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NYT Critics Want to Interact--from a Safe Distance

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 18, 2011 at 9:22AM

It's all very well for newspapers to try and interact with their readers online. What strikes me about the NYTimes' effort to engage movie fans with film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis is how they are choosing to respond to their readers.
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Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

It's all very well for newspapers to try and interact with their readers online. What strikes me about the NYTimes' effort to engage movie fans with film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis is how they are choosing to respond to their readers.

In other words, the NYT does not encourage unmediated comments on its critics' review pages, and they rarely respond to those comments that do get through (mostly positive). Instead via the Times' awards blog, The Carpetbagger, the NYT now invites readers to send questions to the critics, which they will then answer once a month as they see fit.

This allows the critics to stay at a remove from their readers, to stay in control. To pontificate from their high ivory tower of authority. It ignores the new order of the day, which brings critics onto a more equal footing with their readers. By contrast, this week LAT critic Kenneth Turan is also accepting Oscar questions from readers online: live. UPDATE: And Roger Ebert is the new model critic who communicates with his readers constantly, in multiple media: "And I read, vet and post all the comments on my blog and often respond," he reminds in an email.

This article is related to: Web/Tech, Reviews, Digital Future, Media


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.