No one in the media landscape is immune to the popularity of social networks and blog-based websites - not even highbrow arts critics. As newspapers cut down on reviews, online venues and social networks fill the void.
Now, reviews are disseminated before the opera is even over
A reporter sits hunched over his typewriter, fedora nearby, furiously hammering out a story before his deadline. The cliché reporter is clearly an obsolete image as mainstream newspapers sideline more and more of their professional arts criticism and reviews.
While cuts spell bad news for reporters, they mean opportunity for Web innovators like Peter Culshaw, who started the website theartsdesk.com to combine professional quality reviews with the speed of new media.
"Our site is quite old-fashioned in the sense that we're doing overnight reviews with a lot of space for questions and answers in a way the national papers used to do," Culshaw explained. "But we are also online, so we're a sort of half-way house between the old world and the new world, and we use Twitter, Facebook and all of these networking sites to get interest in the stories that are on the site."
The Artsdesk has also benefitted from online advertisers. Although the writers who contribute to the site are unpaid, Culshaw is confident that the idiosyncratic mix of arts coverage will survive, even if the mainstream press falls.
"We're betting that there will be interest in high quality reviews. It's by no means clear that the traditional, national media will still be around in 10 years," he said.
New reviewers, new insights
Traditional reviews helped author Colin Grant much less than discussion on the web
In the author's experience, the proliferation of voices when it comes to publicizing and reviewing works also means that new elements come to light.
"Social networks are not restricted in the way some newspapers are in that they have to serve the needs of the perceived readership," he explained.
Grant adding that a more conservative newspaper might not reflect on what he considers important in "I & I: The Natural Mystics," namely the rise of the Rastafari religious movement in Jamaica: "Those are the sorts of subjects you will find picked up by bloggers, by Tweeters and people who love Facebook."
'Out the window' with all-knowing critics
Being based in London helps the Artsdesk connect with readers
You can't miss them in Berlin, and they dot urban hubs elsewhere, too. Ad columns have helped during war and defied digitalization. Their inventor, who was inspired by public toilets, would've turned 200 on February 11.