Writers' union condemns mainstream media cutbacks to arts and books

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      Earlier today, I wrote a post about the Globe and Mail's decision to bring an end to Martin Levin's nearly 17-year tenure as books editor.

      The assistant books editor, Jack Kirchhoff, also lost his title.

      Now, The Writers' Union of Canada is speaking out.

      It's "wondering if there is a crisis of critical engagement in Canada's mainstream media", given recent cutbacks to arts coverage.

      (The Georgia Straight has maintained its books coverage under editor Brian Lynch. The arts section is bigger than it's ever been under editor Janet Smith.)

      “The specialty publications simply cannot duplicate the reach of a general interest national daily,” TWUC chair Merilyn Simonds said in a news release issued today. “Without intensive book coverage in our large daily newspapers, publishers and festivals will lose access to a targeted, engaged, book-loving audience. Not only will it be harder for books to find readers, but the ongoing literary conversation sparked by quality reviews will be silenced—or at the least, reduced to a whisper.”

      I've never understood why media outlets choose to eliminate books coverage, given that this section attracts people who read.

      Sometimes, it seems that news executives are so eager to employ techniques to lure nonreaders—such as through contests or gimmicks—rather than focusing on those who love the printed word.

      Books offer an incredible pathway to greater understanding about the world around us. And unlike the commercial media, they're not contaminated by advertising—at least not yet.

      To deprive newspaper readers of books coverage is sacrilegious. Any self-respecting editors who do this ought to be ashamed of themselves.

      Kudos to The Writers' Union of Canada for raising its voice.


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      Jan 30, 2013 at 8:03am

      Hurrah for the Straight's arts coverage. Keep it up! Now if Colin Thomas wasn't always such a curmudgeon.