Editor’s Letter

Jeff Weinstein

I’ve shopped in pop-up stores and eaten in pop-up restaurants – but a pop-up newsroom? When my friends and colleagues Douglas McLennan of artsjournal.com and Sasha Anawalt at USC proposed that I help them plan and edit such a strange 21st-century beastie, I was fascinated. We’d have 21 theater-arts journalists from around the country, because this pop-up would be a new incarnation of the NEA’s training program, the Arts Journalism Institute for Theater and Musical Theater. What an opportunity! But this would also be a potentially crucial experiment, because arts journalism – a dull phrase – is in trouble and needs muscular innovation as well as solid traditional talent to survive.

So for help, we reached out to editors and critics who have vigorous, passionate journalism in their blood, and look who we got: Susan Brenneman from the L.A. Times, Laurie Ochoa of Slake, Dominic Papatola from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, and Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Add to this jaw-dropping “edit me!” staff the talents of USC’s Edward Lifson, L.A. Weekly’s Steven Leigh Morris, Suzi Steffen from the University of Oregon … and even more wonderful folks who tossed more ideas into the air than we could possibly catch.

I learned so very much, but two things stand out. In the new newsroom, “digital” and “editorial” aren’t resentful experts chained together, but equal partners in creativity. And because we challenged and inspired one another during these exciting and exhausting 18-hour workdays, something wonderful happened: we strangers became a team.

For that, my grateful thanks.


Jeff Weinstein

Writer and editor Jeff Weinstein mashes together culture, gay issues and food on his artsjournal.com blog, Out There.

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  1. I have been watching this project from afar. It has been totally amazing and I wish I were there with all of you. Bravo to everyone involved.

    Best Regards,