Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All Dressed Up and...

All Dressed Up and…
By Tom Wachunas

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve been grousing for years about The Repository’s refusal to give a voice to local arts critics. So why stop now? The paper’s newly unveiled make-over seems to have only further stoked the fire of my discontent with the publication. We now have before us a garish exercise in visual multi-tasking that is a grand, case-in-point illustration of really awful graphic design. I’m reminded of the ancient story of the emperor’s new clothes. Oops. Guess I’ve gone and done it now – burned some more bridges. But I digress.

There are some truly fine writers on the Repository staff. But their “reporting” on the arts often comes off as re-worked press releases with accompanying cursory- but- pleasant interviews with the artists. In the end, such stories can too easily settle into the realm of gutless fluff, and be downright unhelpful in grasping the art itself.

Does this view brand me as an elitist intellectual snob? I admit to being as much, but only if being a snob means that I long for our local paper to embrace the arts with the same passion and depth it exhibits (or claims to) in covering political, social, and athletic issues. I long for a local paper that enlightens and appeals to the whole person, and we are less than whole if we minimize the rightful, needed place of the arts in our lives. The fact that The Repository doesn’t meet that need is beyond unfortunate. It’s insulting.

Alas, it’s true that the very idea of newspapers is becoming increasingly obsolete, like the proverbial ships that have not only sailed, but are sinking quickly. In the long run, I seriously doubt that changing the look, or re-assessing their target readership, will significantly slow their demise. And so it is that while I will forever savor the look, the feel, even the smell of real paper while I read and write, I surrender more and more to the Web – its availability, its possibilities, and its opportunities – and always with thanks to God for the ability to do so.

Meanwhile, I’ve had another look at Emperor Repository’s new duds today, and I still see nothing…….er, uhm, new.

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