Curtains fall on arts critics at newspapers

This is a sad fact, but so true.

“When a city loses its critics, there is less news and views about the art form they cover circulating locally,” Mandel says. “Most often news of lesser-known artists is lost, replaced by news of national and international pop culture celebrities issued by their publicity machines. … A local critic knows something that is simply irreplaceable about the local audiences and readership.”

“When I got laid off I looked around to see the entire paper has become a kids’ paper,” says Scott Bowles, who worked for 17 years as a film critic and reporter with USA Today until the paper cut about 70 people in 2014. Among those canned were entertainment reporters and editors, plus three critics including book critic and 40-year-Gannett veteran Bob Minzesheimer. “I don’t know if it was us chasing the fad or creating the fad, but papers lost their voice of authority to try to cater to youth,” Bowles says. “It’s all for kids. The papers, the movies and music. There is nowhere to go for smart analysis, beautiful features. Social media means everyone has a voice but what’s lost in the cacophony is that intelligent voice commenting on intelligent art.”

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