There are two things that happen about once a week. One, someone working in the dying newspaper industry writes an article blaming the Internet and demonstrates, in the process, a lack of understanding of how the Internet works. Two, someone declares that film criticism is dead. This week, these two themes overlapped in a Chicago Tribune column by Clarence Page. The headline is "One very big thumbs down." The subhead: "Balcony closed, idiot floodgates open."

Page's jumping-off point is the cancellation of At the Movies, the respected TV program started by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert and most recently hosted by A.O. Scott and Page's Tribune colleague Michael Phillips. "Good critics are an endangered species," Page writes. "Variety, the venerable show-biz newspaper, says it will keep running reviews but laid off its best-known critics, chief film critic Todd McCarthy and chief theater critic David Rooney. Elsewhere, newspapers are cutting back or eliminating book review sections and even book reviews. Throw in Conde Nast's closing last fall of Gourmet magazine, and you see a dire trend."

What is this dire trend? Is it that not just film critics but theater and food critics are losing their jobs? No, it's even worse: The Internet is ruining everything! So says Page, in an astonishing logical leap:

"Blame the usual suspect, the Internet. Just as it has put book, record and video stores out of business, the Web also is grinding away at the very notion that critics should be respected for credentials and experience that show they actually know what they're talking about."
categories Cinematical