There has been a lot of critique over what the Chicago Symphony Orchestrahas started with its new “CSO Sounds & Stories” multimedia magazine. People are questioning what they are doing, and whether the content they are producing is really”arts journalism.” So what if some of the Journals or write-ups look like what you would find in the newspaper or on a blog about the industry. The editors and writers of this site have written in that medium before. It takes time to evolve, and this is where I see that the Chicago Symphony has a potential golden ticket on its hands.
Sure, if you want to be precise and say that for “arts journalism” to be “real journalism,” the writers should be independent, not a part of your organization then thats go ahead. There will be some bias here on this new site and I think thats ok. Let the CSO write what they want. They are using reputable writers. If they want to, they could stop calling it “journalism” to make everyone happy. But they are still producing more content than others, and are the first major American Orchestra to create a site like this and guess what, have gotten others to write about them in the mean time. This is what I mean. They are taking the lead and responding to where their audience is, targeting the younger demographic who are always online, and still telling stories while doing it.
Personally, I love the site, and I don’t care who the writers are as long as they have some voice and the CSO remains transparent. This is a media site. There are big buttons to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter on every page. The CSO is pushing the traditional boundaries via how everyone used to disseminate their content. They have realized this medium is more appropriate for long form content where I think it wouldn’t work well on another platform. They have realized that they can less often get others to do the work, and can still own it and remarket it whenever they want. Why deal with separate media companies? Sounds & Stories has become a great way to connect with their social media outlets without having to visit each one separately. They became their own media company and are doing it well because in this context, the content is still transparent.
The CSO is still a brand, and I think people will eventually trust this site because, from what it seems, they are making an effort to be honest and authentic. There will always be push back, thats to be expected, especially from an older crowd. The millennials know this experimentation is the future and it probably doesn’t scare them as much.