New platform. Newer Donald.
Welcome to The Munro Review, where I cover arts, culture and other interesting stuff in the central San Joaquin Valley. I spent the last 16 years covering local arts and culture for The Fresno Bee. Now I’m ready to take my passion for the arts to the next level.
Based on questions you’ve been asking, here’s a quick rundown to start things off:
Q: What do you plan to cover on The Munro Review?
A: I’m going to offer a curated look at the local scene with a special emphasis on theater, classical music, visual art, dance, the literary arts and anything else that strikes my fancy. I believe that advance stories about upcoming events are an important part of arts coverage because they give audience members added context in terms of relating to and connecting with artistic events. I’ll be continuing to offer a critical voice through reviews, and I will cover local arts news. I’ll throw in coverage of some of my own interests, too, including travel and books, and will likely be unleashing some Fresno-centric commentary from time to time. All this is in the early stages, but I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.
Q: Will other writers be contributing?
A: Maybe! I’m starting off as a one-person show, but who knows what the future holds?
Q: What’s the timeline on this?
A: This first post kicks this new adventure off, along with a review of Fresno State’s production of “Heathers: The Musical.” I still have a lot of exploring in the months ahead in terms of technology and finances. I’ll be talking with lots of people and asking lots of questions, so don’t be surprised if I hit you up for your views.
Q: Have you thought about partnering with a non-profit arts institution or other umbrella organization? How about using Patreon.com, seeking donations or asking people to subscribe to a premium service.
A: You bet, to all four questions. That will be part of my research.
Q: Will The Fresno Bee continue to cover the local arts scene in any capacity?
A: I don’t know. The paper is in the midst of a corporate-mandated “Newsroom Reinvention” plan that emphasizes reaching large digital audiences. When I talked with management about what my new role would be under this new structure, I was told in no uncertain terms that arts coverage that attracts “small” numbers of readers online would be eliminated. (Print readership does not seem to matter these days in terms of metrics.) I was told I would not be able to offer regular coverage of local theater (advance stories or reviews) or other consistent coverage of the local arts scene. I was also told that it would be unlikely I would ever be able to even “slip in” such coverage because local arts coverage doesn’t have a high enough online readership. My commitment to arts journalism does not fit in with where The Bee is heading. A focus on the local arts with depth, breadth and substance is certainly locally and regionally “contagious,” but it will likely never be world wide “viral” — which appears to be the goal of much of the mass media. When I learned these parameters, I opted for a buyout leave. As The Bee seeks its own new direction, I have excellent former colleagues who I’m sure will do their best while juggling multiple beats and striving for large numbers of online clicks, but I don’t know what the coverage will be.
Q: What can I do to help?
A: I’ll be using social media as a way to let people know what’s going on at www.munroreview.com. A good way to keep in touch is to make sure you’ve added me on Facebook and then clicked “see first” under the dropdown “Following” menu in the header of my profile. Here are specific instructions from Facebook on how to do that. By specifically following me and clicking “see first,” you’ll get my new posts at the top of your feed each time you sign on rather than relying on those murky Facebook algorithms.) I’m also on Twitter (@DonaldMunroArts) and Snapchat (DonaldMunroArts). Instagram is in my near future.
Additionally, I’m asking for your subscription to my email newsletter. For people who don’t want to have to check their social media all the time, this will be another option to keep in touch. Or for those of you who would like a capsule of my coverage, a newsletter may be a better route for you. You can subscribe here:
If you’re an arts presenter, keep sending me those press releases and jpeg photos. I need that information to keep on top of things and keep the public informed. The only thing that has changed is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all, keep in touch. Send me an email or comment on the blog. I’m excited about our new adventure together. The central San Joaquin Valley arts deserve connection, sharing and valuing — and with you, I plan to continue amplifying our passions for the arts.