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After it laid off iconic visual arts critic Bob Pincus last summer, the Union-Tribune tried to appease indignant people in the arts community by asking local artists, art scholars and professionals to make blog posts -- for free. Yesterday (Nov. 7), one of the contributors, Katherine Sweetman, rebelled. "We hate the Union-Tribune," she said in a blog item. "We hate the way they abruptly ended the tenure of the most important arts critic in San Diego's history....We hate editor Jeff Light and the private equity corporation ([Platinum Equity] pulling his strings...It seems to me, visual artists should be boycotting the Union-Tribune and not writing for them -- for free...I personally will be taking all my free writing elsewhere." She got a wave of positive response.

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Comments

nativesd Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:57 a.m.

Don

As someone still reading the UT, albeit in less and less time by the week, the arts problem is compounded by the fact that most of these arts community people can neither write cogently nor pitch their comments to readers not already steeped in arts lingo.

The in-house nature of the pieces stands in stark contrast to the rest of the paper, especially in the news sections, where every effort is made to dumb down descriptions to the point where denizens of the San Diego Zoo are probably feeling pandered to!!

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katherinesweetman Nov. 8, 2010 @ 10:23 a.m.

article finally pulled from the UT (13 hours later)

reposted here without permission:

My First and Last Article for the Union Tribune 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.

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 10:32 a.m.

Response to post #1: This is the dilemma of all writers and editors. You want to reach as broad an audience as possible, but you don't want to dumb down a column or blog item so much that it is of no interest to those who really understand the topic. I'll give you an example: in a blog item, or a response to someone's comment, I may discuss quantitative easing and the possible collateral damage, such as collapse of the dollar and something akin to competitive devaluations that caused so much havoc in the 1930s. Right off the bat, I know I am losing a large part of the audience. But I am reaching a very significant part of our readership. I try to aim most writing to a broad audience, but sometimes I have to toss in the towel. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 10:34 a.m.

Response to post #2: Yes, that is the item. Thanks for providing the whole thing. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource Nov. 8, 2010 @ 2:03 p.m.

Regardless of the lack of taste I have for writing anything in the U-T (where I am obviously and obliviously only qualified to mouth off in the Opinion section), I am concerned about losing that news source altogether, biased and evil or not.

I blog here for free. I try to blog-cover the proceedings of California's Public Utilities Commission over San Diego Gas and Electric Company and Sempra Energy, especially as to future rate hikes that most people in San Diego are totally unaware of specifically, even though they suspect them coming in general. I take on other issues as they get thrown in my face.

It has been a privilege to do this under the First Amendment, for pay or not for pay. It's still a privilege.

The Reader is simply not equipped at this time or in the near term to fill the void if the U-T were to go under. If the U-T did go under, then for the most part hard news in this town would be limited to 30-60 seconds worth of talking points on TV, and the only art coverage this town would see on any video media source with significant market share is whatever stupid outfit the Carlsbad Kook happened to be wearing by dawn's early light. On the other hand, Reader advertising revenues should spike appropriately and may remain high over time, as if there were plastic surgeons who weren't already taking out Reader ads in the first place.

The Reader needs to step up its objective news coverage on all topics, or at least encourage others to blog FOR FREE in those areas that need coverage, where free coverage by bloggers is the ongoing practice here at the Reader, occasional prizes notwithstanding.

With all that said, IT IS A GOOD THING to take a stand and be prepared to publish on it when folded, spindled, and stifled by a former employer, as if blogging for free qualified as employment!

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BradleyFikes Nov. 8, 2010 @ 2:21 p.m.

a2zresource 2,

Don's blog at The Reader has readers at the North County Times (me, for example), who are keenly interested. I'm glad Don is keeping up the coverage, and that others comment here with their own findings.

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Visduh Nov. 8, 2010 @ 4:14 p.m.

I fully agree with most of what a2zresource said about the importance of reporting and the void that would be left by the failure of the U-T, AT THIS TIME. But the ready access to media by bloggers--if they get read--is actually a positive thing. In the past, the barriers to entry into the serious newspaper business meant that publishers such as Copley could "sew up" a major city, and decide what was news and what was not. In San Diego the last true rival to Copley's monopoly was the San Diego Independent, which gave up the ghost just about 40 years ago. I know that there was a push by the Harte-Hanks news chain to set up a rival set of papers that started in the early 70's and died out about 1980. H-H spent a bundle on that attempt and scarcely made a dent. Then in the late 70's, the L A Times made a big push into San Diego, going as far as to print a special edition for SD County only every day. The recession of the early 90's ended that. Nobody seemed to be able to rival the combination of the Union and the Tribune and make a serious inroad into their dominance or to develop adequate subscribership. Now, secular trends of readership have done to the U-T what rivals could never do: weaken the paper to a point where its continued existence is in doubt.

But this new information technology is changing things. In a generation, we may no longer need a published newspaper or cyber paper. News reporting may be more of a civic activity that allows all to participate, and be totally dispersed into a computing cloud.

Yes, I lament the decline of the newspaper because I'm too old to live without daily paper(s). But all may not be as bleak as some predict.

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sdvan Nov. 8, 2010 @ 5:25 p.m.

We are NOT thrilled at all to see that some wonderful writers are being given an opportunity to write a blog for the Union Tribune on the arts for NO PAY. Not all the articles will make it into the print edition that will be financially rewarded but the Sketchbook Blogs online are introduced by David Forbes and are giving space to Joe Nalven, Richard Geaves, William Parson, Drew Synder, and Allesandra Moctezuma. Letting Robert Pincus go was bad enough, but getting these artists to write on spec is outrageous. It is like the UT is holding the art world to ransom because if these writers do not write, how will we get coverage. Here is our cry to SD art writers: If you are going to write for free….write for www.SDVisualArts.net and serve an organization that gives back to the community.

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a2zresource Nov. 8, 2010 @ 6:41 p.m.

Visduh does have a point about advancing technology AND the improved infrastructure mean to us, especially in San Diego where large numbers have Internet-capable laptops and other portable devices.

I, an old computer science and data processing graduate from the late 1980s, am realizing great productivity gains with wifi just installed last month in the old folks' home...

As for Visduh mentioning barriers being broken down by access to such sites as the Reader's, it is what has enabled me to at least PRETEND I was a journalist from 2008 to now. We can only hope that more of us pick a niche and decide to go for it as well. At the same time, there are people already writing really good stuff here that I am still discovering just now. Maybe its a function of more of us being more aware of what is already available?

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:34 p.m.

Response to post #5: I doubt if the U-T will be going under any time soon. Its owners claim it is profitable now, but, of course, Platinum Equity is a private equity firm that normally flips its investments after a 3 to 5 year holding period. (It will be longer this time because of the commercial real estate industry collapse.) It's likely that at some point the ink-and-paper version will disappear. But the online version will be around a long time, I would guess, no matter who owns it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:40 p.m.

Response to post #7: Blogs have two-way communications that newspapers aren't matching, even online. For example, is there anybody in the San Diego market other than myself who answers online blog posts? There may be, but I am not aware of such a person. The future is online, but newspapers still have a generation or two to go.You have your finger on the right thing: the media's dictation of what is news and what is not. That's their Achilles heel. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:45 p.m.

Response to post #8: This may be the time for San Diego Visual Arts Network to expand, if it has the resources. There is a market out there. Bob Pincus proved that. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:47 p.m.

Response to post #9: You make a valid point. There is so much stuff out there that it is difficult to carve out a market. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 8, 2010 @ 7:51 p.m.

Response to post #6: It's crucial to have the commentary, yea or nay. This is what disputation is all about. Best, Don Bauder

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Copleys_Taint Nov. 10, 2010 @ 1:49 p.m.

What arts coverage? When you invite a ten-year-old child, no matter how adorable and precocious he may be, to second guess your film critic something is screwy.

For years the U-T avoided blogs; they were above all that. Now their aversion appears to have shifted over to editors. They should change the 'T' in Union-Tribune to "Typos." Had they shelled out a few hundred a week to hire a journalism student to edit their copy maybe commie agitators like Ms. Sweetwater couldn't have their say.

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nan shartel Nov. 10, 2010 @ 3 p.m.

bring it to us Katherine...i feel sorry for the Trib...is goes the way of entities where the ARTS are the first to get the hatchett

you can summit pictures here with the creator's permission...the READER in spite of it's shabby plastic surgeons ads is not the 8 sheeter of old...it's a whole magazine now (still with all the shabby plastic surgeons ads)

but well worth reading...especially online!!!

bring us your expertise and we will be grateful ;)

JMO

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nan shartel Nov. 10, 2010 @ 3:07 p.m.

11

u b right Bauder...and that's why u get so many comments

u put in ur frank and honest 2cents...stand aside when peeps want to cyber tousle and accept the right of everyone to have their own opinion

my above comment was JMO...but i'd love to see more arts and graphics here...JAS does a great and impressive job...his cartooning is much visited in the READER

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 3:49 p.m.

Response to post #15: The U-T doomed itself to typos and bad grammar when it removed a layer of editors. Reporters are expected to tweet, post an item online and post another version of the same story in the morning paper. Editors aren't checking. Of course, I should talk: I post so many of these responses (12,000 or 13,000 in a couple of years) that I make some typos and just don't have time to read the copy that closely before I click to let it go up. There is no editor looking it over. There is a superb editor (plus others) that go over my weekly columns, though. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 3:51 p.m.

Response to post #16: At the Reader, we do the best we can. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 4:13 p.m.

Response to post #17: Gee, I hope my opinions are worth more than 2 cents. Maybe 3 cents? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Nov. 10, 2010 @ 7:25 p.m.

Oh, where do I start and where do I stop? Ok, re: #11:

RESPONSIVENESS is what drives honest dialog. Manipulators are non-responsive. As long as they have customers or readers, they will edge out responsive journalism (government, management, ad nauseam), because it requires an enormous amount of work--in Don's case, it is one "against" the multitudes. The irony is, the more successful the writer, the more feedback he/she gets, the harder the job of being responsive is. Like right here. Don will read this, taking up time he could be using relaxing and writing.

What's the solution to this dilemma?

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Don Bauder Nov. 10, 2010 @ 9:03 p.m.

Response to post #21: First, I am semi-relaxing. I am listening to Haydn symphonies as I respond to blog posts. Yes, responding to posts is exhausting. But in most cases I am just trying to move the polemics along. If somebody wants me to look up something, I usually change the subject, unless it is a question that really interests me. So I am more of a catalyst. I learn from you folks. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Nov. 10, 2010 @ 9:15 p.m.

17

in this economy ur asking for a raise Bauder???

i'll have to get back to u on that..hahahahaha ;-)

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nan shartel Nov. 10, 2010 @ 9:18 p.m.

22

his "trumpet concerto allegro" perhaps

Immortal Beauty will be so glad another classical music lover has outed himself ;-)

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 7:50 a.m.

Response to post #23: You'e right, Nan. Getting a boost from 2 cents to 3 cents is a 50% raise. Shame on me for asking. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 7:51 a.m.

Response to post #24: Haydn wrote some beautiful stuff for trumpet. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:41 p.m.

26

i'm ecstatic over Barogue trumpet

here a gift of "The Prince of Denmark March" with Baroque trumpet

did u play trumpet at one time Don??


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nan shartel Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:47 p.m.

25

ur bad!

but worth the raise....hahahahahaha...consider it approved!!! ;-{}

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Twister Nov. 11, 2010 @ 12:47 p.m.

The newsprint tradition on insisting that a story be dropped when it no longer "has legs" is its Achilles' Heel. A newspaper or on-line entity that maintained a continuum such that the final disposition was the story's end would get my vote, my eyeballs, and my respect.

Newspapers are dying on the vine or on-line because they are not adapting to an increasingly savvy readership. It's not that that readership lacks a long attention-span, it is that that readership wants relevance, continuity, and interconnection. I want to grab a good, reusable and recyclable rag off the newsstand, read it on the train, scribble notes, then, once at my Internet device, quickly find it on the website, click on its references, verify its sources and connect with its relevant connections or digressions and re-form my mind without being manipulated.

R.I.P. "traditional" journalism, enter integrated, comprehensive, information and stimulus.

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:54 p.m.

Response to post #27: Never played any musical instrument. Love trumpet -- renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, 20th century and contemporary. Especially love oboe. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:57 p.m.

Response to post #28: When I was with the U-T, the librarians regularly did a wonderful job for me. I would always tell them, "If I have anything to say about it, you will have a 50% raise tomorrow morning." They laughed. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 11, 2010 @ 3:01 p.m.

Response to post #29: I agree with you. One of the advantages of the online publications is the ability to pick up stories from the recent past. Every once in awhile, though, I will click one and forget that it's three months old. We elderly folks get confused watching a football game on TV: they will show a play from a game the same two teams played ten years earlier; we think it's the current game. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Nov. 13, 2010 @ 4:20 p.m.

32

old folks!!!

stoppit!!!

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha....i often have to give a talking 2 to my teflon mind

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2010 @ 8:42 p.m.

Response to post #33: Talking to yourself is another sign of what I have been writing about. I do it frequently -- much more frequently. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Nov. 13, 2010 @ 8:44 p.m.

Response to post #34: The euphemism for slippage at our age is "short term memory loss." Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel Nov. 14, 2010 @ 10:10 a.m.

36

everything else about our age range refers to slippage...hahahahahahaha

u have to admit Don...it's a much cuter word...;-D

hey.. guess what.. i got a word accepted by the Urban Dictionary!!!!

yippee!!!

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nan shartel Nov. 14, 2010 @ 10:13 a.m.

35

if u move back to San Diego at sea level more 02 will get to ur brain youngster

that thin air there is a smaller percent of oxygen...totally wrong for clear thinking ;-D

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Don Bauder Nov. 15, 2010 @ 12:43 p.m.

Response to post #s 37 and 38: My head suffers from thin air and thin hair. Best, Don Bauder

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