Arts Journalists on a Collective Blog

Arts Journal, which is using blogs quite effectively, has come up with a brilliant project–a 10-day topic-centered blog “exploring the future of BIG IDEAS in classical music”: Here’s the description by Douglas McLennan–

There was a time when great cities had multiple newspapers and culture was hashed out daily in the press, strongly-held opinions battling for the hearts and minds of readers. Today it’s rare for a city to have more than one or two outlets where culture can be publicly discussed, let alone prodded and pulled and challenged…

Our culture is the lesser for it, as critical opinions about art, music, theatre, and dance get squeezed, and public debates about culture in the print media grow fainter. That doesn’t mean there isn’t great writing about culture still to be found in print (there’s evidence of it every day in ArtsJournal). But the writing is one-way, and rarely do we see a good back-and-forth debate bubble up.

Now comes the internet, where a lively mob of voices has taken up discussions of culture, politics, and just about anything else you can think of. Daily, thousands of bloggers fire up their computers to register opinions, and one of the things that makes the best of them interesting is their willingness to engage in dialogues with their readers.

So what if we gathered up some of the best print critics and asked them to engage one another over an issue in a blog? Their opinions could be challenged, their ideas explained, and a lively debate might ensue.

That’s what we hope will happen over the next ten days in this “topic blog” exploring the future of Big Ideas in classical music. We’ve invited a dozen of the best American classical music critics:

Charles Ward of the Houston Chronicle
Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News
Kyle Gann of the Village Voice
Justin Davidson of Newsday
John Rockwell of The New York Times
Andrew Druckenbrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Greg Sandow of The Wall Street Journal
Wynne Delacoma of the Chicago Sun-Times
John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune
Kyle MacMillan of the Denver Post
Alex Ross of The New Yorker
Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle

I’m all for this kind of dialogue. And it’s beautifully organized and posted on the blog. Two aspects of this dialogue I particularly like: one, that they’ve invited the public in to make comments (and some of these additions have thus far been as interesting as the journalists’ take on the topic; and two, that they plan to extend the conversation by concluding it with a f2f discussion at the Aspen Arts Festival. Will there be bloggers in the audience? Will it be live-blogged?–they’ll have to be mobloggers, I believe from the sounds of the tent locale.

This is just the kind of experiment I want to carry out on my new Arts Writing Course Blog–right now it’s bare bones, but I plan to make it look and act more like a ‘zine than the previous version did. Nice work by Douglas McLennan and crew!

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