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25 Classical Music, Opera Journalists Chosen for NAJP Institute

Twenty-five journalists specializing in classical music and opera and hailing from 20 states as diverse as Iowa and Louisiana have been chosen as the first fellows to participate in a new program, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Opera and Classical Music. The institute is overseen by the National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The groundbreaking program at Columbia -- part of a national initiative supported by the NEA -- is the first to offer intensive training to opera and music critics and their editors who live and work outside the 10 largest media markets, where professional development opportunities are more limited.

"We could not be happier with the tremendous response to this unprecedented program," said Andras Szanto, director of the NAJP. "That the fellows come from 20 different states shows that the institute is filling a widespread need for better-informed journalists to cover classical music and opera. We believe these journalists and their readers will benefit from the institute's program for many years to come."

Now in its 10 th year of operation, the NAJP is the country's leading provider of mid-career training for working reporters, critics and editors who focus on the arts. In addition, the NAJP is a think tank that serves arts journalism with a full range of research, conferences and publications.

About the New Program

Beginning Oct. 18, these 25 journalists will be immersed in 10 days of classroom and hands-on sessions conducted by distinguished Columbia faculty and other leading experts in the field. The institute provides basic skills of arts criticism and an understanding of the history and fundamental concepts of classical music, opera and other performing arts. The participants will attend great performances, at such renowned sites as Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and Columbia's own Miller Theatre. The program will be repeated for an additional 25 journalists in the 2005-2006 academic year. Almost all of the participants' expenses are covered.

"This innovative program in classical music and opera coverage combines the intellectual resources of the University, its School of Journalism and the NAJP with the vibrant city of New York ," said Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University . "These writers and editors will be exposed to new ideas and experiences that will boost their professional skills and expand their journalistic range."

The NAJP training seminar is part of a $1 million national initiative through the NEA Arts Journalism Institute. Besides the Columbia University program, there is a program for theater journalists at The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a program for journalists who focus on dance at the American Dance Festival at Duke University.

"The arts depend enormously on lively and knowledgeable criticism," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Providing access to the arts for all Americans in many ways begins with informed public coverage. Our new program at Columbia will undoubtedly add more and experienced voices to guide those conversations."

First Group of NAJP Participants

Participants in the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera are:

  • Erin Auerbach, staff writer, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, California)
  • Richard Bammer, arts and entertainment editor and writer, The Reporter (Vacaville, California)
  • Cathalena Burch, staff writer, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Carla Carlton, arts and entertainment editor, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky)
  • Jennifer Graves, staff writer, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)
  • Sarah Hayes, arts and entertainment editor, The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  • Heidi Hiaasen, staff writer, The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon)
  • Michael Huebner, staff writer, Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • Alexandyr Kent, freelancer, The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana)
  • Kurt Loft, staff writer, The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida)
  • Keith Marshall, staff writer, The Times Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Grant Menzies, freelancer, Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon)
  • Tracy Mobley-Martinez, staff writer, The State Newspaper (Columbia, South Carolina)
  • Joseph Nickell, staff writer, Missoulian Daily (Missoula, Montana)
  • Kimberly Nowacki, staff writer, Yakima-Herald Times (Yakima, Washington)
  • Dana Oland, staff writer, The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)
  • Gary Panetta, staff writer, The Journal Star (Peoria, Illinois)
  • Thomas Pantera, staff writer, The Forum (Fargo, North Dakota)
  • Matt Peiken, staff writer, St. Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota)
  • Amanda Pierre, staff writer, Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa)
  • Terry Rindfleisch, staff writer, La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wisconsin)
  • Christopher Shull, staff writer, The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas)
  • Rasmi Simhan, staff writer, The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California)
  • James Watts, staff writer, Tulsa World, (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  • David Williams, affiliated staff writer, Charleston Gazette (Charleston, West Virginia)

Other NAJP Initiatives

The new program for classic music and opera critics complements other fellowships and initiatives run by The National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University.

'Shifting Ears'

For instance, immediately prior to the new program, critics of classical music from across the country will gather at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism for a rare symposium to explore the past history, present issues and future hope for their profession. The Oct. 15-17 symposium -- "Shifting Ears" -- will provide music critics with an opportunity for self-scrutiny in the midst of several simultaneous revolutions that have completely transformed the terrain of classical music within the span of one generation. This NAJP project, to which the 25 classical music and opera fellows are invited, is sponsored in partnership with the Music Critics Association of North America, the American Music Center, Columbia University's Department of Music and Miller Theatre.

'Reporting the Arts II'

Later this fall, the NAJP will release its second comprehensive study of how the media cover the arts. Due out in early October, Reporting the Arts II examines the dramatic transformation of the media landscape in the wake of recent newspaper mergers, the September 11 th attacks and declines in the U.S. economy. This landmark study also takes a first-time look at foreign arts reporting, the non-English and alternative press as well as coverage on the radio and Internet.

Reporting the Arts II follows in the footsteps of a prior study, Reporting the Arts: News Coverage of Arts and Culture in America, which proved that despite popular perceptions, local newspapers, national publications, network television and the Associated Press were running a robust number of thought-provoking pieces on America's vibrant and varied cultural scene. The new study finds that the continuing expansion and diversification of the arts since 1998 has not been matched by increased attention to the arts in the nation's news media.

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Published: Sep 14, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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