Nonprofit arts booster ArtsGreensboro has agreed to underwrite expanded arts coverage in Warren Buffett’s Greensboro News & Record.
Editor and publisher Jeff Gauger explains:
In our agreement, the News & Record has committed to publishing at least 70 stories about local arts topics during the next year. That’s 70 more stories than we would have published without this agreement.
About half of these stories will be reviews of arts events. The remainder will be articles about arts institutions, people in the arts, upcoming events and the like.
Here’s the disclosure the paper will use: “This News & Record arts coverage is supported by contributions to ArtsGreensboro’s Arts & Theatre Media Fund.”
Gauger acknowledges that “in the past, we newspaper journalists would have said ‘no way’ to such an arrangement, and we probably would have been a tad holier-than-thou about it. I can hear the echoes even now: Sniff, sniff, nose in the air … ‘We don’t partner.’”
What if the paper gets word of an ArtsGreensboro scandal – a sexual harassment case or insider theft, for example? Will the paper investigate its partner aggressively? Does ArtsGreensboro understand that it’s not exempt from reporters’ scrutiny? I’ve asked Gauger and will post his response when it arrives.
Update — Gauger writes in an email:
“Of course we’ll cover ArtsGreensboro aggressively where our news values dictate that we must, even if the organization doesn’t welcome some of the coverage.
“We’ve long been able to negotiate the occasional expectation from advertisers that doing business with us should create a safe zone for them. This is different only insofar as the underwriting support pays for news coverage directly while advertising support for journalism is one step removed. But the potential need to act independently in the face of complaints and even financial consequences would be no different in this case, given the right future circumstances.
“Meanwhile, we’ll celebrate this win-win-win for ArtsGreensboro, the News & Record and especially readers.”