Presenter: Rainey Knudson
How do you define an aesthetic of a region? First, someone has to notice what that aesthetic is and articulate it. Artistic movements don’t happen because of journalists, but journalists help to frame them and give them context. Glasstire is a site about visual art in Texas, and its premise rests on the “Texanness” of the art made there. The site isn’t comprehensive in the sense that it covers everything in the visual arts. But just as critics have always done, Glasstire argues for a way of seeing art in a region that is different from art made elsewhere.
Glasstire is almost nine years old, operates as a non-profit, and has developed a core of 35-40 writers around the state, all of whom are paid for their work. How is it a new model for arts journalism? Founder Rainey Knudson says the site is stable and self-sustaining and its traffic has continued to increase. Online, the site has far better reach and ability to connect to an audience than if it were a print publication. And because it doesn’t have to carry the cost of printing pages, the economics of an online art magazine work. This is, she believes a model that could be replicated in other states. video transcript
Presenter: Jim Gaines
New York, NY
FLYP is an independent media startup trying to reinvent the magazine online, not just by posting print/image/sound/video content to a website, but by rethinking what digital story-telling and the next-generation magazine might become. The presentation/design aesthetic is built into the architecture of the story, intended not just to make a story look pretty, but to pull a visitor deeper into the ideas or narratives. Text, image, sound and video are elements to be juggled based on their effectiveness in telling pieces of a story. No one element consistently dominates. Navigation through articles is meant to suggest a kind of digitally tactile sensibility.
Even though its physical form is ephemeral electrons, FLYP’s origins are anchored in the physicality of the traditional magazine. Each story is a small multimedia production project in itself. Text is important on this site, but image, sound and video aren’t just supporting media; various media take turns in the lead, depending on the story or idea. FLYP tries to combine the high-design richness of a glossy print magazine with the dynamic potential of a media-rich website in ways that suggest that a general-culture publication can be a compelling window on culture. Editor-in-chief Jim Gaines was formerly managing editor of People, Life and Time magazines. video transcript
Presenter: Patty Gessner
San Francisco, CA
If a concert happens and no one writes about it, did it really happen? Of course it did. But artists depend on press accounts of their work to build reputations and audience, and to get funding. As arts coverage slips off the pages of local newspapers, who documents the public work of artists? The Bay Area has a thriving classical music community; it’s home to more than 340 classical music organizations. San Francisco Classical Voice was created back in 1998 because founder Robert Commanday feared that cutbacks in newspaper coverage would hurt the local classical music scene.
The site offers comprehensive local coverage and has become the go-to resource for finding out about artists, organizations, venues and events. Its news section consistently breaks stories and has become essential reading for anyone who cares about classical music in the Bay Area. The site offers clips of music being performed locally, program notes for upcoming concerts, access to concert ticket and dinner reservation services, and free music downloads. Writers include a mix of expert academics, journalists, and artists, who are paid for their work.
The site is a 501 (c)3, supported locally by donations from foundations, corporations and individuals, and by ads and memberships, and is self-sustaining. As an example of a website covering an art form in a region where newspaper coverage has been cut back, executive producer Patricia Gessner says that Classical Voice demonstrates that more comprehensive local coverage is now possible than in the traditional press. video transcript
Presenter: Juan Devis
Los Angeles, CA
Ask a community to tell you its story and you won’t get one, you get many. How do you stitch those stories together in ways that create a narrative, that explain something about a culture? The answer is you don’t. Departures is an experiment in non-linear community story-telling. The stories themselves come out of the communities. The video is often shot by kids, and the way users experience the project is by choosing their own entry points and finding paths through the site.
Departures is a multimedia site that can seduce with its panoramic landscapes but deflects attempts at immediate payback. It imposes its own pace on users’ explorations. The slickness of the beautiful design suggests an expensive, resource-heavy and lengthy production process, but the projects were designed and produced inexpensively and are replicable in templates. Departures suggests a different way of telling the stories of cultures that haven’t found voice in traditional journalism. Artist Juan Devis has developed what he believes is a more interactive form of journalism that gets closer to the cultures of a neighborhood. video transcript
Presenter: Mark Mangan
New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Chicago
City arts guides have long had a place at the center of local arts journalism. The rise of the alternative press in the 1970s, for example, was powered by arts coverage that promised to sort through local culture and point readers to what was best. Flavorpill is a robust 21st Century version of the city guide, an uber-curator sorting through hundreds of events in six cities and trying to make the case for the 25 events in each city its writers believe are worth paying attention to that week.
Flavorpill started as an email publisher and now has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and an annual revenue base in the millions of dollars. It has defined its taste and its style so efficiently that Flavorpill followers trust the brand as their cultural guide. The site’s business model is non-traditional, as you will hear from CEO Mark Mangan.
Revenue comes from advertising, but Flavorpill also sells pages on its sites to venues and allows them to write about their own events, alongside Flavorpill’s editorial staff . The venues are chosen by Flavorpill, and Mangan says that ensures a level of quality. He also says that transparency is key; readers can tell the difference between a Flavorpill recommendation and a venue pitch. The news business badly needs to create new models to support itself; is this blend of editorial and paid content a viable way of doing journalism? video transcript