But the story hardly stops there. The AJC is losing a "who's who" of senior writers due to a restructuring of the daily newspaper with what some might easily call a "virtual hatchet."
Even as two of its editors were announced winners of Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism, editorial columnist Cynthia Tucker (for commentary) and managing editor Hank Klibanoff (shared the prize for history), the daily newspaper is losing some 40 senior senior staffers in an "early retirement buyout" (including the AJC's only other extant Pulitzer winner, science writer Mike Toner), a number of other specific "beats" have been eliminated, and it appears many remaining writers will be obliged to compete for remaining jobs in a "reapplication" process.
"Features" appears to have been one of the departments hit hardest, with elimination of both the "classical music critic" position [Pierre Ruhe] (leaving two other staff music writers to compete against each other for the sole remaining "pop music" job) and "visual arts critic" post [Catherine Fox], as well as two of its three film critic jobs [Eleanor Ringel Gillespie was one of the senior writers to accept "early retirement"] to rely upon wire service reviews. (Atlanta's alternative weekly, Creative Loafing, for comparison, has two local film critics.)
I have tried to contact AJC classical music critic Pierre Ruhe by e-mail for comment, even off-the-record if he wishes, but have received no response as of yet.
Although daily newspapers all around have experienced severely decreasing readership, my personal opinion is this the equivalent of the AJC dropping its pants and mooning Atlanta's arts community, particularly the classical music world. (As many of you know, I cover classical music for Creative Loafing, and won an ASCAP/Deems Taylor award in 2003 for it, but in what I must admit appears to be less-and-less frequent assignments.) And according to one member of the Atlanta Symphony, another alternative weekly, The Sunday Paper, recently published a list of "top 40" influential people in Atlanta's music scene, and not one of them was part of the "classical" world, not even Robert Spano--but I have not personally seen the list, so I cannot confirm that report, though I will ask the SP's A&E editor for a copy.
But those I have spoken with about the AJC's changes regarding "classical music," even when it was far less clear late last week exactly what was transpiring, classical music supporters in Atlanta are upset--those who know about it, that is. I'm not even sure what we know now is all that clear, as a "job reapplication process" for remaining AJC writers will not be over until June 1, according to Creative Loafing reporter Scott Freeman--see second link below.
My own best guess at this juncture is that the AJC staff posts on the chopping block will continue to exist until the "reapplication" process is over, but I have no tangible confirmation of that at this time.
The first I heard that something was going down specifically with AJC coverage of "classical music" was Friday, April 13, during intermission of an Atlanta Symphony subscription concert. Nevertheless, please read more about it here:
Fear and loathing at the AJC
by Scott Freeman [Creative Loafing "Fresh Loaf" blog, April 13, 2007]
Newsroom musical chairs at the AJC
AJC loses top talent and familiar names; many who stay will have to find new beats
by Scott Henry [Creative Loafing, online/print editions, April 18/19, 2007]
|—Mark Gresham, composer/music journalist 21 Apr 2007|