"Books coverage at American daily newspapers is asphyxiating. That's the bad news," writes Washington City Paper's Mark Athitakis. "Here's more bad news: The situation is just as dire at alternative weeklies." He goes on to cite the cost-cutting that occurred when Creative Loafing purchased City Paper last year as an example. But he says there are reasons to be optimistic about alt-weeklies. "We've taken one hell of a beating, but our basic mandate -- to give people informed and lively coverage of subjects that often fall outside the larger media's radar -- remains intact," Athitakis writes. "And books are still part of that mandate." He wraps up his post by listing some tips for any critics hoping to contribute to alt-weeklies.
In a Q&A with the Tales from the Reading Room blog, Mark Athitakis discusses the future of arts journalism, the changes afoot in the alt-weekly industry, and argues that print folks must embrace the web to survive. "I think journalists need to rethink what 'publishing' is and experiment more with video, audio, blogging, and social networking tools," he says. "You have to rethink it in part because the next generation of readers embrace all of those things, and it's folly to dig in your heels, stick with print, and say you're not interested in reaching those people, or say that everybody has to process your ideas on your terms."