Arts Journalism: The Future is Now

How do you reach an audience when more and more people today are getting their news from Google or Facebook than from a newspaper or the 11 p.m. news? That was a question that the National Summit of Arts Journalism posed and tried to address during a conference on Friday (Oct. 2) at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, which was streamed live with accompanying Twitter commentary.

Produced by the Annenberg School and the National Arts Journalism Program, the summit showcased new models of cultural coverage, with video presentations of 10 projects. Five were selected through an open call this summer that attracted 109 submissions; five others were presented because they reflected broad trends in the field of journalism. Many of these participants stressed the breaking of the fourth wall that used to separate the audience from the journalist: The new media are redefining the roles of audience, curator, artist and journalist. Two-way communication–in terms of audience feedback and discussion–is now the norm.

A few of the day’s highlighted projects include:

  • Sophie – an authoring tool that encourages users to play with relationships between text, image, sound and video in telling stories.
  • NPR Music – their team not only delivers information, but also produces concerts, hosts discussions and presents musicians, trying to convey important elements of the experience itself.
  • – a site striving to be a super aggegator of all things classical music on the Web.
  • Flyp Media – a publication that turns digital story-telling on its ear by building the design aesthetic is into the architecture of the story, intended “not just to make a story look pretty, but to pull a visitor deeper into the ideas or narratives.”
  • Departures – focuses on hyper-local storytelling in a nonlinear fashion.

In addition to the video presentations, there were two roundtable discussions that focused on the art of arts journalism and the business side of arts journalism–with both discussions touching on the topic of writing for free. Will paid journalists be a thing of the past?

Of course, no answers were formulated, but at the end of the day, most attendees left with a message of hopefulness: Rather than lament what’s been lost for journalism, let’s embrace the tools that are evolving now.

To see all of the highlighted projects and/or watch the conference in its entirety, please visit the summit website.

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