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Why Arts Coverage Should be More Like Sports

On any given week, arguably more people attend arts events than professional sports. Movies, theatre, dance recitals, and concerts collectively draw large numbers.

Then why is the daily sports section of our local newspapers twelve to eighteen pages on a regular basis while the daily arts sections are small, four to six page sections full of wire copy — if you can find them at all?

Chris Lavin, senior editor for special sections at the San Diego Union-Tribune, attempts to answer the question. Read the text of his speech to the national convention of the Association of Performing Arts Service Organization.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at February 12, 2004 10:17 PM in A & E



The bright boys at the newspapers will tell you the sports pages are fat because they attract then you go and count the column inches. Nada. There are days when the Sun and the Province have no ads at all in the sports section. (To which the BB will tell you that the sports section attracts ads in, er, the classifieds for, er, cars.)

The fall back is that lots of readers like the sports pages - a position which ignores the fact that lots of readers like arts reporting. In fact, I suspect there are far more readers who read Arts coverage than read Sports stories. (Figure next to no women read sports, at least half the male readers will look at movie and book reviews...this is not hard math.)

The interesting question is why the Sports pages remain so bloated....

I think you are missing one point. Sports have new events/games/contests every night. Movies/plays/books etc tend to repeat the same performance for months (if successful) and you can only write about the same movie/play/book so many times.

There is also an emotional attachment these sports fans have to their teams. I am at a loss to explain the exaltation these fans display when their team scores. Fans of the arts do not seem to have the same emotional attachment to any particular artist. It would follow that these sports fans are easy marks to sell useless products to.

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