Absolutely fascinating article in The Observer this weekend about how the rise of bloggers is leading to stacks of professional critics being given the boot by newspapers.
One thing that struck me about the article was the pompous, arrogance of print-media critics typified by Brian Sewell, art critic of the Evening Standard, who declared: â€œThe onlooker sees most. We are the skilled onlookers.”
Yes, I agree you are skilled Brian, but have the humility to get involved in the discussion. And wake up to the fact that the media is changing. Nowadays you need to engage your audience. Many blogging-critics do this. Plus they grasp the immediacy of the medium.
Nowadays thereâ€™s immediate response and commentary on the Net; newspapers are struggling to keep up with the pace of Ents reviewing.
Michael Billington, The Guardian’s theatre critic for more than 35 years, at least recognizes the need for critics to embrace new media practice. Then again, he works for the publishers of a newspaper which, historically, has embraced the online world with more enthusiasm than others.
Billington has been forced to join the debate on the web. His first piece for Guardian Unlimited (now guardian.co.uk) was about The Sultan’s Elephant, a public art installation involving a huge mechanical pachyderm striding through London in 2006.
â€œI wrote a piece attacking it and got hundreds of comments,â€ says Billingon. â€œThey clobbered me. I wasn’t used to getting such a responseâ€¦I was suddenly aware that there was an army of people with opinions as strong as mine. Journalists of my generation have to adapt. And we have to accept that the printed word no longer has aristocratic supremacy.â€
For all The Guardianâ€™s pro-blog approach, however, the article still fails to provide any links to the actual blogs it mentions. Typical.