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June 5, 2010

What the Hell's Wrong with NAJP'ers?

OK, I'll be the jerk.

I'm rather aghast at the paltry response to John's potentially "Aux barricades!" posts about an NAJP publication. You'd think that there'd be dozens of NAJP'ers commenting, with their own separate ideas, or tweakings of John's & Robert's & Laura's idea, or some Garland-Rooney-musical offers to pitch in and help launch a publication, or some reasoned and passionate arguments against the whole idea, or something...anything! Instead, there's an overwhelming silence from a constituency whose very profession seems to be circling the drain.

What, we're all satisfied with arts journalism collapsing like a jack-o'-lantern left on the porch for a month, with sitting back and letting a few hard-working people set up and run "ARTicles" where we can post pro bono all those brilliant opinions nobody will pay us for anymore, where we can engage in endless shoptalk while the shop is being dismantled all around us? I mean, here are three people proposing something positive, something with perhaps even a little rescue value in it, something right in the wheelhouse of us who get off on writing about the arts, and a couple of posts about it are greeted with a huge, collective, "Eh?"

Come ON, people!

(If you want to tell me what an inappropriate post this is, or what a bad person I am, by all means comment here. If you're inclined, on the other hand, to do what you know you should do and contribute something to the discussion of an NAJP publication, comment on one of John Rockwell's posts.)
June 5, 2010 6:31 AM | | Comments (2)


There's nothing jerkish about your question, Peter, or about your post.

I wonder if some of the reasons for the lack of response are these:

1.) Depression. Seriously. What journalists have been going through in recent years is traumatic, and genuine depression is one result. Not in everyone, of course, but in a substantial chunk of our population. Anxious, depressed people find it difficult to get their hopes up. I think Matthew Westphal is right that a lot of people read John's initial post and immediately thought, "Me! Me!" They may also have swiftly concluded that there was no point even in dreaming. When people get knocked down enough times, they tend to anticipate another blow.

2.) The Internet may be a free-for-all, but many journalists feel professionally constrained from publicly commenting under their own names about any issue at all — whether they still have full-time employment or not. In this case, the don't-show-your-bias rule collides with a concern about alienating current or prospective employers, who might interpret engagement with this cause as being at odds with their own interests.

Then again, the silence might simply be the product of cynicism, and that's never healthy. Skepticism we could use, however; skeptics ask good questions.

In any case, this is a crisis, and we ought to be smart enough to see — and seize — opportunity in it. Let's.

There's really no point leaving a rant like this without a linkback to the original post/proposal.

And lambasting an extraordinarily busy group of people for not responding to something that was posted on the Thursday afternoon before a long weekend also seems a bit ... well, you used the adjective.

Anyway, for anyone else who, like me, missed it because of being out of town and having a crazy, short week in which to catch up with the many things that are part of being a working writer, here is the original post.

And now, having read it, I'm not inclined to respond, since I don't have a spare $20 million or any ideas of where to get such a sum. Very pretty castle in the sky, though. :)

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