify stories. Wiki communities “co-create” and edit stories. There are “charticles”, slideshow stories, animated recreations (see XtraNormal), graphic novel-esque reporting, soundscapes. We’d love to see a project that played with the form of its delivery as it was telling a great story.
We aren’t looking for “perfect” projects; we want to experiment, and we’ll be quite happy if some of the projects chosen are big fat failures. You can’t take risks without sometimes failing. But we want smart imaginative failures that others can learn from. And we’re interested in documenting these projects in such a way that others can see how we did what we did and why.