Ask the Ombudsman
Deborah Howell, the Washington Post's Ombudsman will be answering questions about the WaPo tomorrow, Wednesday, May 9, 2007 starting at 11:00 AM. You can ask her questions here, either live or ahead of time.
This is a good opportunity for anyone so inclined to contact Ms. Howell and express the dismay that we all feel about the Washington Post's Style section spectacular apathy towards the DC area visual arts scene outside of our great DC area museums. Please be courteous.
Fact: When Eugene Robinson took over as editor of Style, he inherited a section that had a weekly column dedicated to art galleries (the "Galleries" column) and a second weekly column (the Arts Beat column) which was focused mostly on the visual arts and on arts news. Under Mr. Robinson, the Arts Beat column was reduced to twice a month, and refocused on all the arts (most of which already get decent coverage in Style).
Fact: Eugene Robinson also began the process to let Blake Gopnik get away with only reviewing (with one or two very rare exceptions) museums, thus having the nation's only art critic too good to review his city's artists and art galleries.
Fact: On July 6, 2006, Steve Reiss (the Style section's Asst. Editor) stated online: "As for Blake Gopnik, he is a prolific writer and I find it hard to argue that we should be giving up reviews of major museum shows so he can write more about galleries that have a much smaller audience."
Fact: When Robinson left, under Deborah Heard, the coverage got even worse, with "Galleries" being reduced to twice a month. That adds up to around 25 columns a year to review the thousand or so gallery shows that the DC area gallery art scene has to offer.
Fact: On March 15, 2005, Deborah Heard was online and someone asked her:
Washington, D.C.: When are gallery reviews going to start running every week again? Are you currently seeking a new freelance galleries critic?Memo to Ms. Heard: It has been two years. When are you going to reassess the Style section's gallery coverage so that it is at least on a par with the Style section's coverage of theatre, music, dance, opera, etc.?
Deborah E. Heard: Reassessing our coverage of art galleries is on my list of things to do. I've already heard from quite a few folks about this so I know it's a pressing issue for some. But give me some time; I've only been in the job for a few months.