Movieline film critic Stephanie Zacharek has announced on Twitter that she’s been laid off by Movieline effective 7.13, and that her “Chief Critic” position is being eliminated. Which means what in terms of the Hollywood fortunes and online publishing strategies of Jay Penske‘s MMC, which also owns

They’re…what, trying to save money? They’re arbitrarily shaving expenses because the books are suddenly scaring them? They seem to be saying that they don’t see the value any more in having film critics as major contributors, and that’s a weird thing to say. It would have been one thing if MMC had decided that they like Movieline critic and contributor Michelle Orange, say, better than Zacharek. But by eliminating Zacharek’s chief film critic job altogether they’re saying that no critic matters that much. Which is a way of saying “to hell with having a critic at all.”

This is what struggling newspaper owners have been saying for years, of course, but MMC is supposed to be a thriving, on-top-of-it online operation. So what gives? There’s a story here. I trust someone will report it sooner or later.