One of my favorite podcasts, WNYC’s On the Media, probes the creation and spread of media narratives and examines the modern media business, government transparency, free speech, literary accolades, and more. I especially want everyone who reads BSR to tune into the final segment of On the Media's January 19 episode, “Trouble at The Baltimore Sun, and the End of an Era for Pitchfork”.
It covers layoffs and shrinking resources in arts criticism across the country, in a conversation with NPR music critic Ann Powers. I love what she has to say about critics: we’re “embattled figures” in society, “both revered and utterly disrespected.” We're seen as a parasite on the work of others, but also somehow still “make people tremble when [we] walk in the door.”
We can’t quantify art or put it in hierarchies, Powers says, but on the other hand, there is such a thing as aesthetic judgement. Despite the mass firing of cultural critics, Powers believes we’ll endure, because a review “creates space for a reader to have an encounter with the work that is guided by the encounter the critic had,” which leads to wider understanding: “I still think people want that time and space to think and feel with another person who also loves the art they love.”
What a great way to describe what we do at BSR. As you can see in this week’s crop of reviews, some critics will have positive things to say about the work, and some won’t. But they’re all still engaged in the same job that ultimately supports the arts: creating spaces for us to process thoughts and feelings about the work and sharpen our appetite for whatever’s next.
This show, originally slated to close on January 21, was extended through January 28. Our team highly recommends it!
Alaina Johns, Editor-In-Chief