The power struggle between print media and the internet is affecting many other institutions. Not only in politics, but in business, the arts, and nearly every other sphere of organized human activity. An intriguing case study is the world of arts criticism. Arts organizations have long been dependent on the print media, which are less and less able to afford the luxury of arts critics, while bloggers have risen in power.
Natalie Axton, writing for the print Weekly Standard (which makes it available online), wittily and lucidly delves into the dynamics of the current print/net confrontation in the world of dance criticism. Those of us focused on the media struggle within politics can benefit from observing the war on another front. A sample:
Previously a thankless job, arts criticism is enjoying a new vogue online. Suddenly, there are thousands of blogs devoted to all matters of arts mania. Want to read about heartthrob baritones, dance on camera, or the politics of the stagehand's union? There's a blog for you. Don't care to read? Highlight videos are delivered via Twitter.
An arts enthusiast has no reason to buy a newspaper, which makes some people angry. Elizabeth Zimmer recently described the blogosphere as a "miasma of amateur expression." The stalwart critic of the Village Voice might be right on that note:
In the anti-authoritarian world of the Internet, criticism is laypeople talking to laypeople, who seem to like that just fine.
All the same, the restructuring of the newspaper industry poses real problems for arts organizations. With a diminishing number of full-time critics, defining exactly who is and is not "press" can be a tricky issue.