“Film critics have been getting whacked lately like they’re in the third-act montage of The Godfather,” writes Nothing But The Truth director-writer Rod Lurie, a former journalist himself, in a HuffPost-ing. “They’re going down with an unforgiving ferocity that spells danger not just to the craft of film criticism but to print journalism as a whole. Why? Because the local film critic has always been symbolic of the individuality of the American newspaper and magazine.
“The latest victim is the stylish and tough Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News. He was preceded in the gangland slayings by some other superb writers: Glenn Kenny at Premiere (who, by the way, gave me my share of metaphorical prison rapings when he wrote about my films), Carina Chocano, Kevin Thomas at the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader and…well, the list does sort of go on and on.
“Newspapers have been in a downward spiral for close to a decade now (I blame Craigslist most of all since classified ads have always been a major source of income for newspapers — but no more). In order to cut costs, management goes first to critics — a bit like how schools slash arts programs. There is something they do not take seriously about them. They find them easily replaceable or, maybe, not needed to be replaced.
“When these newspapers and magazines fire the Whipps and the Kennys and the Wilmingtons, they are hurrying their own demise by cutting out one of the very things that makes them unique: the voice that often prompts people buy the newspaper in the first place. (The same thing applies to another budget-slashing victim: the political cartoonist.)
“You know, it used to be that somebody would say, ‘I heard that such and such a newspaper loved or hated a movie.’ That’s silly, of course. The newspaper’s critic — not the paper itself — loved or hated a film. But because that critic was so identified with the publication, it served the same purpose.
“There is hope I suppose. There are several critics I still love to read. I’ll admit that some of the internet guys are pretty good. But, it’s not like it used to be, which breaks my heart.”