The Playgoer: Death of Criticism?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Death of Criticism?

Enrique Fernandez has a provocative (or do I mean, depressing?) little essay on the implications of Columbia's abandonment of its NAJP (see Columbia story below). It's in the Miami Herald (free registration site), link courtesy of ArtsJournal.

"The phenomenon of 'zagatization' is taking over," says Fernandez, an NAJP alum. Man, he's got that right. (Remember the Zagat Theater Guide attempt a couple of years ago? Just audiences filling in ratings on cards with pencils.) Fernandez blames many factors--including blogs! But also, print newspapers ceding the "opinion" ground in general.

So, do we need newspaper critics? Andra Szanto, who heads the doomed National Arts Journalism Program and, joined by well-placed NAJP alums, is now trying to keep it alive, believes we do. Admitting that art blogs have an important role, Szanto worried about the loss of ``the civic role of newspapers....Arts criticism had been a newspaper's way of saying that you cannot conceive of reality without the arts being part of it,'' he said.
Are serious critics now dependent on the commitment of print media to our standards? Or is the web a sensible refuge?


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