Arts Journalism Infopool
So what is arts journalism and what does this career involve? The role of the arts journalist is to write about artists, musicians, designers and other creative individuals to the people in the arts industry and the general public. They provide an exposure to the arts which can encourage and inspire people of all ages to share their own creative works with the world. The arts journalist is the conduit through which information flows into the community about the creativity and personal expression happening around them.
If you’ve been thinking about looking into a career in arts journalism, there are some things you should know about the people you write for, what their expectations are and how to gather information. With the right tools at your disposal, you can become a professional journalist able to consistently put out relevant and entertaining content that will help you become a success as an arts journalist.
This can include a wide variety of potential audiences. Those working within the arts industry, such as art gallery managers, art buyers and professional or amateur artists are the likely interested parties. Also, anyone within the general public who has an interest in art or those taking courses in art at universities or pre-college educational levels. Your audience expects that your content will be well thought out and thoroughly researched. They may expect that you have personal experience within the arts industry and have connections with others in the art world.
To be successful as an arts journalist, you need to be able to provide a fresh perspective on your topic that differentiates itself from other sources of information while being an engaging read. Formal education is beneficial, but more important is that you are actually interested in what you write about. You have to be curious enough that you read extensively and immerse yourself in the culture you want to share with the community. You will be expected to deliver relevant and up to date information in a timely manner and have knowledge in an assortment of areas. If you want to qualify for a variety of jobs and speak to as wide an audience as possible, diversify your areas of specialization within the arts industry.
As an arts journalist your job is to engage the public with insight and information that has value. You can achieve this either by direct knowledge and experience in the industry, or by doing extensive research on the subject. Respect the content of what you’re writing. Above all, it’s important to bring something new to the discussion. Approach a subject from a fresh new angle. This will give you a unique voice that can help you get noticed in a crowd of copycats. As most everything has been discussed and analyzed at some point, value is derived from uniqueness.
Arts journalism covers a wide variety of topics. While it’s okay to have a primary focus, as discussed earlier, a professional arts journalist needs to have in-depth knowledge in a variety of areas. These can include music, theater, film, visual arts, television, pop culture, fashion, architecture and design. Any form of artistic expression is relevant to the arts journalist.
In the past, being an art journalist meant working for a specific publication or media venue. The employer would find the arts journalist an interview with an artist or send them on a trip to the latest museum exhibit. Now arts journalism is chiefly a self-promoted and self-employed profession. There are still more traditional jobs available, but they are among the minority. The internet has changed the career of the arts journalist to the point that many are now freelance.
So, how do you find interesting topics to write about? You have to have enough of a genuine interest in the arts that you find pleasure in reading everything you can about the arts mediums you enjoy. Whether you attend the exhibits, watch the films, or closely follow the careers of the painters, performers, fashion designers, musicians or actors.
As an arts journalist, you have to have your finger on the pulse of the industry. This has always been the case with all forms of journalism. Even with the drastic changes the profession of arts journalism has undergone due to the widespread migration to a digital format, this core aspect of journalism hasn’t changed. If you start networking with people, speak to artists and engage in the community as a whole, you’re bound to be exposed to interesting ideas and individuals that are worth writing about. Despite some people’s view that technology is killing creativity, if you get out into the world and seek new experience, you’ll find that creativity is still alive and well. From the well-established musician, to the performance artist out on the street struggling to pay his rent, stories are found in many places.
As with any career, you can’t survive on principals alone. It’s important to know where you can find the paying employers that provide you with the money you need to continue doing what you love. Art gallery owners and managers will pitch stories to arts journalists to generate interest in a new exhibit. New musicians and bands looking to promote their music can benefit from having a journalist cover them online or in a magazine. Artists, art dealers or anyone else involved with promoting artists want positive publicity of their activities. Even an auction house can benefit from having media coverage of artwork being auctioned off. To summarize: Museums, art galleries, auction houses, mixed art institutions, bands, dance groups, designers and architects all benefit from the publicity offered by the arts journalist.
How do you go about getting the relevant information together to report on your subject? Interviews with artists and art purveyors help significantly. Thoroughly educating yourself on an established topic by reading and networking is also an effective way to obtain information. Discussing the work of the artist with interested people in the public can also be useful.
Interviews play an essential role in getting the impressions of the artist concerning their own work. What are these artists trying to say with their work? What motivates them? Why do they do what they do? Interviews are also useful in finding out how a gallery manager or auction house representative wants to be promoted. What is the gallery manager’s interest and personal investment in their gallery? What does the public think about that gallery? What does it bring to the community? Does that auction house care about preservation of the art they sell? Ask good questions and get information from the source. This way, you’re creating a well-investigated piece of journalism, rather than simply offering the personal opinion of a critic.
Learning personal objectivity and how to verify your content are important skills in journalism. A quality journalist rethinks their assumptions and backs up content with evidence. In the online marketplace, content is delivered at a lightning-fast pace. This is very different from the traditional journalistic practices of the past, which were given more time between the writing of a piece to final publication. The longer time period allowed the journalist to consider the facts before the content was released to the public. This was beneficial with a potentially controversial topic, when the implications of a piece could be contemplated before publication instead of delivering a message on impulse.
What do the ethics for art journalism entail in a profession that must provide instant news and analysis, where anyone can be an amateur journalist or critic through their personal blogs, YouTube, social media and other sites? Traditional journalism relies on the application of accuracy, pre-publication verification, and balance and tone within the work. Online journalism turns these old ethical mainstays on their head, relying instead on immediacy, partiality, transparency and post-publication error-correction. Content is often produced by non-professional journalists who may or may not have formal training in the ethical considerations of the journalistic profession.
How can an arts journalist make sure he or she reports in an ethically sound way? Re-establish the facts by personally investigating sources. As stated above, a professional journalist reports in an objective way. Don’t slander an artist if moral questions are involved, report on the information in an objective manner and reference other people’s viewpoints on the subject. Untangle the conflicts between personal values. You must decide which principles should be preserved and discarded. In arts journalism, more often than political and news journalism, ethics involves staying true to the facts while still creating entertaining and enjoyable content. Don’t make up information and try to pass it off as fact. If you follow a strong ethical standard of professional conduct, you help to ensure that your reputation remains well-received and repeat work is more likely to be offered to you in the future.
It’s estimated that about 150 billion U.S. dollars each year are spent on arts and culture-related goods in the U.S. This includes a wide array of goods and services from museums, audio and video media, books, tickets and live performances. It’s estimated that the yearly attendance at performing arts events in the U.S. alone numbers almost a hundred million people per year. The arts industry employs over 1.5 million people to serve these needs.
Although some would argue that the television industry is suffering from the competition generated by the internet and interactive gaming, it is still widely available to nearly ninety percent of the U.S. population and it’s said that the average American watches about 2.5 hours of TV daily. Even with the threat of new forms of entertainment competing with television, in recent years a great deal of financial investment has been made in creating new shows full of quality entertainment. This has helped to improve the retention of viewers and TV revenue is expected to increase by around five percent in 2017.
Print media, on the other hand, is getting hit harder by the availability of digital information online. Newspapers have been hit the worst and the availability of jobs for an arts journalist have all but evaporated. Magazines are also on the decline, but jobs can still be found among specialist magazines such as Art News, Artforum, Juxtapoz or ArtLtd.
The online marketplace has exploded in the last decade. It’s said that over forty percent of the world’s population has access to the internet and that yearly retail sales amount to trillions of dollars. Many forms of journalism have found a place online and the arts are no exception. Many of the jobs you’ll find as an arts journalist can be found online either as a correspondent for an established company, or through employers finding your online blog and personal portfolio.
If you love to write and have a passion for the arts, you may enjoy becoming an arts journalist. It’s challenging to be a full-time arts journalist in our digital age. But even if you choose not to work full-time, it’s still a fun and rewarding way to supplement your other employment. Arts journalists are needed to promote public understanding on the contribution that the arts make to a healthy and creative society. Public awareness about the various forms of art around us contributes to the cultural vitality of our communities. It also encourages creativity in people of all ages who can become inspired by the arts. An arts journalist is required for this function.
Journalists have always kept their finger on the pulse of the world to provide the facts and information people need to know what’s going on in their community. With arts journalism, you get to share something you find enjoyable with others in your community as well as with those abroad. It’s one of the great pleasures in life to find something you love and then seek out others who can enjoy it with you. With arts journalism you can do this while making an income. It wouldn’t be going too far to say that the arts journalist directly helps to influence future generations of artists by chronicling information that will be available to the public for years to come.
Those are many of the points that must be addressed in order to start you on the path to success as an arts journalist. It’s a highly competitive and challenging path to travel. It requires that you take the time to do thorough research and build a sizable portfolio of well-written, quality content.
The career of arts journalist has undergone drastic transformation since the emergence of the internet. Many arts journalists have been transitioning from the fading medium of print magazines and newspapers to the online environment of personal blogs, online forums, social media and professional websites dedicated to the arts. While these digital formats are becoming the more prevalent means of work within arts journalism, there are still more traditional jobs out there. Often these can be found through work with galleries, museums, various art companies and, yes, arts magazines and other print media.
The route to success is filled with obstacles to overcome. But as with any path you set out on in life, if you have passion and discipline, you have the highest chance of achieving your goals. If you love art in its various forms and want to share new and exciting ideas with the world, a career in arts journalism is a great way to find work doing something you enjoy.