In the Dallas and Fort Worth daily newspapers, there will no longer be separate reviews of many cultural organizations and events. The two city papers, the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, have begun running the same review by the same writer. It's the latest development in what has been a series of cutbacks affecting area arts reporting and reviewing. With newspapers across the country facing serous financial problems, maintaining an individual, local critic's voice is no longer a priority, even when the arts in question are locally based.
A month ago, the Morning News and the Star-Telegram announced that the former rivals may collaborate in unspecified ways — beyond the joint distribution agreement the companies had already arranged. Frontburner, the D Magazine blog, ran a memo by DMN editor Bob Mong that said those unspecified ways would include "a few targeted areas of newsgathering."
It became clear this past weekend what this will entail for North Texas arts: The two papers will run a single, shared review. In effect, there will be a single daily newspaper arts staff unevenly divided between the two newsrooms. The Star-Telegram, for example, doesn't have a classical music critic on staff, but the Morning News does, so the News' critic apparently takes over many of the duties for both cities. In visual arts, on the other hand, the Morning News doesn't have a staff critic, but the Fort Worth paper does — and so on.
Both dailies have recently undergone buyouts and layoffs that reduced the number of writers and editors in their arts departments. The work of the few staff reviewers who remain are already augmented by a small pool of freelancers. The work of these freelancers, it seems, will also now be shared.
Hat tip: Romenesko
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