Now that the 2008 Take A Friend To Orchestra program is completed, I can take a moment to properly address something that happened in connection to the ongoing situation at the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO). In particular, the 4/9/2008 edition of the Columbus Dispatch published an article by Michael Grossberg which stands out as the most reprehensible contribution to date among a string of disappointing articles that have been masquerading as acceptable coverage of the CSO’s current situation…
The article, titled "Criticisms of orchestra board prompt
issue-by-issue review," is nothing more than a thinly veiled straw man
argument hidden behind a copious number of line-item quotes from Henry
Fogel. Who knows if Henry was misquoted, was unaware of the Dispatch’s
intentions, or even offered those quotes before the CSO press blackout.
At the time this post is published, there is no mention of the Dispatch
article at the League website or Henry’s blog offering any insight;
consequently, one can only assume if Henry intended his comments to be
used to support the Dispatch’s review.
After initially reading the Dispatch article, I started to write a letter to the editor but quickly abandoned the idea after one of my favorite adages came to mind:
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.
At the risk of arguing against the idiotic points in the
dispatch article, I’m merely going to point out some of the more
unscrupulous practices that the Dispatch employed to make this article
the worst example of cultural reporting I have ever had the displeasure
of coming across:
- Publishing an "issue-by-issue review" based on quotes from
CSO managers and musician spokespersons during a period when all
parties have agreed to a press blackout, thereby preventing either side
a reasonable opportunity to respond, is inexcusable. The fact that the
Dispatch mentions the press blackout and that all statements "were
obtained before the groups entered into negotiations" doesn’t provide
any moral authority to launch an overt attack, pardon me, I mean
"prompt an issue-by-issue review" of excerpted public statements from
either side in the CSO situation (did anyone else notice there was no
link to the original statements so reader’s could place context?).
- Misrepresenting the organization’s financial position as
"limp[ing] from paycheck to paycheck" amounts to garden variety sloppy
reporting. The Dispatch article fails to outline how it came to that
conclusion and based on information from an interview with CSO
Executive Director, Tony Beadle, published
here on 3/24/2008 the organization is doing what every professional
orchestral organization does around this time of the season: paying
extra close attention to cash flow. Although my interview with Tony was
conducted during the press blackout, the ensuing information was
approved by both sides as it did not violate issues related to
negotiations. Perhaps the Dispatch should subscribe to Adaptistration’s
RSS feed so they can obtain the most recent information available
before publishing inaccurate statements like those from their 4/9/2008
article. But if they did that, they would already know they’ve been
inaccurately reporting statements from Tony Beadle.
The only thing remaining worth saying at this point is simply "shame on the Columbus Dispatch."