Thursday, March 04, 2010

Returning from Musical Hiatus

I suddenly realized that political blogging here has been in remission. Reason is simple, sort of. Since I revealed over a year ago that I also appeared online as the music and culture critic for the Washington Times, things have been changing at the paper. Quite radically. I.e., as of December 31, 2009, the paper, like many others nationwide, has had to face its own fiscal crisis. As a result, it's radically restructured itself and eliminated, among other things, local coverage of the DC area, including sports (!) and the arts.

Restructuring has proceeded apace with the dead-tree version of the paper now a controlled circulation creature. A paid e-edition is also available online.

But in addition to that, the Times still maintains a rather spiffy website for the general public which contains much of the e-paper content plus more. And part of "more" is a tab called "Communities." And "Communities/Entertain Us" is where some of the Times' critics are starting to reappear. "Entertain Us" is chaired remotely from Denver by the paper's former movie critic, Christian Toto. (Christian's own movie website is here.)

So, as of the end of January, I've been posting my reviews in "Entertain Us" under my column "Curtain Up!" I also plan to return to theater reviewing--something I haven't done much of since 1994 (except for the Contemporary American Theater Festival).

The bad thing about going entirely online is that the news biz has yet to figure out how to monetize this, so the pay ranges from minimal to zero. The good thing is that I no longer have to depend on editorial higher ups to beg for scarce column inches. The result: I'm back to writing the kind of comprehensive reviews, circa 1200+ words, that I used to write in the late 1990s before the entire newspaper biz started committing slow suicide by shrinking local coverage, using wire services instead of their own news bureaus, and serving (with the notable exception of my paper) as shills for the Democrats, a disgusting development that diminished the brand of "objective journalism" and may have destroyed this profession--or at least come close.

In addition to column inches that are no longer limited and reviewing choices that are no longer decided by muckety-mucks, the web gives me a chance to post lots of educational links, photos, and at least the occasional sound clip or YouTube video. This is actually a major plus in performing arts reviewing, which is, after all, all audio visual in content in the end. I suspect that the reviewing biz, at least, is going to be a lot happier in this space. Many other critics, by force (aka, layoffs) or choice have moved to this space as well.

Second bit of news: I've also been invited to review occasionally for another very spiffy DC-area website, DC Theatre Scene and will probably be starting to post some content there in a week or so.

I'll keep you posted on this stuff from time to time. Needless to say, the sheer volume of content I'm starting to generate in these places will slow me down here. But with the Obama-ites and our Socialistic Congress still attempting to put in place a nationalized healthcare plan that statistically zero of the nation wants, there'll be plenty to do here as well, alas.

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