Digital Solutions for Arts Journalism

Adrienne Caruso

In this economic climate, budget cuts and shifting priorities have led to a difficult environment for arts and cultural initiatives. As a result, it’s more important than ever to bring attention to arts programming across the country.

Earlier this month, the Knight Foundation and National Endowment of the Arts announced a challenge among eight cities to promote local arts journalism, an area that is being cut from newsrooms across the country, especially in smaller media markets like Akron, Detroit, and St. Paul (three of the eight cities eligible for the challenge). 

According to the organizers, the challenge is looking for applicants to “rethink how traditional media systems function, harnessing the latest tools and technology to make the transition to the new information environment.”

In our work with nonprofits and foundations focused on promoting arts and cultural initiatives, I’ve seen how difficult it can be to tell these stories locally in the media. To reach key audiences, we often turn to digital avenues to help tell these stories – whether it’s hosting an online Q&A for journalists, releasing an infographic that synthesizes information in a visual way, or creating compelling video content to bring attention to an event or issue.

For example, we’ve helped the National Women’s History Museum in their quest for a physical space, but in the meantime, the museum hosts their exhibits online – a digital solution that shares their content with the public.

I’m encouraged by this challenge, which is sure to spark creative solutions to arts budget cuts and will encourage new ways of thinking about arts journalism in cities like Detroit, which is using the arts as a means of revitalizing one of the cities hardest-hit by the recession.

There are stories to be told, not only to share interesting content, but to bring attention to the broader need for including the arts in communities, schools and the media. It’s my hope that through the outcomes of this challenge (entries are open until Aug. 18), we’ll start to see more dynamic digital solutions that enable these amazing stories to be shared with the communities they serve.


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