Sunday September 4, 2005

The Herald's arts coverage

In the Herald today, Elisa Turner reviews the show at the MAC we told you about back in July. Now you’re going to hear the Artblog crew bemoan that the MAC is getting another write-up, when the “much more deserving” Olitski show earlier this year got no coverage at all by local print media. There’s really no need for this to be an either-or situation, though: one review of a show per week would cover anything worth covering in Miami, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that of a major newspaper. The Herald fails us in this respect, and it fails us in many other ways, too. For example, notice that the review is running one week before the closing date of the show.

Now, suppose you wanted to see what other art exhibits the Herald’d covered recently. You might go to the story and click on the Visual Arts link in the sidebar, expecting to see said story prominently mentioned, followed maybe by a list of older visual arts stories, perhaps listed by author. No such luck: the link instead takes you to a mostly blank page that allows you to click on “listings” for Museums, Galleries, and Classes. It also gives you a brief bio of, of all things, the Herald’s architecture critic. (Why no other bios? Because this person is the Herald’s only writer who relates to this category – Elisa Turner is a freelancer, as is anyone who’s written about art in the Herald in a long time.)

The “listings,” by the way, are totally broken. We tried clicking on Galleries, and were taken to an unattractive listings page (1 of 8!) on which the first record was “821” (apparently a database error), the second record was “Actors’ Playhouse” (not a gallery, duh), and the third and fourth records were both “Ambrosino Gallery,” each providing slightly different fragments of information (at least they both agreed on the address, though neither gave any hint of what was going on there).

This is broken beyond belief, even before you consider that most people who would click on this link are interested in opening reception information. The Herald should be shamed that Franklin, working alone and for free, provides this information about a hundred times better then them. Over at Artblog we’ve frequently discussed the Herald’s failures in covering the arts; it shows little hope of improving. Is it too expensive to hire someone to write one review per week, and allocate a half of some clerk’s time to gathering useful art listings? It’s a tough sell when you consider that the Herald pays someone to do this.

Update: Franklin responds.

Also, a little more poking around shed light on the archiving issue: while the Herald is a little more lax about letting you see older articles, they still have a system in place where they charge heavily for older content. I don’t know what kind of major cash they’re taking in with this system, but I just want to go on record as saying that St. Huck hilariously and definitively disproved the profitability of this sort of system with real math(!) back in 1998. The New York Times, which he was specifically addressing, has seen the light, making all their archives (back to 1851!) available online for free. (oops . . . wrong!)

And another thing! The “charge” link above, points out this:

The Miami Herald Archive contains no photos, charts, or graphics.

WTF?! Were hard disk prices really so outrageous in the 90s that this stuff couldn’t be archived? But the real crying shame is that even now, when the Herald is feebly attempting to incorporate “multimedia” (the little icons next to some article headlines . . . it’s really pretty pathetic) content, the question should be begged of why online newspapers deal with photos so terribly badly. Why do we get little 250 pixel thumbnails that don’t get bigger? Why is the new version more of these little pictures, instead of more and bigger? The physical paper has a cost related that relates to the size of each photo, but since that’s not true online, why are the online pictures smaller? Why are pictures black and white online just because they’re black and white in print? Why are many pictures missing from the online editions?

The Herald is paying lots of photographers good money to be out there making pictures; why not post them online? Why not post almost all of them online, and then narrow them for the print edition? Why not show them at good resolutions . . . say, 1000 pixels across (you could easily allow low-bandwidth users to switch to lower resolutions)?

Update: This is out of context, but it’s also worth pointing out that the Herald has just caught on to what Steve realized back in July.

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  1. Miami Harold    Mon Sep 5, 02:25 PM #  

    Every which way you look at the Miami Hurled
    it comes up missing.
    Management’s handling of DeFede is the latest.
    It’s surrounded by an enviable wealth of potential material—
    I’m talking about the City of Miami—
    and only manages to produce
    a dry, dead, corporate blancmange about it.
    Call it “The Daily Stillborn”.
    The one area in which it has achieved remarkable success
    is its shameless self-aggrandization:
    management has perfected the ideological sleight-of-hand
    of simultaneously fucking up
    while proclaiming “We’re Not Fucking Up.”
    (George Bush’s wolfpack executes this maneuver almost hourly,
    as in “Good job, Brownie! FEMA’s proud of you!” )
    Magritte had it right.
    It’s the story of the entire print news industry:
    pressed for profits,
    less profitable activities are starved
    into reduction or elimination.
    Dump the foreign news desks and use Reuters.
    Close the stateside urban news bureaus and use AP.
    Fire reporters and run days-old bylines from REAL papers
    like the NY Times and Washington Post.
    Eliminate book reviews: nobody reads any more
    (says the newspaper!)
    Reduce art reviews to semi-annual sightings.
    The inevitable next step is to stop printing entirely,
    which at this rate will impact only
    those who line their litter boxes.