Columbia Journalism Review* writes up the N&R’s pay to play deal with ArtsGreensboro. Editor and publisher Jeff “Grits” Gauger tells CJR:

Part of the reason Gauger agreed is the subject matter. “Arts isn’t ideological, and doesn’t involve public policy in the same way that government and politics does,” he said. “People who run these arts organizations, or perform in them, are not holding a public trust in the same way that elected officials and bureaucrats are.” (This may be mostly true of local artists—though there’s probably “ideology” involved in at least some of their work—and funds from the program won’t be used to cover ArtsGreensboro itself. But it’s worth noting that ArtsGreensboro is a substantial institution and a hub in a local industry; the organization has a $1.8 million annual budget and puts economic development at the core of its arts advocacy.)

And the core of that advocacy is the $65 million downtown performing arts center, for which taxpayers find themselves “partners” after arts supporters convinced the City Council that we needed to be like Durham. And which in turn is why ArtsGreensboro wants to ensure space in the local paper of record.

Not sure if Gauger doesn’t see it that way or he’s just really good at putting on a straight face.

*Via Ed Cone.