Arts and Journalism in the Digital Age

Tuesday, June 19, 2:00 EDT/ 11:00 PDT  [PASSED]
Douglas McLennan,
Bill O'Brien, National Endowment for the Arts

Session 3 of the  2012 Web Conference Series
A recording of this presentation is available here.

This series is free to the staff and board members of GIA member organizations. The fee for nonmembers is $35 per session.


With newspapers and broadcasters slashing their arts coverage, even as Yelp, Amazon, and 300,000 arts blogs blossom, the inevitable questions arise: do we need professional critics, and if so, how can they survive? This Web Conference will discuss the changing field of arts journalism, its challenges and opportunities, and initiatives exploring its evolution in a changing culture, including the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, first introduced to the GIA community at the 2011 Conference, and the new Center for Arts, Media & Audience at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Presented by Douglas McLennan, Arts Journalist, Critic, Founder and Editor; Bill O’Brien, Senior Advisor for Program Innovation, National Endowment for the Arts.

Presenter Bios:
Douglas McLennan is an arts journalist and critic and the founder and editor of, the leading aggregator of arts journalism on the internet. Prior to starting ArtsJournal, he was arts columnist and music critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A former concert pianist, McLennan holds a Master's degree in music from the Juilliard School in New York. He has performed in Asia, Europe, and North America and lived and worked in Italy and in China, where he spent a year as artist-in-residence at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. McLennan has written on the arts for numerous publications, including as music critic for, and his work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, the London Evening Standard, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered. He is executive director of the new Center for Arts, Media & Audience at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, and a visiting professor in arts management at Claremont Graduate University for the 2011-12 year. He is a recipient of several awards for arts criticism and reporting, including a National Arts Journalism Program Fellowship at Columbia University and a Deems Taylor/ASCAP Award for music journalism.
Bill O’Brien is a senior executive at the National Endowment responsible for exploring, examining, and identifying innovative and/or emerging practices, programs, and endeavors in the arts. He recently helped organize two convenings of the nation’s leading artists and scientists in partnership with the National Science Foundation: Re/search: Art, Science and Information Technology and Symbiotic Art & Science: An Investigation at the Intersection of Life Sciences and the Arts. O’Brien also serves as the Agency’s lead on the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge and on the Operation Homecoming Initiative, a partnership between the NEA and the Department of Defense to investigate the use of expressive writing as a formal medical protocol to help heal service members at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland. Previously, he served the agency as Deputy Chairman of Grants and Awards, and prior to that, as the Director of Theater and Musical Theatre. Before joining the Endowment, O’Brien was Managing Director for Deaf West Theater, where he received numerous awards and nominations for producing the Broadway sign language musical production of BIG RIVER. He also appeared on all seven seasons as Kenny (Marlee Matlin's voice/interpreter) on NBC's The West Wing.