Is Boston Phoenix Music Critic's Deal with Orchestra Unethical?

july 24, 2008  08:52 am
Phoenix classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz has signed a contract with the Boston Symphony Orchestra to have some of his poems set to music, which he will be paid for. The Globe's Geoff Edgers thinks this crosses an ethical line, since Schwartz covers the orchestra. But Phoenix executive editor Peter Kadzis disagrees, telling the Globe that Schwartz, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994, "works in the now waning tradition of artist/critic, not unlike Virgil Thomson. That the Tanglewood fellows would choose to set his poetry to music is a mark of distinction, not a compromise." The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins tells the Globe that, while the arrangement isn't that egregious, "it presents, if not a conflict, the appearance of conflict of interest. You can avoid this conflict by, at minimum, paying your own way or having the paper pay your way."