Q: What do the Dallas Morning News, the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, the Rocky Mountain News, the Tampa Tribune and now the
Fort Lauderdale South Florida Sun-Sentinel have in common?
A: They are all daily newspapers that, over the last few months, have decided they can do without a full-time movie critic on staff.
This troubles me greatly for two reasons: One is purely selfish, self-preservational and obvious.
The other, though, has nothing to do with my personal job security. The fact that film writing is increasingly being deemed expendable by newspaper owners at a time when newspapers are scrambling to reinvent themselves and remain relevant in the Internet age should
alarm infuriate anyone who cares about film and film culture.
To say that critics (not just of movies, but of TV, dance, music, etc.) are not worth saving devalues the importance of the role of the arts in our everyday lives and the public's interest in them. And that, in turn, feeds the de-evolution of the general discourse on popular art.
In other words, if I want to read a discussion of, say, last night's harrowing episode of The Sopranos, I want to read this, not this. You have to believe that a sophisticated culture would not only agree with that, but also deem it something worthy of financial investment.
Here's a great essay by Time magazine's Richard Schickel on why critics still matter.