Hank Klibanoff, a managing editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has accused bloggers such as Henry Fogel and myself of spreading “falsehoods and misperceptions” about the fate of classical-music criticism at the AJC, a topic I addressed here and here. According to Geoff Edgers of the Boston Globe, Klibanoff declares that Pierre Ruhe's status as classical critic was "never really in jeopardy" and wants to know why I and others didn't call to confirm the story. I, for one, was commenting on a reported article by Steve Dollar that appeared in Musical America on May 24, and on this blog I don't usually re-report stories that come from reputable sources. Dollar wrote that “a radical reorganization of staff resources has led to the elimination of most positions for arts critics and editors.” Dollar interviewed Bert Roughton Jr., another AJC editor, who was paraphrased as saying that “there will still be reviews of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra” but that “he just can't say under whose byline they will appear, or if they will appear as frequently as they do now.” On May 21, the AJC saw fit to publish a letter from Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony, lamenting that "designated reviewers for classical music, visual arts and literature" were to be eliminated. If that was a falsehood, I don't understand why the AJC allowed it into print. Six days later, Julia Wallace, the editor of the paper, stated that Spano's claim "wasn't correct," although her denial was at times circuitously worded ("Will there be a reduction in the number of reviews? That's not the goal"). Those were the sources for my posts. I have checked with Musical America, and they are standing by their story. I have also sent a list of questions to Mr. Klibanoff and will add more information as it comes in. I appreciate his passion for the arts, and I apologize if my initial post, with its rude headline, offended him.
I've commented before that we in classical music tend to jump to the
worst-case scenario. In 2005, some of us feared that the Boston Globe
would fail to replace Richard Dyer when he left the paper. Then they
hired Jeremy Eichler. Similar fears are now being voiced about New York
magazine. We will see what happens in that case. Still, I'm glad Spano
spoke up as he did. What he said needed to be said: the tendency to
marginalize criticism is widespread in American newspapers.