The Cleveland Museum of Art, a magnificent organization, has recently had a troubled time with three directors and four interim heads in the last fifteen years, a high rate of turnover for museums. Yesterday it announced a new director William Griswold but in a long article that had a lot of positive things about him, Plain Dealer reporter Arts reporter Steven Litt inserted this odd and unexplained passage.
Under an accord with the Cleveland museum and the Morgan, The Plain Dealer agreed Thursday not to publish news about Griswold’s impending appointment until 10 a.m. Tuesday — after the Cleveland board of trustees voted to accept the search committee’s recommendation.
The museums said that The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal agreed to the same conditions.
So the papers had the news but sat on it for nearly a week? Why should a news organization agree to such an arrangement? It is not as if there was any investigation going on that warranted secrecy. This is the danger when newspapers don’t face any real competition.
The PD has long been accused of being too cozy with the local elites. Their publisher (Terrance C. Z. Egger) also sits on the board of the museum and was accused of being the reason the paper sat on the story about the last director who resigned after it was revealed that he had been having an affair with a staffer who died under mysterious circumstances and were scooped by the local alternative weekly newspaper Scene. That newspaper also reported on the new director William Griswold and added this last sentence: “The 53-year-old Griswold, for what it’s worth, lives with his partner of 23 years, Christopher Malstead.”
Cleveland elites are a pretty traditional bunch. The fact that they hired an openly gay person to head one of its most esteemed civic gems tells us how far we have come, even if the state of Ohio still bars same-sex marriage.