Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Job" Opening at Baltimore Sun

Well, here's a job that I'm not sure I could recommend: working a as freelance music critic for the Baltimore Sun.

Copied and pasted from the web page I linked to:
The Baltimore Sun seeks a freelance critic to review the broad array of classical performances in the Baltimore region. These can include, but are not limited to, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Baltimore Concert Opera and the Peabody Institute. We are keen to reflect the diversity of the classical community in the Baltimore area. 
Plan, in concert with an editor, a schedule of reviews that encompasses the variety within the Baltimore region’s classical scene Write with accuracy, knowledge, speed, flair and an accessible voiceMeet deadlinesEngage with and grow a network of followers on social media. Qualifications 
Three years of critical experience at a journalistic organizationExcellent writing skills Proven ability to build an audience via social mediaFamiliarity with and interest in Baltimore-area classical organizationsThe Baltimore Sun is committed to building a diverse correspondent network that reflects the people it covers and the audience it serves. Candidates are encouraged to highlight new perspectives they can bring to our team.

This is apparently a full-time music critic's job and requires three years of experience at a critic; however, you'll be paid as a freelancer, presumably by the article, and you'll get benefits just like a freelancer, which is to say, none. I have no idea how many freelancers there are who live close enough to Baltimore to be familiar with the scene - and who have either employment that takes care of health insurance or a spouse whose health insurance will keep them covered.

I'm also disturbed by that bit about "Proven ability to build an audience via social media." I mean, I suppose I could sorta demonstrate this, given my 1500 Twitter followers, but I'm not Alex Ross and neither is any other working critic: Alex has north of 100,000 followers, Anne Midgette of the Washington Post has 22,500, Anthony Tommasini of the NY Times has 7262, Zachary Woolfe, the most visible Times critic, has 9683, and James Jorden of Parterre Box has 3,197 (that was a shock; I figured he'd turn up in the 25,000 or higher range).

Honestly, I think that this part of the job is the job of the Sun's social media department. I certainly wouldn't make it a job requirement or expect any freelancer to have a huge following.

This is all related to something Tim Mangan, former critic of the Orange County Register, formerly in-house writer for the Pacific Sympony, wrote about last year: the hobbification of criticism, where it's something done on the side rather than a full-time profession, owing to the decline of print and on-line newspapers willing to pay for criticism. It is a real shame that the Sun is going down this path.

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