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Online NewsHour Launches Art Beat Blog

December 15, 2008 at 6:50 PM EST
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The Online NewsHour has created a blog devoted to arts news from around the world. NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown explains what kinds of information viewers can find on the blog.
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TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jeffrey Brown joins me in the studio now to describe an exciting new addition to the Online NewsHour.

So tell us all about it. What’s involved here?

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Judy, this is kind of an exciting thing we’re doing online, as opposed to what we do in pieces like that on the show. We’re creating an Art Beat on the NewsHour Online, where every night — every day we’re going to add news stories, we’re going to have feature stories, and we’re going to have a weekly interview that I’ll conduct with somebody from the world of arts.

Some of this is the kind of thing that — continuing what we’ve been doing in the past. So, for example, that piece that we just aired, as we have in the past, if people want to see more about that piece, they can go online.

That interview I did with Dan Cameron, the curator there, of course, we can only use a little bit of it in the piece, right? But there’s a lot more to it. We’re putting more of it online. If people are interested and want to know more, they can go and hear that. There’s a slid eshow with more of the art.

So some of it is what we’ve been doing, a continuation. But what’s exciting is that we get to do a lot more arts Web-only, so only on the Internet, not what appears on the program.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So give us some more examples of what kinds of things people can find.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, we’re going to be looking at a lot of different kind of art forms, as always, you know, so books and movies and art exhibitions. We put together a short tape reel that has a few examples.

These are short clips from three things. Two of them are already going to be up today, one later in the week. So let me just explain before we look at it.

One is an exhibition of the artist Sol LeWitt at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MASS MoCA, in North Adams, Mass., one of our colleagues giving an interview with the curator. We’ve put together kind of a slide show narrated by the curator and much else.

The next little snippet we’ll see is an interview I did with an Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany, who is one of the — probably, in the Arab world, he is the leading best-seller among novelists and getting quite a bit of attention here.

And the third thing is a clip from the Soweto Gospel Choir, which we’ll have later in the week on our site. We just have a little clip here of them performing, but this is a group that just won a Grammy nomination for its work and is touring the country.

So why don’t we look at that clip now?

JOCK REYNOLDS, Curator, “Sol LeWitt”: I think what’s amazing about this 40-year body of work of his, of almost 1,300 works, is just how much innovation and play and sheer variety of beauty one could get from combining line, color.

And then the other thing he worked into his concepts was the notion of geometric forms and then ultimately isometric forms, representing geometric forms sort of volumetrically, but always flat on the wall.

ALAA AL ASWANY, Egyptian Novelist: We had before 9/11 this kind of misunderstanding between cultures and different people and the stereotypes, et cetera. But now it is pushed on the surface. And I believe that literature has been all the time a wonderful tool to get rid of the stereotypes.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so those are a few examples. Later in the week, there will be other things, including a conversation I just taped today with Cleve Jones, who’s one of the people behind the new movie “Milk.” We’re going to — about Harvey Milk, the gay activist.

We’re going to start slowly. We’ll see what we can do. We might experiment with some things even like a book club, where we invite viewers to join us, read a book, send in their questions, and I’ll host an interview with the author.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very cool. Now, I think I know the answer to this, Jeff, but why did you do this?

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, two important things come out of this. One, it continues our commitment to the arts. I hope viewers know how much we care about that here.

It’s a long tradition at the NewsHour, something I’m extremely proud to be part of. We really care about trying to get it on as part of a news program. Of course, there are limits every night to how much we can do. This is a new way of doing it.

The second is it shows our commitment to online. The Online NewsHour is growing leaps and bounds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It is.

JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not just about the arts. So I hope people know, but I’ll remind them, that you can go there every night. You can see all kinds of things. We have something called “World View” about international coverage.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And the address is?

JEFFREY BROWN: The address is PBS.org/NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very cool stuff. Jeff Brown, thank you very much.

JEFFREY BROWN: Thanks, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: OK.