Sunday, July 24, 2011

Arts Dispatch family business: Welcome to the family, Oregon Arts Watch!

By Barry Johnson

Wow! I know I've been gone a LONG time, and I should have explained myself LONG before now.

Mostly, I've been working on a new arts and culture journalism site, Oregon Arts Watch. A lot of other people have been working on it, too. And a couple of weeks ago, we launched a "starter kit" website, while our ace web designer builds a more functional and distinctive site for us. I hope you'll make your way over there. So far, the primary contributors are Brett Campbell, Lisa Radon and I, but more writers are working on stories as we speak.

For starters, we're going to focus on theater, dance, classical music and jazz, and visual arts, though we've already lurched into film and TV. If things work out, we'll deal with almost anything cultural.

The prime driver of Oregon Arts Watch is the observation that journalism (broadly speaking) as a profession is starting to disappear, especially journalism aimed at the cultural life we share together. The struggles of American newspapers and the news departments of radio and television stations is well know. At the same time, we observed that the practices of journalism needed to change, too, that the inquiry at the heart of all good journalism needed to be more open-minded, transparent and rigorous than what it had become.  Oregon Arts Watch is a non-profit, and we couldn't in good conscience ask for public support without reforming the way we did business.

What about Arts Dispatch? I'm going to try to keep it going. For starters, I'm going to post the little columns I'm writing for Oregon Public Broadcasting's Arts & Life page here each Monday. Those are little wrap-ups of what I ran into over the weekend. After that, we'll just have to see. Right now, I can imagine a lot of things that I'd want to put into a personal blog that I would NOT want to post on a more general journalism site. The question is time: Getting Oregon Arts Watch started has consumed a lot of that, and I just know that keeping it going will, too. As I said, we'll see.

For those of you who have visited, my deepest thanks. And if I think I can't do a better job of keeping this site operational, I'll let you know, and we'll give it a little vacation!

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