Goodbye Book World
In another sign that literary criticism is losing its profile in newspapers, The Washington Post has decided to shutter the print version of Book World, its Sunday stand-alone book review section, and shift reviews to space inside two other sections of the paper.Where will they shift the book reviews and articles and discussions to?
“I think it’s going to be a great disappointment to a lot of readers,” said Marie Arana, who edited Book World for a decade before taking a buy-out from The Washington Post in December. “I just hope that there’s enough coverage and emphasis and attention given on the pages where Book World will now appear in print in Outlook and Style and Arts to satisfy those readers.”Good luck with that Ms. Arana; it has been clear to the most casual observer that those sections of the WaPo are not really interested too much on "satisfying" their readers; at least those readers with niche interests such as book, visual arts, etc.
Think more celebrity focus and you've got the Style section. A few years ago the decay of the Style section's coverage of the visual arts in the Post started under then Style's editor Eugene Robinson, and this blog is a historical record of the decay of that section in covering the arts, as well as some outright lies by its editors over the years about some of the issues raised over the years.
In 2004 the Style section used to have one column a week to review DC area art galleries. 52 articles a year to review from a potential field of over 1,500 or so gallery shows. But 52 is better than nothing. The columns were shared by freelancers Jessica Dawson and Glenn Dixon, both ex-Washington City Paper writers. Then Dixon quit over some dispute with the Post and the art review column was reduced to twice a month.
But we were told on Monday, December 27, 2004 that the Post had "decided to hire a second freelance writer to augment Jessica Dawson's 'Galleries' reviews."
We're still waiting for that second additional freelance art critic. Instead, since then the Post has reduced its galleries' coverage even further. And it's not like we don't understand the economical reasons for this. With newspapers all over the nation slowly bleeding away readers each month, the end of the line is near for these major, once dominant moribund giants of the printed media. But what fires me up is when they still try to tell us that nothing will change and that they still "get it" as the Post's annoying radio ads proclaim.
In a phone interview with the NYT, Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Post said that “Our intention is to have nearly as many reviews as we’ve had in the past, though clearly there will be somewhat less room.”
Goodbye Book World.