Tuned In

Support Your Local TV Critic. Or Should You?

  • Share
  • Read Later

With the nation’s newspaper TV critics meeting in L.A. to cover the summer TV press tour, Variety just ran a story about how, thanks to the bleeding newspaper biz, several of them will not be meeting there anymore — nor will anyone else from their papers. As newspapers cut budgets left and right, one of their current favorite targets is the local TV critic, who can be replaced with wire-service copy.

In May, when the New York Times ran an article about the disappearance of local-newspaper book critics, it created quite a storm. The Variety article about TV critics? Not so much so far.

And I can understand that; I am aware that the job I do is not exactly the moral equivalent of taking fire in the Green Zone. But for better or worse, I do this job because I think that the way people communicate to other people–what they say, en masse through the media, and how they say it–is important. If the number of critics analyzing that dropped sharply, replaced by the same voices disseminated throughout the country, I think we’d lose something. You could get a diversity of national critical voices other ways, such as through TV blogs–and we probably will and should–but local TV critics are not exactly analogous to local book and movie critics. Namely, there’s not really such a thing as a local book or movie. But newspaper critics (ideally anyway) keep an eye on local TV stations, and local media coverage, in a way that national critics aren’t going to. Local bloggers could fill that role, but I’m not sure they will.

I was a little hesitant to bring up this article since it would seem self-serving. (Doubly so because it would call attention to the accompanying article that said that you are among the “most liked [or feared]” TV-blog readers in Hollywood.) On the one hand, I’m a TV critic, so I have a vested interest in my own job. On the other hand, I write for a magazine, so it’s easy for me to be blithe about the jobs of people at newspapers.

But on the third hand — I keep one for just such emergencies — what better people to ask about this than the readers of a TV blog? Does your local TV critic matter more to you than the Sodoku puzzle?