Donald Munro: April 2008 Archives
Your newspaper's print circulation is declining. The staff is smaller. Your newsroom managers are so obsessed with boosting Internet traffic that they're waking up in the middle of the night screaming about hit counts and RSS feeds. So what do they want the arts staff to do?
It's happening at papers all over. Managers are discovering that blogs about entertainment and the arts can drive traffic. Ours, at The Fresno Bee, is doing well. Not only that, but well written blogs can draw in regional and national audiences, which hit-count-loving corporate types love.
At a Newspaper Guild gathering at a Fresno pizza place last week, we got together to talk about the B word. Blogs are all the rage, of course, and editors who a couple of years ago wouldn't have known a browser from a button hole are now fretting over Top 10 read-stories lists and figuring out how to work "Facebook" into every lifestyle section headline.
Now for a bit of good news. In the midst of the terrible headlines about laid-off critics, slashed arts coverage and cutbacks in music education in the public schools, I figured I'd pass on some positive tidings for a change. I was excited recently to write a different kind of arts story: a piece about a fantastic new performing arts center opening smack in the middle of California's Central Valley.
And here's the most amazing thing: It belongs to a high school.
The Clovis Unified School District puts a premium on the arts, and officials here have planned for years on how to provide superior facilities for its students. After voters passed two bond measures, the district budgeted $17.5 million to build an arts center that houses a 750-seat concert hall and a 150-seat black box theater.