Twilight for TV Critics?

by on April 7, 2008 · 5 comments

Broadcasting & Cable notes that:

“The fraternity of the nation’s television critics at daily newspapers was once a thriving milieu, dominated by a great diversity of committed voices. The critics’ opinions were sought, revered — in many cases, even feared — and blurbed in network on-air promos. That reality has changed drastically of late as the ranks of critics have grown noticeably leaner. Caught in the financial turmoil roiling the newspaper industry, they have become a beleaguered lot, a growing part of the collateral damage of the digital revolution. In the past two years, more than one-dozen longtime critics at major-market dailies — including the Dallas Morning News, Seattle-Post Intelligencer, New York Newsday, New York Daily News and Houston Chronicle — have been either let go, shunted to different beats or been forced to take the ubiquitous buyout…”

This is not altogether surprising. I think there are three main culprits:

(1) Growing outlet competition and audience fragmentation: There’s just a lot more to read, watch and listen to now, so something’s got to give.

(2) Continued decline of newspaper business in general: For reason #1, newspapers are hurting and losing revenue. [see James Gattuso's recent post on this]. That has meant ongoing staff cuts, and critics (TV, music, art, or otherwise) are likely to be the first with their heads on the chopping blocks.

(3) Explosion of independent voice & critics via blogosphere: Finally, anyone can be a critic these days. That does not mean anyone can be a good critic–there are plenty of blithering idiots out there in the blogosphere when it comes to armchair media criticism–but there are many “amatuers” who do a fine job critiquing mass media programming (especially television).

So, while I am sad to seem some mainstream critics struggling, I just don’t see this newspaper beat surviving much longer.

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