Death of the TV critic

Variety sums up the sorry state of the TV critic – and makes me damned glad I’m not one anymore. Gail Shister, who lost both her column and then her TV at the Philadelphia Inquirer, went so far as to hyperbolate: “If there’s one beat that’s sacrosanct, it should be TV.” Forget City Hall. It’s Regis updates we need!

TV as we knew it is exploding and so should the critics who cover it. There is no way — no way — that one critic can perform a one-size-fits-all service anymore. TV critics, like other critics, should become moderators and catalysts of discussion and criticism in the audience. They should be discoverers of hidden gems in the vast and overwhelming world of online video. Like TV itself, they must change or die. And many are just dying. The best example of a next-generation TV critic I know of remains Virgina Heffernan, who has used both her blog and her page to cover internet video with creativity and determination.

  • http://www.thefutureofnews.com Steve Boriss

    Yes, and we will particularly be watching the death of the local critic. There is no reason to have people in each metro area covering the same mass audience TV/movie productions when we could have a handful of the most talented do it for the whole country. This will be an example of a “productivity gain” our economy will get from the Internet (Steve Boriss, The Future of News)

  • http://strumpette.com Amanda Chapel

    Once a TV critic… always a TV critic.

  • http://bloggerreps.com Marjorie

    Sadly, this is a growing trend as print publications are seeing their budgets and circulations slashed. It’s all the buzz this week at the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour. Unless they get their blog on soon, the majority of TCA members will be attending the winter tour next year without health insurance.

  • http://johnstodderinexile.wordpress.com John Stodder

    Jeff, your use of the Shister quote is more than a little unfair. You make her seem rather grandiose about her beat, but that’s not accurate. I clicked over to the link and here’s the full context:

    “Shister says she’s equally perplexed by the trend.

    “‘We’re seeing it in all the popular arts, (with) papers cutting back on movie and rock music critics,’ she says. ‘It’s mind-boggling. In my experience, readers have a virtually insatiable appetite for any news about television. If there’s one beat that’s sacrosanct, it should be TV.'”

    You make it seem as if she thinks there’s nothing more important than writing reviews of TV shows. That’s not what she’s saying, as the quote above makes clear. She’s saying the audience for “news about television” has an “insatiable appetite.”

    Obviously, you’re enjoying a little too much schadenfreude about her fate, but if you thought a second or two longer about her comment, she’s saying her newspaper is choosing to drop a popular feature, despite evident reader interest. Shister questions this strategy. Haven’t you also questioned this strategy elsewhere on this blog?

    I don’t recall you demanding that newspapers try to survive by giving their readers broccoli only. Quite the reverse.

  • http://www.rabbitbites.com Nicholas Quixote

    Virginia Heffernan is seems to be one of the very few people covering online video who seems to have much depth to draw from.