CCLP co-sponsors first national summit on arts journalism

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“If a concert happens and no one writes about it, did it really happen?” asked Doug McLennan, co-director of the National Summit on Arts Journalism (NSAJ), a gathering co-sponsored by the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. With over half of the nation’s arts journalists unemployed, the summit explored the future of arts journalism by presenting ten innovative projects and two conversations about the evolving art and reinventing business of arts journalism.

“Our aim here is not to tell you what’s next for arts journalism, but to raise questions, highlight issues and provoke the vigorous discussion we need to have as arts journalism evolves,” CCLP faculty fellow and NSAJ co-director, Sasha Anawalt stated in her opening remarks.

The featured projects included an addition to the arts journalists’ digital toolbox with Sophie; a proof of concept for the limitless design and experiential possibilities of online magazines in FLYP; and the ability to stitch the countless narratives found within the fabric of a community’s story with Departures. Each project was presented during the summit through videos produced by the USC Institute for Multimedia Literacy.

On the evolving “art of arts journalism,” NPR technology and arts reporter Laura Sydell sat down with author and journalist Jeff Chang and New York Times reporter Seth Schiesel, as they discussed the interactivity aspect of arts journalism that builds community and culture.

On every person’s mind, however, was the lack of sustainable business models for arts journalism today. András Szántó, director of the NEA Classical Music Institute, moderated a conversation with Richard Gingras, CEO of Salon.com, and Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, to explore the successful business model of Salon.com and question the role of foundations in supporting coverage of the arts.

Staged in front of a packed house in the Annenberg Auditorium, the summit was also viewed by live audiences at 17 satellite gatherings in places such as the Republic of Moldova, New York City, Boston and the University of Missouri. The program received enough attention throughout the morning that the number of live streams grew to over 500 USTREAM users and the NSAJ was placed on the front page of the USTREAM website.

Stressing the importance of interactivity, the summit included a live Twitter feed that received more than 1,300 tweets over the course of the program. In fact, the virtual discussion continued after the live webcast as tweets continued to pour in for hours after the program concluded.

Today’s entire program is archived and available for viewing here.