Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another critic leaves

I haven't talked a lot about the departure of film critics from their jobs at major print publications, but it has reached epidemic proportion. The news that David Ansen is leaving Newsweek makes your head spin.

I must say that I don't always understand why the film reviewer is seen as an obvious target for these things. I suspect that editors, coming from the news side, have a bias to making sure that every beat is covered and see the role of film reviewer as a luxury compared to things like covering a planning and zoning meeting. At the same time, I'm not sure that they realize that people actually like reading the reviews. It's an appointment reason for picking up a newspaper.

I knew a couple of critics who wrote for a small local newspaper chain. They told me that at one time their outlet cut them off. After doing a reader's survey, they invited them back. It turned out that reviews were one of the better-read items in the paper.

I don't know if that justifies a full staff position. Heck, I don't even know how applicable it is to the experience of other publications. And maybe it's different and there are other variables at play for larger papers and magazines. But I wonder how many outlets consider this when making buyout decisions.

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