Blogging As Art Intervention
On November 7, 2010, artist Katherine Sweetman made an inflammatory and controversial blog post on the San Diego Union Tribune's new Sketchbook blog. The post lasted only 13 hours on the newspaper’s website, but by that time it had already gone viral.
The blog post, its repercussions, and its interpretations have been written about by the Los Angeles Times' Culture Monster blog; ARTINFO.com's Modern Art Notes section; VoiceofSanDiego.org (and response by Union-Tribune Editor Jeff Light); San Diego City Beat; San Diego Reader, the Bay Area Observer blog; the Fishbowl LA blog; San Diego Visual Arts Network blog; the OB RAG blog; EditorsWeblog.org; fnewsmagazine.com; and others.
Ms. Sweetman will discuss her San Diego Union Tribune blog post at the Media Infrastructure session of the Americans for the Arts Public Art Preconference.
Below, please find her initial blog post reprinted in its entirety:
An Introduction/Resignation (A Small Gesture)
In an effort to step up the appearance of supporting the visual arts, The Union Tribune has graciously offered a handful of artists, scholars, and arts professionals the opportunity to write for them -- requiring only one blog post per week (52 per year). And the pay? Oh...no pay.
Arts are very important to the Union Tribune but... so is money.
I accepted one of these positions. It was exciting. There were no rules, no journalistic constraints, no editors, no... tech support. We knew right away we were special.
We were a small army of of advanced-degree carrying practicing artists, college professors, and arts writers ready to take up the challenge of solving the lack of arts coverage in San Diego and fixing the mess the Union Tribune created when it laid off its only Art Critic, Robert Pincus, last June.
We were assured that we were not taking Pincus' place. He had, in fact, been replaced by James Chute, formerly the Music Critic and Special Sections Editor. Chute had never written anything on art before, but he did have a Music degree so... he was clearly qualified to handle visual arts too. But we decided to help him anyway.
And then it hit us.
We hate the Union Tribune.
We hate the way they abruptly ended the tenure of the most important arts critic in San Diego's history. We hate James Chute's pathetic coverage of artists -- which just makes us look bad (seriously, read his stuff).
We hate editor Jeff Light and the private equity corporation pulling his strings.
AND we also hate their conservative politics of the Union Tribune (endorsements of John McCain for president 2008, Whitman 2010, Fiorina 2010, etc.)
It seems, to me, visual artists should be boycotting the Union Tribune not writing for them -- for free!
When I say "we" in the text above, I may only mean me, but you may want to include yourself in the statement "We hate the Union Tribune" if you value paid and knowledgeable arts writers, like having an arts critic, think the people of San Diego are smart enough to want art criticism, or even if you hate their political values.
Yes, it's true it's hard to find a writing gig that pays well. It's hard to find a writing gig that pays at all. But I personally will be taking my all free writing elsewhere.
~ Katherine Sweetman