A recent opinion piece from the editorial staff of the Louisville Courier-Journal endorsed the Louisville Orchestra board position of cutting the orchestra down to the size of a part time ensemble. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the Courier-Journal’s editorial staff has espoused an absolutely wrong position..
To begin with, the editorial actually contradicts itself. At one point, it states,
The community has a stake in all of this, and we have a right to inform the players, and the board (which is taking a hard line, too), that compromise is vital.”
Nevertheless, in the very next paragraph they endorse the board sponsored measure of cutting the orchestra down to size comparable to Grand Rapids, MI or Fort Wayne, IN.
” A full-time orchestra of 71 players doesn’t seem to be one of the things we can afford. But a smaller, leaner one is practical, and now is the time for that change to be made.”
Although it is certainly within the paper’s prerogative to endorse whatever position they wish, it would be better if they could reasonably demonstrate why they support a particular course of action.
In the Courier-Journal editorial, they claim that the orchestra’s financial problems are endemic, even so, they don’t offer a single bit of evidence they have actually conducted any research into the Louisville Orchestra’s financial history or examined any hard facts. Instead, they point out a few recent events with regard to negotiation offers made by the orchestra’s board and praise the orchestra’s outgoing executive director for having done “an impressive job in less than two years [there]”.
Frankly, that’s a sloppy way to offer commentary on a situation that is critical to Louisville’s future success and status among its peers. Sadly, the only thing this editorial proves is there may be a little substance behind the wretched stereotype that southerners are a bunch of oligarchical, undereducated, cultureless hillbillies.
Ever since the onset of public hostility between the Louisville Orchestra board and their musicians, the Courier-Journal editorial staff has demonstrated they favor the board’s position. Furthermore, they are apparently willing to sacrifice the paper’s journalistic credibility by allowing board president Joe Pusateri to publish his viewpoints under the headline “Orchestra president outlines problems issues with musicians” and with the byline and credentials of “Special to the Courier-Journal”.
To add insult to injury, the editorial staff released their first opinion piece about this issue on the very same day they published Joe Pusateri’s “Special to the Courier-Journal”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their opinion firmly supported all of Joe Pusateri’s positions.
This flagrant abuse of the Courier-Journal’s position allowed one side in an ongoing labor dispute to present their position without any journalistic oversight. Allowing Joe Pusateri to publish his own piece instead of assigning a reporter to ask questions, follow-up on points, and investigate claims demonstrates a sincere lack of journalistic due diligence. Furthermore, to publish an opinion piece on the very same day which advocated the positions outlined by Joe Pusateri should be enough for any competing media outlet to investigate a possible conflict of interest among the relationship between the paper’s editorial staff and/or owners and Joe Pusateri.
Thankfully, based on the amount of feedback I’ve observed at online discussion boards which examine this issue in addition to the voluminous amount of email and comments submitted to Adaptistration, I believe the people of Louisville don’t share the same opinions as the Courier-Journal editorial staff.
They understand that a professional level orchestra isn’t merely a tool used to build city status like some sort of box waiting to be checked off on a to-do list. They also understand that sort of mentality will gladly accept the lowest common denominator in those equations: “we don’t need a full time orchestra, we only need something just above a community ensemble, that way we can still say we’re cultured”.
History has proven time and time again that the influence of the collective population is one of the strongest incentives for civic, business, and journalistic leaders to credibly fulfill their duty and not cut corners or look for the easy way out. Louisville is no different, the keys to resolving this mess lay firmly in the hands of the Greater Louisville citizens. The more they make their voices heard, the quicker they can put this disaster behind them and move in a positive direction.