22 August 2010

Terry Teachout's Essay

In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, there is a piece by Terry Teachout concerning Don Rosenberg, and his (failed) lawsuit against his employer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Rosenberg had been the classical-music critic for that paper since 1992. Fromn 2002 forward he was a consistent critic of the conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Most. He wrote things like, "mediocrity takes up residence ... when Weiser-Most is on the platform." Teachout asks, "At what point does so oft-repeated an opinion become predictable and redundant?"

Intriguing sidebar: Terrance Egger, the publisher of the Plain Dealer, sits on the board of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Rosenberg was re-assigned in 2008. His editor, Susan Goldberg, said Rpsenberg had displayed a "closed mind" on the subject and would no longer be reviewing that orchestra's concerts. In Teachout's words again, "He wasn't fired, nor was his salary cut, but he was reassigned to write about other cultural matters and his byline no longer identified him as the Plain Dealer's classical-music critic."

Painful to the ego, perhaps, but hardly the subject of a lawsuit except in an extremely litigious society. Rosenberg, of course, lives in one of those. The new reviewer of concerts turned out to be a good deal younger than Rosenberg, so he sued the Plain Dealer for age discrimination. As I noted above, he lost.

Teachout asks, of both of the parties, "what were they thinking?" His editors "came off looking like a bunch of spineless small-timers who let the Cleveland Orchestra roll them" and Rosenberg himself comes off as a monomanaic. His editor has a "near-absolute legal right to make him a police reporter should she see fit to do so. This is so obvious that I was stunned when I heard that Rosenberg was suing."

I have to say that this controversy has passed under my personal radar for the two years or so in which it seems to have been ongoing. I'm happy to have received the introduction to it. It does seem ... well ... symptomatic of our days.

1 comment:

Henry said...

Tim Smith, the classical music critic for the Baltimore Sun, has been following the Rosenberg case on his blog. If you scroll down, you'll come upon at least half a dozen postings, some with reader comments. http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.