6 May 2018

Newspaper arts coverage dramatically cut

From Standing Room Only, 12:30 pm on 6 May 2018

It's not just been a bad week for theatre companies in New Zealand this week: on Monday Stuff formerly Fairfax newspapers went tabloid across nine newspapers, including The Press, Waikato Times, Nelson Mail and Dominion Post and this has seen arts coverage, including reviews, slashed and burned.

The changes don't just effect the arts, with local content now largely restricted to the opening pages of these newspapers and more sharing of national and international content, but it hits an area of coverage in our newspapers which has been diminishing in its attention and care for many years.  

Many arts writers we've heard from this week have been informed that only events of national significance will be covered from now on, both in terms of review and preview. Reviews - we are led to understand - are likely to be done by in-house reporters at a much reduced word length, and galleries and theatres outside the larger venues are at risk of missing out on coverage altogether.

The editor of The Dominion Post and Stuff in Wellington,  Eric Janssen has been invited to comment on this story, to be included in a future programme. Lynn Freeman is joined on the show by two of the many writer casualties, senior arts commentary figures, Dr Warren Feeney, weekly arts columnist for Christchurch's The Press and Dominion Post theatre critic Ewan Coleman.

What can we do? Well next week we're in conversation with editor in chief at website Pantograph Punch Lana Lopesi to discuss the future for arts reviewing online and on your smartphones, to discuss some positive things happening online.