Water Cooler Discussion: Do You Care About the Death of the Print Critic?

Monday Morning Water Cooler Discussion

At this point, if you follow the happenings of the world of film, you have probably heard of the discussion that is raging around the “death” of the print film critic. All across the nation, critics at local newspapers have been cut from their posts, one way or another, because of the migration of readers to the web. Or at least, that is how many people see it.

This has brought the discussion to the forefront of both the online and print worlds. Our own Kevin Carr weighed in last week in his article The Death of the Print Critic. In his article, Kevin made reference to an article over on Anne Thompson’s Blog at Variety. There, our good friend Anne has been compiling links to film pundits across the web, creating a comprehensive list of opinions.

The Columbus DispatchFurthermore, there have been actual print critics who have begun chiming in on the discussion. One particularly interesting one was that of Frank Gabrenya, film critic for the Columbus Dispatch. In his Sunday editorial, Frank likened the rise of movie blogs to the reproduction of rodents and expressed his views on why real film critics are necessary. Allegedly, smaller films like The Lives of Others and The Band’s Visit could never thrive locally without a consistent voice to guide denizens of communities such as Columbus.

And while I can appreciate a good rodent procreation reference, and I appreciate Frank’s acknowledgment of our species (we in the movie blogosphere), I see this response as the whining of a man stuck in a desperate situation. Readers are migrating to the web, leaving print critics with little left to claim, so they must hold on to this aura of influence while it still exists. What they don’t seem to be willing to accept is that it is not their ability to write thoughtful opinions on film — something for which I personally have a profound respect — that is being rejected by the masses, it is their medium. Personally, I think that they would all do well to get their own blogs — just as the likes of Roger Ebert have done — and come play in our space for a little while. As a blogger, I can honestly say that we enjoy the sense of community and the diversity of the discussion created by such rapid, for lack of a better term, reproduction. There is always room for more voices, and the voices of these endangered film critics could do just as well if they would just embrace the world wide web as their readers obviously have.

But that is just my opinion. And even my opinion is one of bias, as is that of Frank Gabrenya. Mine is the opinion of someone who has something to gain in this Cold War of film journalism that seems to exist between those of us online and those who compose your local indoor dog urine receptors. What interests me, in the end, is the opinions of you, the readers, the lovers of film… What do you have to say about all this? Do you even care about the death of an entire medium? Better yet, do you even know who your local newspaper’s movie critic is? I know I do — but that is only because Frank and I sit in the same theater, at the same time for press screenings every week.

Please feel free to drop your opinions off in the comment box below.

Want some great additional reading? Check out an article from my Columbus cohort Kristin Dreyer Kramer on her site, Nights and Weekends. She has written an awesome article the likes of which this “rodent” just cannot create.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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