When Less Variety is More… Bloggers Unite!

11/03/2010 at 2:25 pm 2 comments

The uneasy shift toward economic caution displayed by Variety Magazine this week caused a few ripples. Sacking two full-time critics in favour of freelance fares writers a two-edged knife, as an exercise in cost-cutting it’s cynical; on the other hand it creates more opportunity for, well – freelance writers. But as a trend, overall it’s not that good for anyone.

David Cote at the Guardian smartly rails against the death of the critic; despite persistent rumours about the Death of the Author (exaggerated or non), we may well conclude that most critics do not fall into that category, but another! Whichever, but I might add that if it’s kicking, chances are it’s still alive. And isn’t it just, with Australian Theatre blogs vastly outstripping the dailies in terms of content and sheer theatre coverage, not to mention the flourishing international scene. Not a day goes by I don’t browse and discover a new arts-theatre commentary worth peeking.

In any case, I would have thought the point of being Variety Magazine is that you can have two-full time theatre writers to tie in all that chatter, linking here and there to keep a running thread in the conversation. I mean, you’re a magazine whose primary focus is entertainment. What else is there but keep writers around who can keep up with the research?

The trend is indicative of the digital era for with social now a significant chunk of media time-spend in developed nations, bloggers, freelances and emerging writers are GO. As has been argued, we can never replace the ‘traditional’ newspaper critic (except by ‘traditional’ hard work of course) – but then again, why would we want to? Oh right – there’s the money. And there’s the rub, with freelancers taking priority there’s not just a danger of slipping standards, but slipping wages.

So, bloggers beware; the next time a freelance gig comes a knocking- keep both eyes firmly on your bottom line. Standards, sure but Quality deserves fair treatment.

Entry filed under: CRITIC WATCH, Inside Theatre REVIEWS, Marketing. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. danielkeene  |  11/03/2010 at 4:37 pm

    I would be interested if there were any critics in Australia who AREN’T freelance. (Deborah Jones eg doesn’t count because she works as an editor). Anybody?

  • 2. anvildrops  |  12/03/2010 at 9:58 am

    good question Daniel! I don’t know the answer but I gather the trend toward outsourcing writers is global.

    not many. it’s worth mentioning that one of the writers cut back from Variety was the theatre editor. ouch


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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

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