The death of features: the wake goes on

Dateline: Thu 08 Jan 2009

Former Star features/visual arts reporter Skip Berry is clarifying his time spent at the paper in terms of hours. He also laments, as are we all, the demise of the once proud, award-winning features department. His email is worth sharing in total.

Says Berry, now a free-lance writer with lots of irons in the fire:

"Just a slight correction-- in the blog entry in which you quoted me, you mentioned that I worked at the Star a couple days of week. That was true in the beginning, but I gradually upped the number of hours I was there on a weekly basis from 15 to 20, then 25, and finally for the last 2-3 years (I lost count), I was working 30 hours a week. (I was there for a total of nearly 13 years-- Aug. 1994-April 2007.) Had I not increased my hours, I never would have been able to provide the amount of coverage to the visual arts community that I did.

"On that matter, I'm proud of what I accomplished during my years on the visual arts beat, and I'm sorry that the only stories that are getting told now are the big. breaking news pieces-- no more gallery stories, damn few profiles of the array of talented artists, curators and administrators, and little notice of interesting, significant exhibitions. As they always are, the arts-- and the visual arts in particular-- are the first to eliminated when coverage cuts are deemed necessary.

"On the other hand, having a visual arts beat writer was a luxury that we all knew the Star wouldn't sustain over the long haul, so we should all be thankful for the long run that we had. It was fun while it lasted. And Jay Harvey has my sympathy -- being the sole go-to guy for practically every cultural subject under the sun is a Sisyphian responsibility."

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