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The future of arts journalism is up to readers

We’ve said it before and sadly, we’re saying it again. As tax-payer funded arts companies and organisations devote increasing marketing resources to advertising on Google, Facebook and their own websites, arts journalism is in peril.

Daily Review faces the same challenges as Fairfax Media and many other smaller publications trying to survive at a time when independent arts commentary and critique is disappearing.

When we launched in 2013, we did so with one clear goal in mind: to connect audiences with the arts and entertainment industry. It’s something we believe is important, and something we believe we do well, which is why our audience is constantly growing and measures about 150,000 unique visitors a month.

Over the last three and half years, we’ve been proud to have led coverage of the issues affecting Australian arts and culture, from the age of Brandis and the shut down of his Catalyst escapade which we reported first, to Sydney’s lockout laws, to Sydney Theatre Company’s leadership upheaval, and the behind the scenes industrial issues at Opera Australia.

None of these stories would have been published on a tax-payer funded arts organisation website.

We’ve also reviewed a diverse range of performances, books, films, TV shows, and exhibitions from around the country with our respected and often irreverent and provocative contributors.

Our small team of two staff, plus our regular paid contributors, strive to deliver important news, views and reviews while shining a light on a wider range of artists, companies and issues that mightn’t get mainstream attention. Daily Review remains committed to advocating for an intelligent, inclusive, vibrant and culturally rich Australia that is supported by informed and engaged audiences.

But there’s obviously much, much more we would love to cover. Despite the gloomy events of this month we have big plans for the future of Daily Review.

That’s why we launched this reader support campaign last November and we received a very generous and humbling response from our readers to whom we are extremely thankful. Now we’re reaching out to those in our audience who might not have got around to helping us invest further in arts journalism, critique and commentary, or those who’ve watched the events at Fairfax this week and realised how fragile is the future of arts journalism.

support_daily_reviewYou’ll see the Support Daily Review button (the one sitting just to the right) across the site. If you like what you’re reading, that’s a cue to click through and help us out. And if you vehemently disagree, but enjoy how a good debate makes your blood boil, why not send a couple of dollars our way to keep it up? If you don’t support arts journalism, who will?

Please visit the Daily Review support page where you can find out more about our plans, become a supporter, and then have a say in how your contribution is spent.

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Daily Review columnist Luke Buckmaster says:

How many culture websites do you know of that publish writing on new Hollywood movies, and also theatre playing in Australian cities? And concerts? Art exhibitions? Comedy gigs? New TV shows and video games? Politics and social commentary? If you counted with your fingers, I’d be surprised if you used more than one or two.

These are uncertain times for arts coverage in Australia. The rise of the online outrage-o-meter means more writers than ever believe “criticism” equals “venting your spleen.” I am old enough to remember when things were better, and young enough to remain relatively optimistic.

A few months after Daily Review launched, back when it was a part of Crikey, Ray Gill questioned if his story selection was perhaps a little random. I said no, Ray, the word you’re looking for is “eclectic.” You should say “eclectic.”

If Daily Review was unintentionally eclectic back then (sorry Ray) it is intentionally so now: a smorgasbord of quality content for Australian culture vultures. Websites like it, powered by culture aficionados who live and breathe this stuff, are about as rare as four leaf clovers in a nuclear fallout.

In the words of Rod Taylor from that exquisitely kitschy Australian film Welcome to Woop Woop, that’s something worth fighting for. Or simply something worth supporting.

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Daily Review columnist Helen Razer says:

Look. Money. It’s not a pleasant topic, is it? And, it is one that has become so frequently demanded and discussed. Everyone is asking for some for their newest project or not-for-profit or story of heartbreak, and you and I are both sick to the back of our crumbling denture of these requests for our cash.

So. I apologise very sincerely for joining the army of digital charity muggers. I must also declare that I do so in self-interest — after all, Daily Review pays me a wage for my work. In one sense, it feels plain wrong to be asking you, or anyone, to fund me and my interests directly. But in the present, it also happens to be the only recourse.

It comes down to this: if you don’t fund arts writing in Australia of the present, nobody will.

Read Helen Razer’s full piece: are you with us, the wankers committed to culture?

9 responses to “The future of arts journalism is up to readers

  1. Dear Raymond,
    Thank you and yours for this place. I am lifted, infuriated, impressed and amazed by the work you steward.
    This is what it’s supposed to be about.
    I am no Andrew Forrest, which is not so necessarily bad, but would be delighted to make a modest contribution.
    Could I suggest that all readers find an hour to review the “online” stuff they are paying for and do not need – security systems which are already bundled free by Apple; access to music sites we never use; choose something you know you have here – and simply cancel it?
    Then?
    We simply redirect a portion (or all) of our savings to Daily Review or similar independent Australian publishers.
    I have found enough crap I am paying for to help – and that’s just with things I’d forgotten I’d bought into.
    Could I suggest that you investigate a regular payment facility, and perhaps publish some advice on the tax-deductibility of an ongoing support/subscription for people working in the arts sector?
    While I’m in Oracle-mode I’d also go back to the MEAA with a proposal that each association membership included a small contribution to your good works.
    Then (sorry, I know this is drawn out, but we won’t be invading Poland anytime soon) I would suggest you identify willing paid contributors who are members of the MEAA at the tagline of their piece.
    Warm regards,
    Andrew

    1. Thanks Andrew for your encouragement and suggestions. We are currently redesigning our ‘support’ facility to make it easier to contribute and to make recurrent payments. We are now able to do this because a generous reader offered to cover the costs of the web development. And I will look into your other savvy suggestions.
      Thanks again and best wishes,
      Ray Gill

  2. How about rejigging your donations page to include an option for small monthly donations? Many people who have a personal donation program prefer to do it this way, which is regular, automatic and indicates ongoing commitment..

  3. I think it is terrible that The Age and Fairfax Media will reduce its Arts reporters. The City of Melbourne thrives on its ‘Arts and Culture’ and deserves the correct coverage by the media companies. Come on Fairfax there is no need for these latest round of cuts. All Mastheads of Fairfax Media are turning a profit and healthy profits at that!

  4. Eclectic would be fine if you could preface your rants with some audience-orienting facts and context. We are not constantly living in your headspace to know what tower you are launching off today.

  5. Given the defamatory nonsense Razer has published about myself and others over the years, no, I won’t. I would have been happy to otherwise.
    One way to ensure you don’t go down the gurgler might be to get Razer to be more careful and to start fact checking, and to stop believing uncritically the words of her friends and contacts.
    She isn’t a journalist per se, she just shoots her mouth off – and that can be a legal liability.

    1. Hi Jack,
      Your comment would have more meaning to me, and I presume Helen Razer and our readers if you supplied your last name. It’s difficult to investigate accusations of “defamatory nonsense” from a person who chooses to be known only as “Jack”! Best wishes, Ray Gill

  6. Ray, have you approached any of the Super Funds for funding? I’m quite sure that the MEAA would be prepared to put up some funding or the super fund that represents the industry. It’s worth a go.

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