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December 23   -   Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

The Wagner Society dislikes the new-look New York Times

The following email has been sent to the Arts section editors of The New York Times: As President of the Wagner Society of New York, I, plus many thousands of readers of The New York Times, have noticed over many months, and most recently in the last two weeks, that the coverage of culture in the Arts pages has greatly decreased. I’m also writing on behalf of my husband Harry L. Wagner (editor of our publications); we have relied on the Times for decades as a source of information and reviews. Announcements of the redesigned Arts sections have appeared in recent days, beginning on Dec. 11. The editors stated that they are “excited about design changes and new features.” We are exercised, not excited, about these changes. You are giving much less space to the events listings, and also much less space to reviews of music events, as has been the case for some time. This is a very bad trend, seen nationally, but one had hoped that the Times would not succumb to this weakening and dilution of arts coverage. The arts, particularly music, are the reason many of us live in the New York area, and the Times needs to cover this essential aspect of life, including for its national readers.. On Dec. 13, we were informed in an boxed item entitled “A New Look for These Pages” that there is an expanded “Arts, Briefly” column and we note the new feature “Ready, Set, Go — Your Daily Arts Fix” which selects three items that we should look for. But we need listings, not editorial opinions in an over-designed format. Huge and excessive photos in the Arts sections mean they don’t have to do as much work in compiling the listings that are far more valuable to their readers. Photos have been getting bigger and bigger; information and listings, fewer and fewer, and highly selective. One editorial response to a reader and friend stated: “You can find all of our classical music reviews online at .” This link is not adequate. The editors don’t seem to realize that many who read the paper (and not just online) are very literate, support the arts, and want better coverage, not only for themselves as listeners/viewers, but also for the benefit of artists/performers. We will buy tickets for a myriad of music events, and we have the best and most diverse in the world in New York, deserving of advance listings and reviews. We note the following message from the editors, which has appeared briefly in Arts sections: “Tell us what you think at ” Thus, we are giving you our feedback and are also sharing this message with our members. We want to let you know our views as soon as possible, before you erroneously assume that these changes are acceptable. Thank you for your help with this issue that affects us all. Nathalie D. Wagner President Wagner Society of New York

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