300 Queen Anne Ave N., #618
Seattle, WA 98109
206.322.2938
NEWS ITEM

July 31, 2007

NATIONAL ARTS JOURNALISM PROGRAM ANNOUNCES REOPENING

CONTACT: DOUGLAS McLENNAN Acting Director
mclennan@najp.org

(206) 322-2938

Alumni and friends of the National Arts Journalism Program are happy to announce that the NAJP is resuming operations. The newly-reconstituted NAJP will be the largest association of working arts journalists in America and will take a leading role in supporting the field of arts journalism. With a core membership of 131 alumni, the reinvented NAJP will expand to welcome working arts journalists of all disciplines.

The new NAJP will work to:

  • Advocate for arts reporting and criticism

  • Improve the quality and increase the quantity of arts journalism

  • Inform the public and the media industry of standards of excellence in arts journalism

  • Support and mentor arts journalists

  • Provide a network for arts journalists in all disciplines.

A seven-member board has been elected by the membership. Board members include John Rockwell, Robert Christgau, Laura Sydell, Lily Tung, John Horn, Laura Collins-Hughes, and Douglas McLennan. Rockwell, until recently a longtime critic for The New York Times, has been elected Chairman of the board, Christgau is vice-chairman, and McLennan, the founder and editor of ArtsJournal.com, is Acting Director. NAJP will collaborate with a number of organizations on projects supporting arts journalism.

"Journalism in general is in upheaval right now," said McLennan, "and arts and cultural journalism is being transformed underneath us. Arts journalism as we have known it in the past 50 years will look very different five years from now, and NAJP should be part of the conversation about how the arts will be covered in America."

"Recent cuts in cultural journalism in the traditional press are troubling. Every week comes word that another newspaper is cutting its arts staff, and the erosion of arts coverage will have a profound impact on the arts in America. But I believe we stand on the verge of a new age of cultural journalism as both the quantity of and access to culture expands. Historically, critics have made their most important contributions during times of great cultural change. The new NAJP will be arguing for a vigorous renewal of critical discourse in America."

The Pew Charitable Trusts, which created NAJP in 1994 and was its primary funder for 12 years, has provided generous development funding to reestablish NAJP. Whereas the original NAJP was initially conceived primarily as a fellowship program for mid-career journalists, the new organization will be a membership service organization based on a distributed organizational model. The new NAJP will be nominally located in Seattle, but NAJP's activities will be national.

In partnership with others, NAJP will collaborate on fellowships; conduct conferences, seminars and research; support networking of arts journalists; help in articulating best practices and ethical standards; support existing critics organizations; and be a clearing house for information about the field. First order of business will be expanding membership to working arts journalists. Information about joining the new NAJP can be found at www.najp.org .

NAJP's History

NAJP opened in September 1994 as a mid-career fellowship program. The core of the program was the coveted year-long fellowships, designed to give outstanding mid-career arts journalists opportunities to study and broaden their skills. The new distributed NAJP has its roots in the program's initial DNA. In its first three years, under the leadership of founding director Abe Peck, NAJP was located at four universities: Columbia University, Northwestern, the University of Southern California, and the University of Georgia.

In 1997, the program was consolidated at Columbia under the leadership of Michael Janeway. Over the next nine years, NAJP conducted the first-ever research to measure that state of arts journalism in the American press. Reports included two national snapshots of arts coverage: Reporting the Arts (1999) and Reporting the Arts II (2005). Both have been widely cited as primary indicators of the health/state of arts journalism.

NAJP also surveyed the state of criticism in the fields of architecture, theatre, classical music, publishing and TV. NAJP also acted as an important convener of conferences, bringing together journalists and cultural experts to discuss cultural issues. In its first 12 years, NAJP awarded 131 fellowships for arts journalists. The alumni roster includes many of America's foremost cultural journalists, working for the full spectrum of the country's news organizations. A full list can be found at: http://www.najp.org/fellowships/pastfellows.html

For more information about NAJP, please contact:

Douglas McLennan,
Acting Director
mclennan@najp.org

(206) 322-2938 or

John Rockwell,
Board Chairman,
rockwell.johns@gmail.com

(212) 941-1875

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