Saturday, November 13, 2010

Business matters: Arts Dispatch goes back online

By Barry Johnson

Sometimes business of various sorts gets in the way of my blogging. So let it be with this week. What business you may ask? Well, various.

Most important, I had a flurry of activity around the non-profit arts journalism project I'm attempting to start. I hesitate to type this: My wife has said that she can think of no more boring formulation in the entire world than "non-profit arts journalism project." I fear she is correct. It's a complex idea, and it has involved hundreds of conversations with lots of different people during the past 10 months or so.

On Tuesday, Michael Andersen, the proprietor of Portland Afoot, and I started a six-part mini-column on entrepreneurial journalism for the online version of the Columbia Journalism Review. You can find the basics of what I'm trying to do there, if you want. And if the next few weeks go well, I may be able to announce something officially, but critical mass is still a few negotiations away, I'm afraid. Mr. Andersen has his idea fully operational -- a guide to living car-lite in the Portland metro area -- and it's well worth visiting the site and subscribing to his monthly update.  It's one thing to WANT to use your car less and another thing to have the tools to DO it -- Portland Afoot will give you those tools.

Both Michael and I are part of group called the Oregon News Incubator. It's a non-profit dedicated to helping journalists (print, video, audio) as they adapt to the new media environment. Which you know is tough to figure out these days.  ONI has several initiatives that have already hit the street. One involves "work groups," which attempt to reconstruct the camaraderie and support of the newsroom. These meet four times a week at various coffeeshops around town -- you can find the schedule on the website. And Wednesday, ONI held its first public panel discussion, which brought five assigning editors from various Portland publications (including the online ReadWriteWeb) to talk about what sorts of freelance journalism opportunities they offer.

ONI is small, but it's the sort of initiative we need to make sure that accountable, transparent, important journalism is practiced in our city. And we're always looking for new members!

This week I saw An Iliad at Portland Center Stage and the Martha Graham Dance Company, and I hope to have some thoughts about those on Arts Dispatch before the weekend is over.

I'm also worried about Mayor Sam Adams' seemingly unquenchable desire to plant a big, fat expensive development in the Rose Quarter, using a huge dollop of public money to leverage the chance for very wealthy people to get much wealthier without a lot of risk to themselves. Needless to say, I am not convinced by any part of the "plan" that Adams and his Blazer buddies have revealed so far. Arts Dispatch is interested because of its concern for thoughtful urban design and democratic practices. And an "entertainment district" is at the heart of the idea. I started to write "PLASTIC entertainment district," but I held off. Until now.

So that's on our mind, too, though a post will require a good bit more research.

1 comment:

Michael, Portland Afoot said...

Barry, I think "non-profit transportation journalism project" gives you a run for your money at the very least.

Anyway, I really appreciate the shoutout! Talk to you Monday. And happy negotiations.