In June, the San Diego Union-Tribune laid off its art critic, Robert L. Pincus. At the time it was the latest example of a newspaper deciding that cultural coverage was unimportant, that covering city council meetings was pretty much all it had to do to cover its community and its community’s place in the world. It was a particularly bad cutback: Pincus is a good critic, respected by his peers. San Diego, the primary gateway between Mexico and California, is an interesting center of art production. It has two particularly strong art museums, a delightful jewel-box museum and one of America’s most important collections of public art.
Naturally, the U-T had a plan: People would be so outraged at the paper’s near-termination of arts coverage that community members would write for free on a blog set up by the U-T. Of course! What a good idea! What could possibly go wrong? Even better: This new art blog would be unedited. (Editors, you know, cost money.) What a good idea! What could possibly go wrong?
One of the volunteers the U-T recruited was Katherine Sweetman (on Twitter), an artist who has taught at numerous southern California colleges and universities. She wrote her first blog post… about what a hypocritical, free-loading, disgraceful paper she thinks the Union-Tribune is for trying to replace an admired critic with free labor. Her post sat on the Union-Tribune website for 13 hours yesterday until someone at the paper just happened to notice and took it down. It’s been re-published here. If you haven’t read it, you should. (Voice of San Diego also published it here.) It’s an instant internet classic.