Local arts coverage in mainstream outlets is struggling to adapt to changes in a new media landscape.
It’s estimated that since 2006, half of 5,000 arts beats have been cut from American newspapers, according to study by the Knight Foundation. Just last week, the grant-maker announced that the Philadelphia Daily News, in partnership with Drexel University, was awarded one of three arts journalism grants for its “Art Attack” project.
Those newsroom losses are also actively being supplemented by independent media locally, if the active community at last night’s Philly Tech Week event on arts blogging has a say in the matter.
At contemporary arts space PhilaMOCA last night in Callowhill, four prominent Philly arts bloggers chatted about the day-to-day operations and aspirations of their publications at Blogging about Philadelphia’s Creative Spaces, a panel put together by Philly.com entertainment editor Leah Kauffman.
The coverage and expertise of the four participating bloggers spanned across the arts community: G.W. Miller III’s Jump Magazine covers Philly’s diverse music scene; Chaucee Stillman’s Streets and Stripes focuses on style and culture in the city; Eric Smith’s Geekadelphia gives the wide geek community a voice; and Conrad Benner’s Streets Dept, is a tribute to local street art (and not the city department).
There was a common bond among them, which they shared with the crowd, a mix of bloggers and artists and those looking to join in the conversation: write about what you love—and start now.
Smith, who founded Geekadelphia in 2008, remembers launching the publication with partner Tim Quirino a few days after coming up with the idea, nodding to the mantra of JFDI: “Just Fucking Do It.”
The conversation explored financial sustainability—all on stage are operating on a part-time basis—with diverse responses.
Stillman worried that advertising could, for now, compromise her voice, while Miller says he has been hitting the streets to sell ad space. For him, the pitch hasn’t been about wide reach; it’s been an ask to support a local community in Philadelphia. If we don’t give musicians a spotlight, they’ll move to New York, he said.
“Philly is at a turning point,” said Benner, who grew up in the Fishtown neighborhood. “It’s great to watch it happen.”