Donald Munro Celebrates One-Year Anniversary Launch of “Munro Review”
Longtime Fresno Bee arts reporter Donald Munro (Journalism, ‘86) left the paper after 26 years, taking a buyout from the Fresno Bee in May 2017 to launch The Munro Review, a theater blog featuring previews, reviews, briefs, picks and long-form arts coverage of the San Joaquin Valley.
By Megan Schellong
“I've always felt it's important to write about so-called niche interests and genres because they are part of what make a rich arts community,” Munro said.
Munro’s plan is to incorporate a public radio-style business model for his blog, based on a voluntary monthly subscription membership and additional sponsorships from local businesses and organizations. He already has one non-profit sponsor: Community Media Access Collaborative.
In addition to his blog, Munro is also teaching copy editing to students at Fresno State. A former editor-in-chief of Cal Poly’s Mustang Daily, Munro started out at the Anchorage Times in Alaska then moved to the Fresno Bee as a copy editor in the 1990s. Then in 1995, he became a features reporter and started filling in as a backup theater critic. In 1997, Munro became the full-time movie critic and five years later was accepted for a 10-month fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, where he earned his master’s degree. After the fellowship, Munro became the arts reporter and columnist for the Fresno Bee, which is owned by McClatchy.
Munro said the best part about being self-employed is the flexibility to write for a narrower audience.
“An example is chamber music,” Munro said. “You're never going to get high readership for coverage of a chamber music concert. But that doesn't make the subject any less important.”
“Nearing the end of my career with McClatchy, it became apparent that writing about small but important things in the community just wasn't going to be possible,” Munro said. “I would have been expected to do pieces that appeal to a regional or national audience in the never-ending chase for clicks.”
While Munro enjoys the freedom and flexibility of writing for a more narrowly tailored audience, he misses the support system of editors and photographers the Bee provided.
“Now I pretty much have to do it all myself!”