I am going through new online ventures submitted for the National Summit on Arts Journalism, scheduled for Oct. 2 at the University of Southern California, a collaboration between the Annenberg School for Communication and the National Arts Journalism Program, with support from the Hewlett and Mellon Foundations and the NEA. Web broadcasting and satellite events at schools and cultural institutions around the country promise to make this something of a benchmark moment in our ongoing narrative about journalism’s transformation from a top-down, dead-tree medium to a digital, democratic, diffuse, dialog-oriented domain that bears less and less resemblance to the news media of old.
The agony of print journalism’s attenuated demise continues to dominate pubic discussion about journalism in general and arts journalism in particular. Nonetheless, as I argued recently in The Art Newspaper, we’re seeing the emergence of new communication and business models, some of which may not look anything like the journalism we used to know, but which are filling the void left behind by imploding newspapers and struggling magazines.
When the idea of the summit was hatched, it was hard to predict how many projects would come out of the woodwork. But after this week’s deadline, the tally has topped one hundred—a remarkable number, in my opinion, and a sign that at long last we have entered a new phase. (Winning projects will be presented during the summit; top projects will receive monetary awards.)
Many of the best projects are hyper-local, narrowly focused, and totally at ease with being medium agnostic, seamlessly blending images, text, video, and radio (that surprise success story in the Darwinian winnowing of distribution platforms in the new-media age). The ventures are also revenue-source-agnostic, pulling support from wherever and whoever they can—advertising, nonprofits, venture capital, big media, private donors, and a lot of sweat equity from enterprising volunteers.
These projects hold great promise for all arts, including the visual arts, especially for specific cultural niches and geographic regions. Check them out here, and share your opinions.