Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Liz Spayd for WaPo.com

Liz Spayd, an assistant managing editor in charge of national news for The Washington Post, has been named editor of washingtonpost.com.

Spayd's upcoming editorialship has been called in an official WaPo statement as "another sign that our Web site is a journalistic force that will play a large part in shaping The Post's future."

Spayd joined the WaPo in 1988.

A little history:

When the washingtonpost.com first got started, one of the first things that it did was to augment the galleries and visual arts coverage by adding a group of freelance writers who would write reviews and profiles to augment the print version's scant coverage of the DC area's galleries and artists.

This is how Jessica Dawson first connected with the Washington Post bosses. Previous to that, she used to write for the Washington City Paper as a freelancer working for then WCP Arts Editor Glenn Dixon Brad McKee.

At the washingtonpost.com, under editor John Poole (who was then the site's online Arts Editor), the arts coverage by the WaPo online flourished and there were dozens and dozens of gallery reviews, which have unfortunately mostly disappeared from the WaPo's online presence, as well as many gallery profiles, most of which have also vanished, although a few still remain.

At once point, even the print version critics, such as Jessica Dawson's predecessor for the Galleries column (Ferdinand Protzman) and Michael O'Sullivan, authored online articles and reviews for washingtonpost.com which were only available online.

And for a short period of time, there was happiness in the air, as the WaPo finally appeared to be delivering gallery coverage, if just through its expanded online presence.

And then John Poole got promoted and went on to bigger and better things.

And then it took a looooong time to find a replacement online Arts editor. And by the time she was hired, she had a tight budget and no allowance for online art critics, and a bare bones coverage of the art scene.

And then the WaPo's Chief Art Critic (Paul Richard) retired, and Ferd Protzman got pissed that he didn't get promoted to that job and quit, and Jessica got hired as a freelancer to replace Protzman and back then the Galleries column was a weekly column.

And then Gopnik got hired from some Canadian newspaper where he used to write for after the Post's first choice (a New York Times critic) turned the job offer down and recommended Blake, who apparently was outside the Post's radar at that time.

And the "augmented" online visual arts coverage ended, other than the random Gopnik video here and there.

Liz Spayd, if you read this: can you bring back some other critical voices to the DC art scene and renew the online art reviews?