On Web Publishing and Fundraisers

by Art Fag City on December 26, 2008 · 26 comments Events

 xiaoze-xie.jpg
Xiaoze Xie, May 2000, Shanghai #3, 2001, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 60 inches

Well known blogger and art world writer Lisa anonymously expressed a very common misunderstanding about web publishing on this blog recently:

I think highly of your site and wish you all the best with your fundraiser, but there's still an underlying problem:

Newspapers have cut back on their coverage precisely because bloggers (many of them former newspaper writers or top freelancers) have been giving away the same kind of coverage for free. Now readers expect this content to be free. The idea that writers ought to be paid for their expertise seems to have vanished.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but blogs are not responsible for the financial troubles of newspapers, and the logic used to come to that conclusion makes no sense.   Wildly successful free publications such as the Village Voice existed long before the Internet came along and didn’t topple the industry.  What’s more, the Voice wasn’t an anomaly; hundreds of thousands of freely distributed newspapers and magazines circulate the country and continue to do so.  The real challenge the Internet poses to traditional forms of publishing comes from the loss of revenue generated by classifieds — Real estate, job listings, furniture sales, personals — which at one point provided a huge source of income for publications.  Those funds are now collected by sites like craigslist, ebay, and NYFA. (See Clay Shirky for more on this subject.)

But for Lisa, I doubt too many would be Art Fag City Fundraiser contributors have been swayed by the blog’s larger effect on writers wages, but I hope this post will clear up a few misunderstandings.  Independent critics need to be paid a living wage, and like everyone else in the industry I’m just trying to figure out how to make that happen.

Readers wishing to contribute to the Art Fag City Fundraiser can do so either through check or paypal.  Momenta Art is processing all payment so readers can write off their donations, and to ensure all proceeds are not used for profit.

  • http://www.fatbombers.com ale

    the error, I think, is believing that newspapers sell information to the readers.
    it’s the other way around: newspaper sell readers to the advertising industry. they can give the paper for free, as long as they have enough advertising.

    if NYT isn’t able to cash in from the millions of visitors their website have, that’s their problem, not ours.

  • http://www.fatbombers.com ale

    the error, I think, is believing that newspapers sell information to the readers.
    it’s the other way around: newspaper sell readers to the advertising industry. they can give the paper for free, as long as they have enough advertising.

    if NYT isn’t able to cash in from the millions of visitors their website have, that’s their problem, not ours.

  • http://www.fatbombers.com ale

    the error, I think, is believing that newspapers sell information to the readers.
    it’s the other way around: newspaper sell readers to the advertising industry. they can give the paper for free, as long as they have enough advertising.

    if NYT isn’t able to cash in from the millions of visitors their website have, that’s their problem, not ours.

  • http://www.tonyfitzpatrick.com tony fitzpatrick

    Newspapers are losing because bloggers are doing their jobs better than they do ; bloggers have also democratized the information of the art world — for better and worse. Bloggers are faster , more reflexive and able to further the discourse better than the established media outlets– especially print media — which was WAY late to the party as far as the internet goes. You’d think they’d have pioneered this technology– they didn’t– and now they lag behind.

  • http://www.tonyfitzpatrick.com tony fitzpatrick

    Newspapers are losing because bloggers are doing their jobs better than they do ; bloggers have also democratized the information of the art world — for better and worse. Bloggers are faster , more reflexive and able to further the discourse better than the established media outlets– especially print media — which was WAY late to the party as far as the internet goes. You’d think they’d have pioneered this technology– they didn’t– and now they lag behind.

  • http://www.tonyfitzpatrick.com tony fitzpatrick

    Newspapers are losing because bloggers are doing their jobs better than they do ; bloggers have also democratized the information of the art world — for better and worse. Bloggers are faster , more reflexive and able to further the discourse better than the established media outlets– especially print media — which was WAY late to the party as far as the internet goes. You’d think they’d have pioneered this technology– they didn’t– and now they lag behind.

  • http://www.postmastersart.net Magda Sawon

    It’s important Paddy took on this comment to clarify that the print media problem is not bloggers-made. I am quite indebted to her (and several others I follow rather religiously) for providing info, judgements and links often way more valuable and insightful than much of MSM idiot art writing. I did contribute to the fundraiser and think of it as my subscription.

  • http://www.postmastersart.net Magda Sawon

    It’s important Paddy took on this comment to clarify that the print media problem is not bloggers-made. I am quite indebted to her (and several others I follow rather religiously) for providing info, judgements and links often way more valuable and insightful than much of MSM idiot art writing. I did contribute to the fundraiser and think of it as my subscription.

  • http://www.postmastersart.net Magda Sawon

    It’s important Paddy took on this comment to clarify that the print media problem is not bloggers-made. I am quite indebted to her (and several others I follow rather religiously) for providing info, judgements and links often way more valuable and insightful than much of MSM idiot art writing. I did contribute to the fundraiser and think of it as my subscription.

  • Lisa

    I don’t think it’s a “misunderstanding.” Do you buy newspapers anymore for their arts coverage? I used to subscribe to the now-defunct New York Sun and Wall Street Journal specifically for their arts coverage, but now I’m more likely to read, say, Modern Art Notes. And if I were going to Philadelphia, I’d check out Roberta and Libby rather than buying a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Eight years ago, my annual budget for arts publications was a few hundred dollars a year. (There was even a time, back in high school, when I’d pay a buck a week for the Village Voice.) Now I spend zero. I get everything free on line.

    Am I the only one? Really?

  • Lisa

    I don’t think it’s a “misunderstanding.” Do you buy newspapers anymore for their arts coverage? I used to subscribe to the now-defunct New York Sun and Wall Street Journal specifically for their arts coverage, but now I’m more likely to read, say, Modern Art Notes. And if I were going to Philadelphia, I’d check out Roberta and Libby rather than buying a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Eight years ago, my annual budget for arts publications was a few hundred dollars a year. (There was even a time, back in high school, when I’d pay a buck a week for the Village Voice.) Now I spend zero. I get everything free on line.

    Am I the only one? Really?

  • Lisa

    I don’t think it’s a “misunderstanding.” Do you buy newspapers anymore for their arts coverage? I used to subscribe to the now-defunct New York Sun and Wall Street Journal specifically for their arts coverage, but now I’m more likely to read, say, Modern Art Notes. And if I were going to Philadelphia, I’d check out Roberta and Libby rather than buying a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Eight years ago, my annual budget for arts publications was a few hundred dollars a year. (There was even a time, back in high school, when I’d pay a buck a week for the Village Voice.) Now I spend zero. I get everything free on line.

    Am I the only one? Really?

  • Jill

    While I really should be doing something else, I’d like to say that newspapers are more generational than some would expect: most teenagers and young adults have grown accustomed to accessing free information, such as news, via the web and NOT hard-copy pring. That’s neither the newspapers’ fault nor the bloggers’ fault. It’s just the way that technology has vastly changed the horizon of information acquisition.

    I heartily back-up AFC in its cause and would love to donate but am a bit short on cash at the moment.

    As for the newspapers: they’re going to have to figure something out.

  • Jill

    While I really should be doing something else, I’d like to say that newspapers are more generational than some would expect: most teenagers and young adults have grown accustomed to accessing free information, such as news, via the web and NOT hard-copy pring. That’s neither the newspapers’ fault nor the bloggers’ fault. It’s just the way that technology has vastly changed the horizon of information acquisition.

    I heartily back-up AFC in its cause and would love to donate but am a bit short on cash at the moment.

    As for the newspapers: they’re going to have to figure something out.

  • Jill

    While I really should be doing something else, I’d like to say that newspapers are more generational than some would expect: most teenagers and young adults have grown accustomed to accessing free information, such as news, via the web and NOT hard-copy pring. That’s neither the newspapers’ fault nor the bloggers’ fault. It’s just the way that technology has vastly changed the horizon of information acquisition.

    I heartily back-up AFC in its cause and would love to donate but am a bit short on cash at the moment.

    As for the newspapers: they’re going to have to figure something out.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com artfagcity

    @Lisa: Independent publishing faces the same challenges it always has; typically the resources of an individual are scarce and high volume circulation/traffic is hard to drum up in specialized fields. Neither the Wall Street Journal nor The New York Post ever made much money off the small percentage of people buying the paper for its arts coverage. Good arts writing can give a paper prestige, but it doesn’t necessarily represent a profitable publication model.

    It’s fair to say the Internet poses a challenge to the publication industry, but to lay the blame on blogs alone is to do so in error. If you’re reading Ricard Lacayo at lookingaround.blogs.time.com/, the editors at frieze.com/magazine/, Artforum, and ArtReview.com, than you’re reading more than just blogs giving their content away for free.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com artfagcity

    @Lisa: Independent publishing faces the same challenges it always has; typically the resources of an individual are scarce and high volume circulation/traffic is hard to drum up in specialized fields. Neither the Wall Street Journal nor The New York Post ever made much money off the small percentage of people buying the paper for its arts coverage. Good arts writing can give a paper prestige, but it doesn’t necessarily represent a profitable publication model.

    It’s fair to say the Internet poses a challenge to the publication industry, but to lay the blame on blogs alone is to do so in error. If you’re reading Ricard Lacayo at lookingaround.blogs.time.com/, the editors at frieze.com/magazine/, Artforum, and ArtReview.com, than you’re reading more than just blogs giving their content away for free.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com artfagcity

    @Lisa: Independent publishing faces the same challenges it always has; typically the resources of an individual are scarce and high volume circulation/traffic is hard to drum up in specialized fields. Neither the Wall Street Journal nor The New York Post ever made much money off the small percentage of people buying the paper for its arts coverage. Good arts writing can give a paper prestige, but it doesn’t necessarily represent a profitable publication model.

    It’s fair to say the Internet poses a challenge to the publication industry, but to lay the blame on blogs alone is to do so in error. If you’re reading Ricard Lacayo at lookingaround.blogs.time.com/, the editors at frieze.com/magazine/, Artforum, and ArtReview.com, than you’re reading more than just blogs giving their content away for free.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    I don’t understand your beef, Lisa. You’re saying blogs killed newspapers as if that’s something bad, but using your own free-reading as people’s exhibit no. 1.

    And blaming Johnson for what happened to print writers when she’s trying to have a fundraiser to avoid their fate.

    It’s just weird.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    I don’t understand your beef, Lisa. You’re saying blogs killed newspapers as if that’s something bad, but using your own free-reading as people’s exhibit no. 1.

    And blaming Johnson for what happened to print writers when she’s trying to have a fundraiser to avoid their fate.

    It’s just weird.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Off topic, I like Kari Altmann’s masthead 008–it’s sexy and dumb (in a good way) but also kind of lyrical. Good use of the masthead dimensions. There’s something about platinum blond android elves in swimming pools that drives men crazy.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Off topic, I like Kari Altmann’s masthead 008–it’s sexy and dumb (in a good way) but also kind of lyrical. Good use of the masthead dimensions. There’s something about platinum blond android elves in swimming pools that drives men crazy.

  • http://tommoody.us tom moody

    Off topic, I like Kari Altmann’s masthead 008–it’s sexy and dumb (in a good way) but also kind of lyrical. Good use of the masthead dimensions. There’s something about platinum blond android elves in swimming pools that drives men crazy.

  • http://www.lomodeedee.com/ lomodeedee

    how annoying… ‘official’ media (printed mag, portals…) always think that it’s enough just to be the ‘official’ media…

    i work as editor on cultural portal, but i switched to blogosphere, because i realized that i don’t find challenging to read the same stuff written by the same ‘saint’ critics and journalists all the time, who btw became lazy enough to copy paste stuff they saw in other media (very often from blogs)…

    blogosphere is just another medium… participative medium… and you journalist have to find your way to become more interesting than…

    keep the good work Paddy…

    deborah

  • http://www.lomodeedee.com/ lomodeedee

    how annoying… ‘official’ media (printed mag, portals…) always think that it’s enough just to be the ‘official’ media…

    i work as editor on cultural portal, but i switched to blogosphere, because i realized that i don’t find challenging to read the same stuff written by the same ‘saint’ critics and journalists all the time, who btw became lazy enough to copy paste stuff they saw in other media (very often from blogs)…

    blogosphere is just another medium… participative medium… and you journalist have to find your way to become more interesting than…

    keep the good work Paddy…

    deborah

  • http://www.lomodeedee.com/ lomodeedee

    how annoying… ‘official’ media (printed mag, portals…) always think that it’s enough just to be the ‘official’ media…

    i work as editor on cultural portal, but i switched to blogosphere, because i realized that i don’t find challenging to read the same stuff written by the same ‘saint’ critics and journalists all the time, who btw became lazy enough to copy paste stuff they saw in other media (very often from blogs)…

    blogosphere is just another medium… participative medium… and you journalist have to find your way to become more interesting than…

    keep the good work Paddy…

    deborah

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