Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Today in questionable journalism, Detroit edition

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Today’s Detroit News offers a strange story on Detroit Institute of Arts director Graham Beal and on DIA salaries. The writer, Robert Snell, and his editors seem to think Beal’s salary is newsworthy and a big deal. (Snell thinks other things are a big deal too, and he’s wrong about most of them… but for the sake of brevity I’ll confine this post to two issues.)

Among other things, Snell suggests that it’s outrageous that salaries at the DIA are up 17 percent since 2010. Snell did not note that inflation over that same period is 7 percent, which means DIA execs received raises that didn’t much outpace inflation. I’m not sure why raises that were a smidge higher than twice the rate of inflation is news.

Then Snell insinuated that Beal is overpaid… but provided no context with which to judge Beal’s compensation package. This morning on Twitter, I noted the reporting that Snell apparently refused to do. As you’ll see, Beal’s total compensation package falls pretty much in the middle-range. All figures are taken from the most recent tax filings by the relevant institutions. (You may wish to read from the bottom.):

Snell responded to my tweets with this:

There is no $720M “bailout” of the DIA. There is a rescue fund-in-process for the city of Detroit, which will come from state coffers, private foundations and a fundraising pledge by the DIA itself. No one at the DIA — not Beal, not other staffers — will see a penny of that $720M. Beal and other DIA staffers are paid what they’re paid because they are paid salaries appropriately commensurate with what their peers, other art museum staffers, are paid.

Snell’s story is an under-reported, context-lacking hit-job. The News should set the record straight.

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  1. The Ziggurat says:

    For the love of God, thank you for doing this.

  2. […] week on MAN: Considering some context for Michael Snow’s Sight (1968); the Detroit News runs a poorly researched story on a small, apparently carefully selected set of Detroit Institute of Arts salaries; the bulleted […]

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