June 14, 2005

ARTICLE | Hacks and Flacks: The State of Arts Criticism

by Martha Bayles
Source: Arts Journal

Columbia University reported Monday that it is closing its well known National Arts Journalism Program. AJ helmsman Doug McLennan and fellow blogger Jan Herman have been posting insightful commentary about this, and the LA Times has published a long piece about the decline of traditional criticism ... The overriding problem is what linguist Deborah Tannen calls "the argument culture": the media’s habit of framing every topic as a highly polarized debate between two extremes, even when this is not appropriate. This has a distorting effect on many issues, including the arts. Just think about the quality of discussion, even among reputable critics, on issues like government funding of the arts; violence in entertainment; censorship and the Internet; and the "canon" in the humanities.

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