The fine art of covering 007

Did the Monitor play into the hands of a major movie studio Nov. 12 when we featured a cover story on the 37 years of James Bond films, the latest of which, "The World Is Not Enough," was the No. 1 picture at the box office last week?

At least one reader thought so. "So [the Bond character] is popular," he wrote in an e-mail. "The book page doesn't review every potboiler either." But another reader called the piece "superb."

Two weeks ago we asked readers for their comments on the Arts & Leisure section. The variety of responses was enlightening. Some of you attend movies every week and love learning about nearly everything coming out. Others would have us spotlight the infrequent gold and ignore the usual dross. A few would even eliminate coverage of "popular culture" (TV and movies) and make room for more coverage of the fine arts.

Our modest survey came just as Columbia University released a study last week of 15 newspaper arts pages around the US (the Monitor wasn't part of the study). "Reporting the Arts" found each of these medium-to-large-circulation papers performs a "juggling act" - trying to provide coverage of both popular and "high" culture.

The 125-page study didn't suggest that there is a right or wrong path. Each paper must define itself and win its own audience.

We see Monitor readers as less interested in following the arts-by-category (high or low, fine or popular) than in knowing what's happening (good or bad) in the arts and why - what's of value (even inspiring) and what's not.

Keep talking to us. We promise to keep listening.

* Send your comments on Arts & Leisure to

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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