Christopher Page killed himself three weeks after losing his job as a theater critic and editor at the at the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix. He was 29. Sasha Anawalt, Director of Arts Journalism Programs at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, uses the occasion to call for more concern for journalists being tossed out of their life's work. She also says that Alan Rich, whose classical music column was terminated by LA Weekly, just found out at age 83 that he won't be getting any severance.
Who knows why people kill themselves. There is a readiness here to connect his fatal action with having been laid off. But we can't invent a reality like that. Yet, Chris's death is an additional heavy burden on our arts journalism souls. The worry mounts, and it's tempting to make him emblematic....
I see in this time the opportunity to redefine and shape journalism for the better for the arts and culture. Can I guarantee a salary and health benefits and a job as we know jobs to have been? No. But I honestly believe that we can do better than we have done.
One by one by one. And a place to begin is to call for humane action when writers who have given their lives, literally or figuratively, must be let go. Supply a net, counseling, severance, comfort, whatever it takes, but we must not accept the lack of respect.
Speak out. Ask publishers and editors-in-chief to lower the blade, if they must, with awareness that for some critics their work is their lives.
Alan Rich out as Weekly critic