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July 9, 2010

[Insert Nike Slogan Here]

One of my all-time favorite "underground comix" panels is from a Gilbert Shelton "Fuzzy Furry Freak Brothers" strip. In it, a mouse who'd gotten into the Brothers' coke stash and snorted a huge strawful, looks at his hands and says, "I have hands! Why aren't I running this ship?" A similar, albeit un-narcotized, thought occurred to me when starting to type a comment on Douglas McLennan's "Castles, Version 2.0" post. Suddenly, a little voice said, "You're a blogger! Why aren't you running your own post on this?"

So, here goes:

I respectfully suggest that the NAJP board authorize a committee (god-awful word; I simply mean a group of volunteers from the membership) to undertake a feasibility study of the NAJP's starting an online publication. The committee could do some research, then spit 'n' argue about what's missing in arts journalism, do we need more arts reporting or reviews or both, what kind of publication would be desirable (daily, weekly, rolling, etc.), what kind of money & from where would be required to start it, how it would pay to keep itself going, etc., etc.

If the committee found that an online publication was neither doable nor desirable, that'd be the end of it. If, on the other hand, the committee found that some kind of publication was desirable and doable, then it would present a motion to the board for a go or no-go vote. If the vote was MSD, that'd be the end of it. If, on the other hand, the vote was MSP, then those interested could get going.

It seems to me that Doug's "2.0" post, previous posts on the possibility of an NAJP publication, and the comments on them all are at the least prima facie evidence that there's enough groundswell out there to at least study the idea in some organized form.

Part of NAJP's mission statement says that since 1994, what we've "sought to advance arts and cultural news coverage in three ways": awarding fellowships, publishing research reports, and convening conferences. Without Pew funding, we do none of those things any more, and in the absence of these three major, concrete former endeavors, our other, more vague functions (advocating for arts reporting and criticism, improving the quality and quantity of arts journalism, informing the industry of standards in arts journalism, supporting and mentoring arts journalists, helping with networking among our kind, and developing economic models for arts journalism in digital media) start to seem like wishful thinking. Don't they?

And what better way to "help develop standards and viable economic models for arts journalism in emerging digital media" than to start and run a publication that embodies them?

Board, that ball with the little swoosh on it is in your court.

July 9, 2010 1:38 PM | | Comments (0)

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