The departure this spring of Michael Feingold came right after Backstage magazine chopped its reviews section and just before the AP announced it would no longer cover Off-Broadway.* But the former Village Voice theater critic writes in an essay for theatermania.com that he understands the motivation for these moves. And that his piece today is not a personal rant.
In the hit-tastic world of digital media, theater reviews don’t draw the clicks. So, freelancers are put in place of former full-timers, and able hands borrowed as necessary from other departments:
At my termination meeting, the Voice’s editorial director told me, in a compassionate tone, that management now felt having a full-time theater critic on staff was a “luxury” the paper could do without.
I found it ironic (albeit slightly flattering) to be classed as a luxury, by an executive whose salary was probably triple mine; that she considered a full-time theater critic not a necessity for a New York media outlet struck me as genuinely dismaying.