Jump to content

Do professional critics write for their perceived audiences?


Recommended Posts

Compare and contrast these 2 reviews written by what seems to be the same person for different publications:

 

http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/37720/cinderella

 

 

"The fact that Bintley can work through some electrifying choreography has never been in doubt, it is just a fact that, try as I could, my heart was never involved for a moment in this ultimately depressing evening."

 

 

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/theatre-in-birmingham/2012/12/02/review-cinderella-by-birmingham-royal-ballet-at-birmingham-hippodrome-65233-32349392/

 

 

"David Bintley’s version of the classic fairy tale has its darker moments, but for much of the evening, has plenty of the old Birmingham Royal Ballet razzle dazzle."

 

Or is it the editors that have given these reviews such different flavours?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I once heard a distinguished theatre critic of a leading upmarket national newspaper say (in a private conversation) that a newspaper critic had to be primarily a journalist and readable, which I took as writing specifically for the entertainment of his publication's target readership rather than experts or the most devoted enthusiasts.

I would expect at a local level the view to be that of an informed observer rather than an expert in the field, but in my experience local newspapers normally strike an encouraging note for any form of local enterprise, if only for the sake of their circulation figures and advertising revenue.

I'm looking forward to a reply from Anjuli_Bai on this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several different goals come into play when writing any critique - and this is increased when writing a critique of the same event for more than one publication.

 

I sometimes write for a publication whose readership probably has an above average interest in the performing arts - but is not particularly knowledgeable about ballet. (has been to a performance and thinks it might have been Swan Lake - or knows it was Swan Lake but can't recall what company danced it) This readership basically wants to know if it is worth the purchase of a ticket.

 

I have written quite a number of critiques for the original Ballet.co forum and (as yet) a few for this new Ballet.co Forum. This readership is knowledgeable, goes often to the ballet (and other dance) and is interested in more than just who, what, why, when and how - and/or my opinion. This readership demands (and rightly so) that I justify my opinions and conclusions.

 

I have also written a number of articles for the journal of the Dance Critics Association which is comprised of professional dance writers - most of whom are steeped in all things dance. Do I change my style for this group? No. Do I have to justify my opinions and conclusions? Yes. Do I write "up" for them? No. But, I do have the luxury of assuming a particular base of knowledge and/or a deeper understanding of the genre (I don't have to give the dates or examples of the Romantic Era.) However, there is a - shall we say - harsher code of "prove yourself." (Being from San Diego does not merit the automatic acceptance that being from NYC does - one has to prove dance lives in San Diego!)

 

So - yes I do take into consideration the readership for whom I am writing. But that doesn't mean I write "down" or "up." If I use a technical term to a less than technically inclined audience - I still use it - but a brief description is incorporated - hopefully not too obviously.

 

A critique which is written for more than one publication can't simply be duplicated for a second publication even if the readership is as dance involved. Why would a second publication pay me for a duplication? I don't change my opinion for the second publcation, but perhaps use a different direction and arrive at the same destination.

 

The thing I have noticed which I really deplore is the pseudo sanctimonious style employed by a writer when writing for colleagues. Words that are used for affect rather than effect. Convoluted phrasing with which the writer obviously fell in love and hopes will enhance the writer's image and "right to belong." The writer who is almost afraid to state something simply. This is endemic in self congratulatory academia.

 

About editors - . In all honesty - and humility - or just plain luck - I have been blessed with editors for whom I write both hard copy and online - who almost never change a word of my submissions.

 

I do insist that if any changes do need to be made - that I have final say. One learns to be quite insistent upon this as it is my name which appears as the author and that makes me mighty particular - for better or worse.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

he who pays the piper calls the tune.....and those critics that claim to be professional writers yet write unpaid on websites are they really public spirited or do they have some other motivation? Do many people decide to spend their money on tickets on the decisions or comments of critics?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

he who pays the piper calls the tune.....and those critics that claim to be professional writers yet write unpaid on websites are they really public spirited or do they have some other motivation? Do many people decide to spend their money on tickets on the decisions or comments of critics?

 

When I am paid the understanding is that the "tune" is still my call.

 

When I am given press tickets by a venue or a company - they do not call the "tune" - I do. I do not write to please them.

 

Everyone has a motivation even it is simply to communicate an experience.

 

Unpaid or paid makes no difference, in my opinion, as to the quality of what you get. We have all seen some truly horrificly inaccurate, technically deficient, poorly written material from some people who are paid and write for well known publications. On the other hand, we have all had the pleasure to read reviews on the web (Ballet.co.uk, for instance) which were informative, informed, and well written.

 

I have written for both hard copy (magazines, newspapers, etc.) as well as for the web. In both cases paid as well as unpaid. In all cases it has made no difference in my desire to convey an honest opinion as best I am able. It is not the money received - or not - which drives me to do my best, but the fact that my name is on the work.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly people write for their audience and if they don't they loose their position or the publication closes - those that write for nothing have a value of nil placed on their work bytheir readers or else have few readers. In the UK companies / venues give press tickets because of the publicity value the space of a review gives as no reviewer is really influential - good review doesn't really sell tickets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This morning's Radio 4 programme, The Cultural Exchange, at 9am, and with a shortened repeat this evening at 9.30, and probably on iplayer, had a very interesting discussion on professional critics (large section of middle of programme). Included comment " a professional critic should have knowledge and trustworthiness",

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's your evidence for this apparently authoritative statement? If something doesn't have a price tag it's worthless, is that it? Piffle, sir, piffle!

ha ha of course things that have no price have a value but when it comes down to it if no one is prepared to pay to read an opinion ( on any subject) then it doesn't have much of a value to anyone - while sales of print media are falling people are still prepared to pay to read the writers but few people seem prepared to pay to read or join websites.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

ha ha of course things that have no price have a value but when it comes down to it if no one is prepared to pay to read an opinion ( on any subject) then it doesn't have much of a value to anyone - while sales of print media are falling people are still prepared to pay to read the writers but few people seem prepared to pay to read or join websites.

 

Not altogether true, when Ballet.co sent me an email for their fundraising drive I was happy to contribute because I enjoy reading the the news and comments that the site provides.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So -

 

If I am paid to write a review - it then has value because it was paid for (regardless of how well or not, it is written) - and I am not doing it for vanity.

 

However, if i am not paid - the same review now has no value (regardless of how it is written) and I am doing it for vanity.

 

How about this.....whether paid or not -- I enjoy sharing the experience of the performance?

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not altogether true, when Ballet.co sent me an email for their fundraising drive I was happy to contribute because I enjoy reading the the news and comments that the site provides.

 

And not only you MAB.

 

http://www.balletcof...what-is-it-for/

 

"Our first funding drive in August and September 2012 generated enough to keep things going for at least a couple of years – many thanks to all who contributed."

 

I am not a paid reviewer and I do not get press tickets but I would echo Anjli's sentiment above that I enjoy sharing the experience of the performance. Unlike paid reviewers I do not have to write about something that I have seen but not liked/thought bad etc. I choose to ramble only about performances I have enjoyed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...