How perilous have things become for journalists paid handsomely to review movies?
Put it this way. The ongoing dismissal of full-time film critics, to which the name of Movieline’s Stephanie Zacharek can be officially added July 13, grew into such a somber death march that Movie City News’ David Poland stopped formally tracking the print side of the trend a year and a half ago. “It was so depressing,” he tells FishbowlLA, “but my guess is that we’re down to around 80 full-time print film critics in the U.S.”
Indiewire’s Matt Singer first broke the news of Zacharek’s tweeted dismissal, eliciting comments of condolence from such notables as Roger Ebert and David Edelstein. Poland says people typically skip over a critical big picture element when discussing the dumping of marquee critics. Namely, that daily newspapers never took them that seriously in the first place.
“I think the most overlooked element in all these conversations is how abusive print was to criticism,” Poland says. “That the attitude about film criticism from traditional media – for decades – was that they could move someone from the city or obits desk, anywhere, and make them a film critic.”