THERE WAS A TIME WHEN EVERY
large American city had multiple daily
papers and each paper had a resident
drama critic. No more.
The rise of digital media has had a
huge impact on all aspects of journalism,
including theater criticism. According
to the Pew Research Center, in 1990,
62,328,000 Americans read a newspaper
every day. In 2017, that number was
down to 30,948,419. At the same time,
drama critics at daily papers have been
disappearing like dinosaurs. Still, to
proclaim the death of theater criticism or
of daily newspapers would be as premature
as to announce the death of theater itself.
When it comes to the arts, it seems the
rise of the Internet has merely exposed
a lack of commitment that has long
characterized daily print media. Whereas the
arts were always the mainstay of alternative
weekly papers and regional magazines, it has
always been a battle to convince city editors
at the dailies that the arts are an important
part of current events, and that qualified
writers should be assigned to cover them.
When the chips are down, the arts are
the first to go.
In 2015 and 2016, the Daily News,
the New York Post, and USA Today all
eliminated full-time theater critics.
The New York Times and Wall Street
Journal, the nation’s largest newspapers,
BY ANTHONY CHASE