Get me rewrite! (Image courtesy of Olivander.)
Regular readers of C-Monster.net will know that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks directing evil thought waves at the L.A. Times. This is because roughly a fortnight ago, the paper where I held my first media job (features department assistant — the glamour!), had debuted an arts and culture blog called Culture Monster, which, needless to say, hits a bit close to home. After a couple of rather hysterical posts on the subject, I decided that the best course of action was to write the L.A. Times a very nice letter, asking them to reconsider their blog’s name. Crazy. I know. But I figured that even though I haven’t been part of the blogosphere since its paleolithic days (1998), I have managed to get linked to by one or two well-known arts sites over the course of my short and senseless existence. Besides if there’s one thing I can claim in all of this, it’s my name. Because how “monstrous” is a newspaper arts blog ever truly going to get?
Anyhow, after sending my note (to a battalion of arts editors, writers and even the reader representatives), all I heard for roughly a week was crickets. (Though the reader reps were kind enough to send me a mass-produced form letter thanking me for my thoughts.) Then I got a nice response back from a blog editor saying that my e-mail was being considered and that someone would get back to me with a decision. And ever since then all I’ve heard are more crickets. Last week, I reached a point where I was worn out enough to let the matter quietly drop. But then I figured it’d be far better to go out in a kamikaze blaze. Either that, or I was gonna have to challenge Christopher Knight to a Jell-o wrestling match. (I think I could take him.)
Anyhow, this is all a long way of saying that I’m posting my letter to the Times. (Read it after the jump.) Please forgive the first paragraph, where I talk about how important I am. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the art industry, it’s that being a gasbag usually gets you waaaaaay farther than humility.
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For more than a year, I have produced an arts and architecture blog called C-Monster.net. It has been featured on arts blogs such as Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Art to Go and Time magazine’s Looking Around. It has also been linked to by respected, independent arts blogs such as Art Vent and Art Fag City and institutional blogs like the Walker Center’s Off Center. C-Monster has also received mentions in the print and online editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In addition, my blog has been linked to by popular non-arts sites such as Eyeteeth, Animal, Pink Tentacle and Coudal. This year, I was named a 2008 USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism fellow based on the work I’ve done on the blog.
I bring this up because this week the L.A. Times debuted Culture Monster, an arts and architecture blog whose name closely echoes my own. As a colleague in the media, I would like you to reconsider the title of your site.
There are three reasons why I am making this request:
- Because it could be confusing. C-Monster and Culture Monster will line up next to each other on all those arts website blogrolls. When I started blogging, I purposely chose a distinct title, one that had nothing to do with any other art sites. I was very keen to avoid any sort of misidentification. My name and my site’s identity, however, are rendered less unique by the Times‘s choice in title.
- Because it would be a cool thing to do. It’d be nice if the L.A. Times, an established media organization, recognized and supported the contributions of an independent, if unorthodox, colleague in the media. I’ve been working independently under the name C-Monster for more than a year. I’ve also maintained that identity on Flickr since 2005. (Mr. Pierce, the L.A. Times blog editor, is likely familiar with my work, since LAist, the site he once worked on, has regularly carried my images, including this piece that he wrote.)
- Because this whole thing, whether inadvertent or not, doesn’t make the L.A. Times look good. Bloggers, whether from established media outlets or working independently, form a daily online community where ideas are exchanged, criticized and celebrated. The art blogging community-like the art world-is a particularly small one, and at present, it’s buzzing with some unfortunate news. (See what Richard Lacayo at Time magazine had to say about it today.) I’m glad that the Times is entering the fray. It’s nice to have experienced voices online. But it would also be nice if it were done under an identity that didn’t so closely resemble my own.
This may not mean a lot to you, but it does to me. I look forward to your response.