Results tagged “Editor Interview” from ARTicles
Elizabeth Strout has made her name as a fiction writer. Her three novels "Amy and Isabelle," "Abide with Me" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Olive Kitteridge" have each struck a deep note among readers. Strout is working on her fourth book, but between projects, she accepted the position of guest editor for the spring 2010 issue of Ploughshares, a journal of new writing published three times a year at Emerson College in Boston. What was it like for writers to be edited by a writer? "Liz was great," said Katha Pollitt, a journalist and poet whose "Angels" is included in the collection. "She very energetically extracted that poem from my fog of dithering. I'd probably still be revising it if it weren't for her. And in her comments she saw things I hadn't even realized were there!" And what was it like for Strout to pick up her pen as an editor? Her answers are below, but if you're in the Boston area next week, you can listen to Strout read from her work and talk about her editorial debut at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the Paramount Theatre at Emerson College.
What interested you about being a guest editor for Ploughshares?
Poetry. Obviously, I love the whole thing. But the truth is I love poetry. It's not like I ever studied it, but I read a lot of it including work by lesser known poets. I'm a member of all the poetry associations so I always have poetry coming through the door. I'm so interested in it. It was exciting for me to think of making some choices myself about poets. And I love literary magazines. Literary magazines were my food for so long. I read all of them endlessly.
As journalistic endeavors go, The Arts Desk is something of a conductorless orchestra. Based in London and staffed by about three dozen writers and photographers, many of them former Daily Telegraph contributors, the online publication is structured as a collective, sans editors. In the absence of hierarchy, the group put Jasper Rees forward to discuss the site. This is an edited version of our interview, which was conducted via instant message. Where messages crossed, text has been rearranged for clarity.
The Arts Desk, which calls itself "Britain's first professionally produced arts critical website," launched last September: 09/09/09. Why and how did it come about?
In December 2008 a number of freelance arts writers who work regularly for the arts pages of the Daily Telegraph in the UK received the news simultaneously, in the very same email -- we were all cc'ed -- that in 2009 the paper was halving its arts budget and that much of the work would be done by staffers and in-house writers. We didn't need to read between the lines to work out that our work was going to shrink, and with it our pay. Without wishing to blow our own trumpets, we felt that any such move would necessarily entail a drop in quality of the arts coverage on the paper.
Very British, that modesty.
You might say that, I couldn't possibly comment -- to quote a political satire about cynical Westminster life that was on TV a while
In Dallas, KERA public media's nearly two-year-old Art&Seek initiative combines radio, television and online cultural coverage, much of it by former print journalists -- among them reporter/producer Jerome Weeks, a 1999-2000 NAJP fellow. Anne Bothwell, the director of Art&Seek, discussed the project in an e-mail interview.
The team you lead at Art&Seek includes journalists who, like you, are former arts staffers from The Dallas Morning News, which drastically cut its newsroom -- and, consequently, its arts coverage -- in 2006. What did, or does, the absence of strong cultural coverage in the local daily paper mean for Dallas, a city of more than a million people? When Art&Seek was launched in 2008, was that an effort to fill the void?
Like so many other newspapers, the Morning News covered local arts as an almost exclusive franchise. But like so many other papers, the cutbacks in staff affected that franchise. Similar cutbacks at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have led both papers to 'share' coverage, underscoring their dwindling, now-sometimes solitary voice in the community. As coverage waned, artists, presenting and performing organizations and other cultural institutions found it harder to get the word out about their work. Art&Seek was launched in part to fill that need.
Exposure to information about the arts makes it more likely you'll be inspired to pick up a paintbrush or join a dance class. And the theater, dance, music and visual arts we support as a community say a lot about who we are. At their best, cultural coverage and criticism provide a framework to reflect on and talk to each other about what this means. A city without robust cultural coverage is also full of folks missing many opportunities to engage with the arts -- and with each other.
A year ago, Julie Lasky left the world of glossy design magazines to edit a new, nonprofit, online publication called Change Observer. Dedicated to covering design as social innovation, it's funded by a Rockefeller Foundation grant and launched last July as one of three "channels" of Design Observer. The move marks a significant shift for Lasky, the former editor-in-chief of Interiors and, most recently, I.D., which folded late last year. A 1995-96 NAJP fellow, she spoke by phone about her new venture. This is an edited version of the interview.
In the popular perception, design is associated with luxury, not necessity, let alone politics and social innovation. But Change Observer is explicitly focused on "design strategies aimed globally at improving health, education, housing, and the environment" -- which seems very different from what you were doing at I.D. and Interiors. So is that part of the appeal to you as an editor?
Well, I think that one of the problems, as you say, is it is the public's perception that design is associated with luxury. But, you know, I never thought of design as just simply being an activity to produce consumer objects, and I think both Interiors and I.D. reflected that. So, for instance, we did an entire package of stories related to China, just before the Beijing Olympics, but those stories really went into how do you fashion a vocabulary for what design is bringing to China, and the new developments of design in business in China. Or there was a journal about an industrial designer, trying to navigate his way through the whole system of having things produced, with all the qualms about production in China. So, you know, I don't feel like I ever really stepped away from a mission. I just kind of got a little bit more focused.
Not long ago, you were one of the most prolific freelance book critics in the United States. Now, after a stint as Granta's American editor, you've left New York for London, where you have the top spot on Granta's masthead. Being a freelance critic for (mostly) American newspapers and being the editor of a British literary magazine demand very different skill sets, maybe not so much intellectually as organizationally and socially. How have you made the transition?
That's right -- you could say the Americans and the English are divided by a common language. And not just the words. But I've quite enjoyed it. Granta's history has always been hybrid: an English literary magazine, resurrected by Americans, embraced by the English, and populated by writers from Ingo Schulze to Milan Kundera with of course generous contributions by the profoundly talented British and American novelists who have grown up with us. I think those moments of cultural friction are actually what give the magazine its distinct feel and texture. Managing that and making it into art, rather than something disjointed, is a much bigger challenge than figuring out when it's my turn to buy the round at a pub.
This is the first in a weekly series of interviews with editors.
Sharon Waxman made her name as a journalist in the print world. The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times and New York Times have carried her byline. She is also the author of "Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World," about illicit antiquities, and of "Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System," about the 1990s generation of auteurs. Now Waxman is editor in chief of TheWrap.com, which launched in January 2009 and covers the entertainment business. You've known editors like Waxman: high-energy, hardworking, forward-moving. She's not only editor at TheWrap. She's also a reporter and the CEO. I caught her between a celebrity funeral and a Los Angeles dinner party, at the height of Oscar season. As they say in her town: It was all good. And I got to edit her this time -- that is, what follows is an edited version of our phone conversation.
When you decided to make the leap from reporter to editor, what was that like?
Becoming an editor absolutely seemed like a natural thing to do at this stage in my life because it's very hard for young journalists to find a place to learn about how to be a journalist and to have someone who can teach them the things they know. And I'm in a stage where I would like to give over what I know. I'm also concerned about the fact that, as newsrooms disintegrate, there are very few places for people to learn the basics of journalism, to make mistakes and to have someone help them avoid some mistakes that can become career killers.