Important tidbits in a growing story:
- College endowments drop like a rock.
- In earlier news, NPR decides to drop News and Notes.
- Newspapers like the Detroit Free Press go virtual, while other newspapers won’t survive 2009.
- Book publishers have slashed their budgets.
Now this may sound like a doom and gloom story. But it isn’t…necessarily. I choose these stories because they point to the growing reality that “cultural creatives” (writers, artists, musicians, intellectuals, journalists) like the institutions that sponsor them may need to rethink the way they work. With colleges and universities losing their endowments more and more graduate students will need to go outside of the academy for work. People on the tenure track will be placed in a much more tenuous position–assuming that tenure continues to exist. If the days of big advances are gone, then writers are going to have to figure out some other way to make ends meet.
And unlike the New Deal, when FDR created programs for artists…I’m not sure Obama has anything like this coming.
There are a whole set of conversations about the future of publishing, the future of the academy, the future of the music business. Black intellectuals haven’t been significant voices here.
We should be…because our futures are on the line as well, even as our future IS online. For me what I’ve had to realize over the past year is that the model with which we train graduate students, the model we pursue as assistant, associate, full professors, no longer works. And will NOT work. We need to be much more supple, much more entrepreneurial, and much more fluid in the types of questions we ask, the types of projects we undertake, the types of venues we pursue them in.
As an aside by the time you read this I should be on the road to Detroit, for a combination of pleasure (family), and business (collecting data for my next book project).