Restore The Sun's arts-sports balance

April 10, 2013

The Sun deserves kudos for having survived the near starvation of its print edition in recent years. But to this long-time print subscriber, the emaciated paper we get today must have determined that survival depended on shedding the staff it once devoted to theater, movies and the visual arts. At the same time, however, it has retained full roster of sports coverage.

Encouraging signs of The Sun's improving print effort can be seen in several superb recent investigative articles that stirred local officials to address community problems. Editorial cartoon fans also ought to be grateful for the partial return of KAL, one the best political cartoonists in America.

Still, the gargantuan gulf between coverage of local sports versus the arts is dispiriting. A recent Sunday edition provided a vivid illustration of the imbalance between coverage of sports and the performing arts. That day, in addition to three sports articles from Tribune Corp. and several compilations of staff reports, scores and statistics, there were 13 articles under 11 different bylines on sports subjects.

By contrast, the coverage of the arts that day was the work of a single writer, Tim Smith, who once was devoted solely to being the paper's classical music critic but now finds himself The Sun's primary if not sole critic for theater and the visual arts as well.

Although Mr. Smith's breadth of knowledge and ability to critique multiple genres is remarkable, shouldn't The Sun's print subscribers be offered the viewpoints of other experts in these fields too?

I have singled out theater coverage because I believe it is truly an area deserving of its own full-time critic. Others may similarly lament the loss of The Sun's superb former movie critics.

Though I am not privy to the details of newspaper financing, I wonder if a small percentage reduction in The Sun's sports coverage might not free up resources for wider coverage of the performing arts.

Fred Knauf, Baltimore

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