The slow death of arts writing

Among the hardest hit by the changes to the media landscape has been the amount of arts coverage cut from newspapers.

Fairfax in its recent rounds of redundancies have let go a range of experienced reviewers and arts writers whose by-line had a reputation for expertise in particular art-forms

This has slowly seen the Arts section which used to be substantial section replaced by tag Entertainment, where you can expect recaps of the Bachelor but a lot less on what is showing at one of the smaller theatres. As a result the state performing arts companies are concerned that this reduced “commitment to comprehensive … arts and cultural coverage” will lead to reduced public awareness of their activities.

With every section of the paper expected to be economic self-sustaining, over the last decade we have seen publishers pull out of areas of coverage that receive less click-attention, with arts coverage declining in all the major Australian papers.

The only silver lining has been a range of online ventures that have emerged that aim to fill the space vacated by the large publishers. Among these online publications are The Daily Review, Audrey Journal, the Sydney Review of Books and a range of other review web-sites.

The Daily Review owned by Private Media has evolved from an email newsletter into a major internet portal that covers all the major theatre, musical performances and offers film and book reviews. Alongside that it also offers an array of competitions for people not able to afford particular shows.

Another recent entrant launched in 2017 is Audrey Journal, started by long-term Sydney Morning Herald reviewers Jason and Elissa Blake provides an example of the institutional memory of the broadsheets gravitating towards the online space. With the support of advertising from a range of performing arts institutions the journal has been able to ensure all the major theatrical companies receive critical coverage of their performances.

The Sydney Review of Books is a good example of what institutional support from a university can achieve, offering detailed essays from some of the nation’s finest writers and critics. The web-site allows for the return of the long-form review with detailed coverage of Australian writing.

And there are also plenty of individual sites for critics like Bernard Zuel and Richard Watts have set up their own individual sites.

With the major mastheads shrinking their coverage, who are you favourite review sites, let us know?





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