Out of Greensboro, North Carolina, comes some eyebrow-raising arts-journalism news: ArtsGreenboro, a nonprofit grant-giving arts organization, will underwrite a year’s worth of arts coverage in the Greensboro News & Record, the third-largest newspaper in North Carolina, Jim Romenesko reported on his blog. ArtsGreensboro will give the paper $15,000 for 70 “stories about local arts topics” over the course of the next year, or about $214 per piece. According to Jeff Gauger, executive editor and publisher of the News & Record, “That’s 70 more stories than we would have published without this agreement.”
In his column announcing the news, Gauger offers wording from the formal agreement to prove that the paper will retain editorial independence, but in his own column about the news, ArtsGreensboro CEO and President Thomas Philion lays out quite clearly what the organization is after: ticket sales. Both Gauger and Philion also point out that they’re essentially following a public broadcasting model — but the foundations and corporations that underwrite public broadcasting don’t pay for programs to cover a specific beat (“local arts topics” may sound broad, but it’s actually quite specific). In some ways, the arrangement actually seems to hew more towards an online model exemplified by sites like The Creators Project — which covers the intersection of art and technology and is funded by a technology company, Intel — and PandoDaily, which covers Silicon Valley while being funded by Silicon Valley insiders. Unfortunately, neither is known for their rigor.
All of which seems to make for a fairly precarious partnership. That said, I’m not sure who has better ideas for funding arts journalism at the moment.