Tuesday, January 6, 2009

LA Times "Culture Monster" Swallows SAFE Bait-- Hook, Line and Sinker

Like many other once powerful newspapers, the venerable LA Times is dying a slow and painful death. Circulation numbers and profits are way down. Editorial staff are being laid off. See: http://www.variety.com/VR1117994774.html Like other news outlets, the LA Times may even eventually have to abandon the print format altogether just to survive.

Perhaps, this sad state of affairs helps explain why the LA Times "Culture Monster" published what appeared to be little more than a publicity piece for the upcoming Renfrew talks being sponsored by the archaeological advocacy group Saving Antiquities for Everyone or "SAFE." In the initial piece, the "Culture Monster" reported that Lord Renfrew had planned to criticize the MET for failing to adopt as stringent acquisition standards as the Getty or even agreeing to adopt the acquisition standards of the AAMD, a group with which the MET is affiliated. See: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/01/gettys-antiquit.html

The problem is that the MET has in fact adopted the new AAMD standards, a fact reported on the "CultureGirrl" blog some time ago. See: http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/2008/06/met_gives_up_its_10year_rollin.html What is a "Culture Monster" to do then? Apologize for the mistake? Of course not-- he's a "Monster" after all. So instead, why not just take the opposite tact and give Renfrew and SAFE yet another opportunity to take the MET to task for not going "far enough?" See: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/01/metropolitan-mu.html

The real problem here of course is not the MET, but the declining journalistic standards at the LA Times. One would have hoped that the "Culture Monster" would have learned the hard way that relying on an advocacy group with an axe to grind against collectors and museums for one's stories is a recipe for trouble. But that would not appear to be the case given the "Culture Monster's" approach to "correcting" the story. Normally, editorial staff would be expected to help avoid such problems, but as we have seen, many of them have been laid off.

And what of SAFE? "PhDiva" has an amusing take on SAFE and Renfrew "taking credit" for "changing" the MET's policies. See: http://phdiva.blogspot.com/2009/01/metropolitan-museum-2-lord-renfrew-0.html Now that's Chutzpa! And I thought the "Culture Monster" was bad....

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