Arts journalists treated like stepchildren by the media

Soccer players change clubs when they are no longer wanted. The relationship decays and they move on to greater things. An artist with a healthy ego will break his commissioned Guernica minutes before it appears before buyers.

Soccer players change clubs when they are no longer wanted. The relationship decays and they move on to greater things. An artist with a healthy ego will break his commissioned Guernica minutes before it appears before buyers.

The idea is to prove that he cannot be controlled. At his highest charm, a con man will leave town after shaming the locals into submission and reappear in another to mount his high wire act.

It's a universal coin. It is an embedded phenomenon, except when it lands in the hand of a journalist - the arts journalist that is. In short, I'm talking about change.

The jig is up for this kind of a man in the newsroom. In fact, the ledge has always been smaller from the moment the idea of the arts was sold to newspapers.

And it is not premature to say the arts journalist was never codicil to the will of the newspaper. He is basically unwanted until he is re-coded to empty notations such as entertainment or showbiz journalist.

And the arts are unwelcome in the newspapers until they are music. Like John Updike, the arts journalist has come to know "the resentment a caterpillar must feel while his somatic cells are shifting all around to make him a butterfly".

This is not to say change is not good. Change is a shit-flavoured transition. It stinks badly when it is delivered to your desk.

Over the years, we have seen many journalists leave to start ranting blogs, feeding the trolls on the Net about the suits that hold the purse strings.

A good measure of those who left have had to deal with the growing pains of freelancing, where the bastards don't pay until you threaten to kidnap their kids or write back to say you have slept with their moms.

I'm quick to say there is nothing special about arts journalists until you meet one drawn to amputee-bondage art. Out there, showbiz journalists have become runners for PR companies, poodles to an industry that feeds on write-ups for as long as it is good.

Since editorial space is shrinking for those of us who report on the arts - meaning, fine art, theatre, dance and other alternative art - the door is closing permanently for long-winded pieces and "unknown" personalities we write about.

We have come down to writing squibs and recycling the same "famous" personalities. The somatic cells are rapidly shifting. We are witnessing the stump insertion in the newsrooms, of journalists who write the boring "from me, to you" columns - basically the stars of this New New Newest Journalism.

Journalism is dead - the one that gives the eye the treat, that is. But who is to blame for all this?

At the moment the blame might be priced unrealistically on the suits that own and control the media.

But if you look at the fact that it is the arts pages that get the chop first, more than any section in the newspapers, we cannot help but lay the blame at the doorstep of management.

Arts pages are sacrificed because the general feeling is they are showbiz - the connotation being that it is fun and leisure.

If this is quibbling the tiny points, then I don't know what will make a case for the arts journalist.

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