Critic axed by Cleveland Orch?

April 3, 2009
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The fascinating story of the battle between The Cleveland Plain Dealer, its high-profile music critic, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra has been a long-standing buzz topic in the arts world.

In short, critic consistantly writes negatively about maestro. Symphony pressures newspaper. Newspaper demotes critic.

The play by play is more complicated than that. You can--and, if you are remotely interested in arts and media, should--read the play by play in Cleveland Magazine's recent article here.

My question? What should happen when the pen of the critic for the paper of record consistantly draws blood from a top-dog arts organization?  Did the inevitable happen or was there another solution to the problem? And, ultimately, were the readers served?

Your thoughts?
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  • Anyone else see the irony of a newspaper called the Plain Dealer firing a guy for speaking too plainly?

    Every major market newspaper has a sports writer on staff who regularly lambastes the home team, calls for the firing of coaches and players, and generally holds every game to superhuman standards. They attract bags of hate mail from readers and get badmouthed or brushed off by owners, coaches, and players as a matter of course. But they keep their jobs.

    Why? They sell newspapers. People may hate Bob Kravitz, but they buy the Star and read him just to get mad at him. They expect him to hold athletes' feet to the fire and make cranky comments.

    Meanwhile, arts reviewers merely add color to a section of the paper that fewer people read. Also, I'd argue that lots of arts audiences are inordinately generous to institutions like orchestras - when's the last time you went to an orchestra concert that DIDN'T get a standing ovation? - and many arts administrators think that critics owe them some kind of knee-jerk appreciation just because they're lovers of the arts and we're all in this together . . . or some such thing.

    I think perhaps the Plain Dealer missed a chance to play up the drama and maybe sell a few newspapers. The bottom line probably was that it wouldn't have made nearly as much difference as the sales generated by whatever crank sports writer they have on staff (and I guarantee they have one) - so they folded rather than backing their man.

    This is not a sports = bad/arts = good argument. On the contrary, I think maybe arts organizations and news media could learn a lesson from the relationship of the sports writers and sports teams. On one side, don't be so darned sensitive when someone doesn't like your work. On the other, stick to your guns and let the critic call it like s/he sees it.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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