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Media Watch: Online Journalism Is Heading Straight to Hell

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 7, 2010 at 7:49AM

Some online journalists make calls, check facts, report, and look at movies before we review them. Are we dinosaurs?
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Thompson on Hollywood

Some online journalists make calls, check facts, report, and look at movies before we review them. Are we dinosaurs?

Today, the world of movie journalism is imploding under the onslaught of hot topics, on-demand volume, content farms, and the pursuit of enormous traffic, often via aggregation, non-credited theft, scandal and celebrity-mongering. Media watchdog Dylan Stableford catalogues the horrors confronting journalism these days.

While TOH won't thrive if we don't pay attention to what readers are interested in, I try to balance entertaining posts with serious, useful original content: analysis and new information dug up the old-fashioned way, by talking to people.

Check out these disturbing trends:

Thompson on Hollywood

One critic consistently generates attention and traffic by contrarily zigging when everyone else zags. Slant dissects New York critic Armond White's Toy Story 3 pan, and finds it lacking. At least White watches the movie and writes his own reviews, which is saying something these days.

You can't take anything for granted. W. B. Goss tracked down a man who for five years posted reviews on his website--all plagiarized.

One film editor on deadline posted a review of Inception without having seen the film. She gave it three out of four "hearts." When called on this, she didn't seem to think she had done anything wrong. Shane Danielson writes:


Ms. Troester, it should be noted, is hardly alone. People do this every day. I mentioned this incident to two friends, one in London and one in Sydney, before I started writing this piece, and each could name one or two of their peers who function in exactly the same way. But I think about friends of mine who’ve lost their jobs in the past twelve months - good critics, smarter about film and more diligent in their professional responsibilities than Ms. Troester and her ilk will ever be - and think how galling it is to see their ranks diminished, replaced by people for whom the work is cheap and meaningless and without honour or self-respect. People no better, in essence, than those shit-eating, merch-grabbing junket whores who’ll happily stump up a positive quote for anything, provided it comes with a night in a hotel room and free sandwiches in the hospitality suite.

This article is related to: Stuck In Love, Reviews, Media, Bloggers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.