Another Major Newspaper Critic Position Enters Limbo

Continuing the decade-long trend of traditional newspapers eliminating cultural reporters, the Dallas Morning News may eliminate the full time music critic position following the departure of the current professional occupying that spot, Scott Cantrell.

Adaptistration People 133Cantrell recently accepted a buyout from the paper and published an article on 7/28/2015 by Jerome Weeks that details the transition along with examining where the field of cultural criticism is headed.

Cantrell’s articles have been regularly referenced here at Adaptistration; he was one of the few remaining traditional media music critics who was equally capable of reporting and investigating the steadily increasing pile of non-artistic topics that tend to trip up too many of his colleagues. On that point, I can’t think of a single interaction with him that wasn’t entirely professional; he has a knack for asking the right questions and it is always a pleasure to speak with him.

If nothing else, it is good to see he’ll be continuing with the paper for another season, albeit via a freelance basis, which he detailed in a response to Weeks’ article.

For now, although I’m taking the buyout, I’m glad to say the editors want me to stay on through next season on a reduced freelance basis. I will write less, but will try to give fair and representative coverage. This will give me the transitional period I’d actually hoped for, and give editors time to consider how they want to go forward with classical-music coverage. With the distinguished legacy of John Rosenfield and John Ardoin [previous DMN classical music critics], I obviously hope it will remain a full-time staff position. There certainly IS enough going on to validate it. We shall see…

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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