So I was a little confused by the arts coverage in The Washington Post this Sunday. It was the second weekend of the paper’s new arts regime, in which highbrow pieces are collected in a broadsheet Arts section while pop-cultural ones are placed in a tabloid Style section.
Basically, I thought it was weird that this profile of ’80s R&B singer El DeBarge went in Style…
…while this article on bluegrass musician Mike Auldridge went in Arts.
According to the press release announcing the new arrangement, “Sunday Style will be a new tabloid-size section focused on popular culture, featuring coverage of movie, television and music by Hank Stuever, Ann Hornaday and other award-winning Post journalists.” Meanwhile, “The expanded Arts section will showcase The Post‘s world-class coverage of theater, opera, art, dance, classical music, architecture and museums…” The print version of this page, in which WaPo Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli explains the change, specifically refers to Arts as a home for classical music and Style as a home for pop music.
I’m generally loathe to make distinctions between high and low art, but what the hell: These both strike me as pop stories. My case for Auldridge: I don’t think bluegrass fans are especially buttoned-up. The article describes Auldridge—-a longtime member of the local ensemble The Seldom Scene—-as an influence on artists like Alison Krauss, who have brought bluegrass to wide acclaim.
Plus, I don’t consider bluegrass to be any mustier, at this point, than ’80s R&B. DeBarge even has an upcoming date at an august local concert hall, the Meyerhoff in Baltimore.
So what kinds of music stories can you expect to read where? Is jazz going to be grouped with classical or pop? In case you were wondering, here’s something of an explanation from the Post‘s pop-music editor, Joe Heim, who writes in an e-mail: “There will occasionally be decisions to accommodate stories that don’t clearly fit in one section or the other.”