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Endangered species

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.

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Juan

I hope the Herald doesnt go that route and that you remain on as a full time critic. I dont like the idea of just tossing aside critics as if they mean nothing. Doing that, gives some sort of credence to all these know it all-know nothing bloggers who infest the internet these days with nonsensical ramblings. That is NOT a good thing.

movie reviewer

AMEN!

Rich Copley

Schickel's essay is great, and you make a great point about the devolution of criticism. Frank Rich once said, "Culture, in some real sense, is the news," and movies are a major reflection of society. I daresay they are not viewed the same in Miami as they are in New York, L.A. or here in Kentucky, and you play an important role in discussing them with Miami readers.

We have to hope this trend will reverse, and instead of seeing critics as expendable, editors and publishers will see them as a valuable component in the reinvention of their publications.

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