Arts Community to The New York Times: #DontIgnoreNJ

By Maddie Orton
Arts Correspondent

Newspapers making difficult cuts is something we’ve come to expect in the internet age, but the ripple effects from dwindling coverage remain a constant battle for those who rely on articles and critic reviews to pique public interest. The New York Times has announced it will discontinue the New Jersey regional edition of its Metropolitan section as of Aug. 29. Statewide advocacy group ArtPride New Jersey is not accepting the Times’ statement as final.

“ArtPride has started a public petition to urge The New York Times to re-examine their eradication of regional zone coverage,” said ArtPride NJ President and CEO Adam Perle. “Critic reviews are shrinking and nothing quite has the impact as when you can put ‘Superb’ -New York Times’ on your playbill, or on your marketing materials or on your restaurant Yelp or Google page.”

Over 2,000 people have already signed on to the petition — supporters like Kelly Blithe, Communications Director for New Brunswick’s State Theater.

“I mean, it’s another outlet that’s kind of going away that we’ve depended on,” Blithe said. “Just to have a feature, or just a photo in the calendar section, our ticket office would receive those calls, ‘I saw you in The New York Times’ and that excitement.”

New Jersey isn’t the only region hurting from this decision. Connecticut, Westchester and Long Island will also see an end to their editions of the Metropolitan section. This will mean a decrease in local news coverage of all kinds, reviews and event listings. In its place, these regions will receive the same Metropolitan section as the five boroughs of New York City.

Is it worth it for Blithe to advertise in a New York City Metro Section to get Jersey readers?

“I think it’s something we have to think about,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a harder buy for us to buy into just a New York City paper.”

No one from the Times was available for interview, but a spokesperson offered this statement:

“The decision to discontinue the local culture reviews and features in the regional editions of the Metropolitan section of The New York Times was not one we made lightly. Due to the financial realities of our business, The Times must devote resources to coverage that will help grow and sustain our journalism in the future. For readers the shift will mean more investigations and deeply reported stories as part of our metro coverage.”

The statement goes on to remind that the Times’ Arts section will continue to include features and reviews from across the nation.

That ‘growing and sustaining journalism’ gets to the heart of this matter. Unless newspapers have the revenue to maintain the offerings of their halcyon days, room for ‘all the news that’s fit to print,’ will continue to dwindle.