Date of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Scotton, James F.

Second Advisor

Soley, Lawrence

Third Advisor

Carter, Curtis L.

Abstract

The goal of this study is furthering understanding of the relationship between advertising ·and visual art criticism. It must be noted, first, that measuring critiques for tone (positive and negative) is not in any way a judgment. A negative review, for instance, is neither good nor bad, merely negative. If a gallery exhibits a shoddily produced show of mediocre work, a negative review may be most appropriate. Simply put, since we are comparing New York Times visual art criticism only to itself (albeit across time), we require a standard for documenting change, movements, or trends in the New York Times critiques' content. Further, the relationship between advertisers, their advertisements and advertising dollars, as well as New York Times critics and content may be more correlation than causal. That is, the various elements may be related in ways other than "cause/effect." Additionally, advertiser influence in the New York Times may be felt strongest in content other than critiques. Advertiser influence may appear most notably in, for example, a noted dearth of consumer reports on overpriced auction bids, or an abundance of favorable feature pieces on galleries, museums and auction houses that advertise in the Times. That influence may also only appear (or disappear) on the editor's desk or within administrative layers. Since individual critics cover only what is assigned them, and grant final content control measures to editors, subtle word changes and favorable tones that materialize between the writer's hand and the press' stamp may emanate from several sources. The final, and most important caveat: this examination is not finger pointing or moralistic crusading. Art Criticism, as an endeavor clearly faces a challenge: a general disinterest in the American public. Since advertiser influence has proven corrosive in media content time and again, tracking both -- money and content -- may lay forth some interesting patterns.

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