...in Chicago, at least. According to TOC's Chris Piatt, writing in the local PerformInk:
this  was the year blogs made their presence known in our community, and all but devoured the collective consciousness of Chicago theatre.
In the first two years of Time Out, our weeks revolved around a tough production schedule and keeping up with our competitors’ news cycles. Whom did they feature this week, and did they do it better than we did? What did they think of the new Goodman show, and did they say it more intelligently than we did? In short, the conversation was generally about content, ideas and the currency of those ideas.
These days, though, the thoughts on most arts journalists’ minds aren’t, “What did I think of the play, and what did my colleagues think,” but rather, “What does this blogger think about me?”
The psychological grip these bloggers and their commenting minions hold on journalists can’t be underestimated. If you merely read what was printed about Chicago theatre this year, you only got the text. If you read the blogs, you also got the vital, constantly shifting subtext, postings that drilled their way into journalists’ psyches and leaked into their coverage.
I'm sure there are some in the New York scene that would say similar things. But no doubt the potential for blogs to have more reach and impact is greater in a city not dominated by Broadway and where nonprofit and/or "storefront" theatre comprises most of the advertised theatrical activity.
In New York, it would take a lot more to break through the coordinated noise of major Broadway marketing machines and communications blitzes--still the source of theatre info for the core NY theatre audience (tourists, NY Times readers, retired professionals, intellectuals with disposable income, and even impoverished show queens and obsessed Broadway fans). Which is why I can't resist a brief moment of hope in the chaos Piatt compelling describes in the Chicago theatre media: "In this weak era for journalism, in which publicity and marketing departments are accustomed to driving news coverage, this is tantamount to Dodge City circa 1873."
Yes, a revolution in the "driving of news coverage" is required for the kinds of changes wished for in the theatre on this blog and others. But I agree with Piatt (and more doomsaying blog-skeptics) that it comes with a price, and a challenge to bloggers to take som, some responsibility for promoting a civil kind of coverage that isn't just about getting inside artists and critics' heads.
I would like to think if there is any "psychological grip" of the blogs, it's in the mind of the be-gripped, not the alleged "gripper."
(Hat tip: Ratsass)