The term may seem vaguely pretentious and self-serving, but there's an element of being a "gatekeeper" when you're overseeing arts coverage for a publication. If that weren't the case, I wouldn't receive a hundred emails a day offering interviews, free copies of books and other "suggestions" for coverage.
I take the responsibility seriously. And contrary to the suspicions of many readers, that includes preferring to devote space to pimping the awesome, rather than bashing the mediocre.
That makes for tricky communication with would-be writers, visual artists and others who eagerly seek coverage. I can state with confidence that when books by local authors cross my desk, I will read at the least the first few pages of single damned one of them. That's the least I can do in an attempt to find the best and direct our readers to it. But life -- and time -- is too short to spend on stuff that clearly isn't cutting it for me at that point. I'm not going to devote hours to a terrible novel that I have no desire to eviscerate in print.
So to all local writers, please consider this both my invitation, and my warning: If you send me your work, I'll give it a shot. But if after the third, fourth and fifth email/phone message, you still aren't getting a response as to my intent to publish a review, there's a reason. I'm breaking it to you gently.