The Art Behind the News

March 24th, 2008

Thirteen blogger: Hugh Siegel, Communications

Some people think the news just happens. We press operatives know better.

Without us, events would get reported, sure. But would news get made?

Look at the piece PBS Renews Arts Support in Broadcasting and Cable today. “In its battle for federal funding,” B&C’s Marisa Guthrie writes, “PBS has clung to its educational mission and stressed a renewed commitment to arts coverage, which gets increasingly short shrift not only on television but in the pages of newspapers.”

Sound familiar? That’s a little tune we’ve been humming like a parakeet with OCD. We applaud our friends at B&C for joining in the sing-along.

What’s worth noting is that this article is actually a reiteration of the story WNET New York to Launch SundayArts, which B&C ran on Friday, ahead of the launch of Thirteen’s new arts and culture showcase, SundayArts. The subhead of Friday’s article became the headline of today’s. You journalism students out there might call this digging up the buried lead. For the real story here is not that Thirteen debuted an exciting new series this past weekend – it’s that New York’s flagship public television station is working hard to keep the arts alive in America.

Publicity – like art – is all about process, of course. So we can’t help but feel a flush of creative pride in reading The Christian Science Monitor’s review of Peter and the Wolf. “The value added by viewing this film in the Great Performances umbrella series of PBS (March 26, 8 p.m.) is getting to observe the effort the behind the creative process during an additional half hour of interviews with the filmmakers. We learn just how painstaking the work really was: An entire day’s work of moving puppets in front of a camera added up to no more than a second-and-a-half of final screen time. The assembled team worked on the film for more than five years. Once the viewer understands just how hard this format is to create, it seems a worthy fit for the serious and elegant classical music it brings to life.” As for the conclusion – “This is no simple cartoon short. It is as much a work of art as the music itself.” – we couldn’t have written it better ourselves (though we certainly might have tried).

For some people, it’s true, the greatest of all arts takes place not on the concert stage, but in a diamond of dirt and sod. The wonder of your publicity team is that we are as at home in our box seats as we are sliding into third. So when the press writes about an MLB star’s appearance on Cyberchase, we credit our signals to the mound. “Ever wonder what pitch John Maine decides to throw first? Why does it seem sometimes a fielder never has to move for a ball? What criteria does David Wright use to evaluate how well he’s hitting?,” asks Gannet New Service’s John Delcos. “Maine will attempt to answer those questions and explain the pluses and minuses behind the statistics on the math mystery cartoon, Cyberchase, on PBS Kids Go, April 7, the day prior to the final Opening Day at Shea Stadium.”

May all our pitches be so artfully caught.

-H.S.