Media not always to blame

In my day job, I am the Editor of The Western Weekender newspaper, based in Penrith. Part of the Media View group, the Weekender is the most widely circulated paper in the region and provides the leading news coverage to the growing population of the outer western suburbs.

In my day job, I am the Editor of The Western Weekender newspaper, based in Penrith. Part of the Media View group, the Weekender is the most widely circulated paper in the region and provides the leading news coverage to the growing population of the outer western suburbs.

Job #2 is, of course, AussieTheatre.com and the third job is as a fill-in news presenter on Radio 2UE in Sydney.

I want to take you to the first job. As an Editor, I think I can give some insight into the whole debate at the moment surrounding the dwindling coverage of the arts amongst our metropolitan media.

The off-shots to this job are many, and one of them is monitoring other media. Hence, during the day, our team of journalists are across what is happening on Radio 2GB, Radio 2UE, the ABC and a number of other metro radio stations here in Sydney.

Whilst the format of those stations may not be everyone’s cup of tea, one thing that is fair enough to say is that all strive to have interesting content. Maybe something a little unique, maybe something with a twist.

The same goes for The Western Weekender. When I sit in my office and listen to the journalists suggest stories, I’m looking for two things – something that is largely newsworthy, or something that is uniquely interesting. Same story with the countless press releases and emails that make their way across my desk – the generic stuff generally lands in the garbage bin.

So when it comes to newspaper editors looking over their publication and making decisions based on arts pages, I can kind of understand where they’re coming from in reducing space.

I appreciate and understand that the arts has a high moral attitude. I appreciate that the arts should be revered, and covered by the media by experts in a respectable way. 

But that doesn’t make it interesting.

I know I’ve said it before but we just don’t utilise our public image enough. We refuse to make our talented performers ‘stars’, and instead make the show the star. The result is plenty of excitement when a show opens, which dies reasonably quickly because there’s just nothing new.

I’ve been around theatre long enough to suggest we’ve got a tonne of scandals, a tonne of interesting stories, that we simply don’t promote or utilise.

Publicists will probably say theatre is beyond that, and whilst that may be true, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Theatre needs to lower its standards, accept the odd bit of controversy, and it will be much better for it. Public interest will most certainly boost, and the media interest will follow.

The biggest issue is how we get there.

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