Today, Knight Foundation and the NEA announced the winners of its Community Arts Journalism Challenge. Here, Knight's Eric Newton gives some insight into why both organizations decided to fund innovations in arts coverage and criticism.
Update: Two of the winning projects, CriticCar Detroit and the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, were recently profiled in The Huffington Post and The Charlotte Observer, respectively.
When Knight Foundation first started working with the National Endowment of the Arts on the issue of arts journalism, we asked four questions: Is arts journalism in trouble? Does it matter? Can anything be done to help? How can we - the Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading private funder of journalism innovation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s leading advocate for the arts – improve the situation. Let’s look at the questions and answers:
1. Is arts journalism in trouble?
Nationally, arts journalism is doing well. Locally, it is not.
Nationally, the medium of film is an example of the positive post-internet trend. Even as film critics shrink in traditional media, the victims of the new economics of the digital age, they are blooming in cyberspace. Typical was famed film critic Roger Ebert reporting in his January 2011 Wall Street Journal article, “Film Criticism is Dying? Not Online.”: “The Web and HTML have been a godsend for film criticism. The best single film criticism site is arguably davidbordwell.net, featuring the Good Doctor Bordwell and his wife Kristin Thompson. Their names are known from their textbooks, studied in every film school in the world. But they are not users of the obscurantist gobbledygook employed by academics who, frankly, cannot really write. They communicate in prose as clear as running water.”