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Blog wars

Don't know about you, but I like to start my day catching up with what's going on in the world in general, the theater world specifically.  I read the Miami Herald, of course, plus the New York Times, and many of the stories on the Broadway Stars, Playbill and American Theater Web sites.  Sometimes I read Arts Journal, a highbrow site about all the arts (though it contains the work of a Philadelphia theater blogger who calls her blog Drama Queen -- and I'm sorry, but cyberspace isn't big enough for the two of us!).  Just kidding, sort of.

Anyhow, I now also read two South Florida theater blogs.  South Florida Theatre Scene is the work of Christopher Jahn, an actor/stage manager/theater pro, who most often uses it to review/recapitulate the work of South Florida's critics.  There are fewer of us doing theater criticism full-time now -- the Sun Sentinel's Jack Zink has passed away, and the Palm Beach Post's Hap Erstein took a buyout -- and Jahn also uses his blog to agitate for more theater coverage.  I'm down with that, but the perfect storm of a horrendous economy and the rapidly shrinking newsroom does not bode well for the return of one critical voice at either paper.  Think freelance critics, because that's the way it's going at more and more newspapers. Some, like Bill Hirschman and Mary Damiano, write knowledgeable, stylish reviews.  Others, not so much. And it's difficult -- for readers and those in the theater community -- to know whether you can trust a paper's reviews when the bylines keep changing.

The other South Florida blog, Theatre Row, is -- how to put it? -- more problematic.  Theatre Row is the work of "senior editor" Gert Rodon (whom I don't know), Rene Rodriguez (not the Herald's movie critic) and others, including a "critic" who goes only by the initials DSP.  The idea behind Theatre Row seems to be "fun" (that word gets used a lot) of the bitchy variety.  There's a weekly Friday gossip item called Blind Spot, in which the scandalous behavior of one or two local theater practitioners is dissected, with the guilty given a pseudonym.  The stories are pretty vile, and until a blog bitchfest broke out recently, people would comment on the items by posting what they thought were the real names of the subjects, thereby tarnishing the reps of both the guilty and the innocent.  Blind Spot will still appear, but now without the guessing game.

Apparently, the besmirched have been asking about the cred of those behind Theatre Row.  Rodon wrote recently, "As for who we ARE and ARE NOT [caps hers].  We have stated ALL that we are going to on the matter. You get nothing more."

Pretty touchy for someone who tied Blind Spot to the tradition of blind items written by greats like Edward R. Murrow, Louella Parsons and Hedda Harper(sic).  Probably Hedda Hopper too (old school things like spelling and grammar aren't high on Theatre Row's list of priorities).

As arts journalism changes at what seems like warp speed, blogging has given journalists, theater pros, really anyone with an interest in the arts the chance to get in on the conversation.  That's a good thing.  But journalistic standards, training and experience do matter.  The blogosphere is like the wild west.  You just have to read enough to figure out whom you can trust.  Or not.




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CL Jahn

You left out "set designer" and "production manager," the two jobs I have done most often most recently. But that's OK, I can't keep track of all the hats I wear, either. There are just so darn many hats.

I'm not sure if it's implied that I'm involved in a Blog War: we're not involved in any sort of dispute with each other. They have a blog, and I have a blog. I make no claims about my blog versus their blog, and I feel that each blog has a slightly different mission. As you write, South Florida Theatre Scene is more about aggregating news about South Florida Theatre from many sources into one place for ease of access. I am not interested in reviewing plays, although I collate and even comment on theatre reviews written by others.

By the way, while I created the blog, and am the primary contributor, the Theatre Scene has a few other contributors. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that some fine articles have been posted by Conundrum Stages. The Promethean Theatre and the Naked Stage have also posted to The Scene.

Thanks for reading!


BLOG WARS is a bit much. We have nothing against Theatre Scene as a matter of fact we are learning a great deal from them. To say that our Blind Spot items backfired on us is putting it lightly. We are still learning. THANKS FOR THE SPANKING C.L.J. may I have another?

Deborah L. Sherman


I posted the following response on Theatre Row's website. I wanted to share it with you here.


Deborah L. Sherman said...
i had no idea this was happening...thanks for the heads up christine! i have too much to do in my everyday life to hover and linger on the web to see if people are talking about me...i just assume they are and move on...it matters not to me...anyone who actually KNOWS me, or my work will tell you that...i think if you had real balls you would do EXACTLY what Perez Hilton does...he names himself...and the people he pisses off because he STANDS BEHIND HIS INFORMATION...i have gone back and read some of your blogs...obviously comments are misssing and it looks like i should be thankful since there is allusion that some nastyness on here has been about me personally (NOT ABOUT MY WORK which would actually be RELEVANT)and about many people i know and love personally...i am not surprised...as long as i have been a member of the theatre world there has ALWAYS been nasyness and back-biting...i have always spoken my truth, been honest about myself AND OTHERS in the WORK...attacking people personally shows your lack of spine and to be honest, creativity...but i will not ask you to stop...it is totally your right...i am fortunate to have great friends and people around me whom i admire and love very much...THOSE are the opinions that matter to me directly...since you and your "staff" are not on that list of people for me i have to be o.k. with whatever vitirol you choose to spew...i have been an ACTIVE member of this community for over 8 years...say what you want about me...i am sure i have earned your rancor as i am a strong, smart, woman who doesnt care what ANYONE thinks...that is a fact...you can dress a turd up all you want...at the end of the day its still a turd. HAVE FUN...and i am sure it will be at my expense...i also know where some of your "information" is coming from...and i am not surprised in the least...at its misinformation and sources.


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