Things That Make You Go Buh?!? The Huffington Post

It’s been more than a year since the last episode in this series, but given the wackiness that is the season of discontent, it was bound to happen. However, the source material for this installment doesn’t come from an orchestra stewing in a labor dispute; instead, it’s the newest leader in lowest common denominator tabloidesque cultural commentary: The Huffington Post (THP).

newspaperTwo recent examples demonstrate why it’s time to act.

First up is a hyperbolic rant from David Beem that buries whatever point he was attempting to make in a sea of blanket accusations and the subtlety of a “Kill ’em all and let God sort it out!” approach. In short, if you’re going to go around metaphorically shooting zombies in the head amid the post-apocalyptic cultural landscape, you’d better take an extra second to make sure the skull in your crosshairs isn’t actually the day of reckoning Moses that is Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee strolling down Ambien Avenue on a bad hair day.

The latest contribution is from the field’s favorite alarmist pseudo-intellectual Chicken Little doom-monger, Tony Woodcock. And by favorite, I mean in the same way Donald Trump is America’s most beloved media whore.

The post is a a veritable club sandwich of  logical fallacy; but hey, if you think the future of classical music performing arts organizations is the mission driven equivalent of a Sonny and Cher style prime time variety hour, then this is some serious weapon’s grade crapulence you’ll want to spend some quality time wallowing in.

At this point, THP seems hell bent on presenting new and creative ways to miss the point but the upside is our collective response is remarkable simple. Here’s what I’m asking everyone to do: stop reading The Huffington Post through the end of the calendar year.

Hopefully, that extended cold shoulder will be enough to get THP back on the straight and narrow by offering their popular outlet as a platform for contributors with observations and ideas that don’t confuse challenging with catchpenny.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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4 thoughts on “Things That Make You Go Buh?!? The Huffington Post”

  1. I think you’ve touched on a vital point here Amy in that folks will likely walk away with different points that struck them most. In the end, each one likely holds greater interest for some folks as compared to others but hitting all of them in a single post begins to feel like beating a dead horse.

    Nonetheless, I hope folks follow your lead and take the time to post comments with their observations as I would be surprised if other readers won’t find it useful to either see that someone else noticed what s/he did or appreciate a perspective that was perhaps overlooked.

  2. “this is some serious weapon’s grade crapulence you’ll want to spend some quality time wallowing in”. Ha ha.

    I think Mr. Woodcock’s article made me forget momentarily what it is I do for a living. Anyway, it doesn’t offer any ideas that would address either economic viability or artistic excellence which is the underlying tug of war between many current orchestra managements and musicians,. I didn’t wallow very long, though. Maybe I missed the point.

  3. TW’s blog may have its heart in the right place–making classical orchestral music relevant to a larger segment of the population (“Why not grab this moment when we could take orchestral music and its performers to the center of our society rather than their languishing at the periphery? “), but it goes along the lines of “we must destroy the village in order to save it.” We are in a niche society where there isn’t much of any communal experience at the center of society (Taylor Swift?; Adele?; Lady Gaga?–really?). Certainly, education of the next generation–especially getting them to play traditional instruments–is a great idea. Building from the ground up like Venezuela seems promising. Yet, I can’t see how dismantling our orchestras to send the players into the educational countryside, like some classical Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, is going to do a lot.

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