Not Cool Enough for the Obies

After having covered the Obie Awards for the past three years, offoffonline has been denied a press pass to the 2010 event, to be held this Monday, May 17, at Webster Hall.

“The management of the Voice has chosen to deemphasize online coverage of this year’s awards,” explains press representative Gail Parenteau, “due to the large number of blogs that are currently discussing New York theater. If you really want to cover the event, you can buy a $25 ticket.”

This intriguing change of position raises a number of questions.

Is it possible that Village Voice Media, having already antagonized numerous members of its own news staff upon assuming management of the paper in January 2006, is now seeking to alienate journalists affiliated with other alternative publications?

An alternate explanation is that the Voice truly does feel threatened by the expansion of online arts coverage, and, rather than fortifying its own contributions, is seeking to weaken perceived competition.

It is no secret that the print media has been hard hit by the recession. On one hand, it’s hard to blame the Voice for attempting to raise obviously needed funds by selling the privilege of writing about its flagship annual event. On the other, it’s still incredibly tacky.

After a second conversation with Ms. Parenteau, I have come to understand that her initial intentions were not to snub offoffonline or online media outlets as specifically as my article suggests. In fact, due to the scarcity of press passes for this year’s event, the suggestion to purchase tickets was made to other publications as well.

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