Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still No Such Thing As Too Many Critics

In a previous post, I expressed my desire to become a professional film critic; a desire I've had since childhood. Since then, some progress towards that goal has been made - more reviews, more article contributions, more tweets and more contact with different people and places.

But, I could still be doing more.

Later this week, I have a job interview. Nothing guaranteed, but I might be doing some light filing and data entry pretty soon. Part time. My mother seemed a bit concerned by the news; "I don't want you to stop your writing". Of course I won't stop, but I do need some income (that's everybody's story). I know I can make this into a career. There has to be an opportunity out there somewhere. Maybe at

I was gonna hold off on writing this entry for a few more weeks, but I chose now to coincide with some interesting developments.

Recently, - the Times Picayune's website - underwent a redesign. Colors were changed, sections were reorganized and some dead spots were consolidated. I assume (and hope) it's not the final version, as it could use some more local personality and be more user friendly. Despite the site issues (there are good online examples to follow), the change up shows a positive interest in internet distribution. And, even more recently (like a few hours ago), a rumor hit twitter that a big shakeup at the paper was being planned. Could all of this mean an opening for staff bloggers?

Perhaps. The big shakeup hasn't been officially announced, but it's believed that it will involve more reliance on the website to provide content, and less on printed papers - which would lead to days without a paper being printed.

More and more, people are getting their news off the internet. Sure, some still buy papers on Friday and Sunday, but, in the case of my mom at least, it's mostly for the coupons and ads. Whatever articles get printed in the paper now appear on a site as well. And, now with social networking, anybody connected can be informed of a new article as soon as it's posted, as opposed to waiting the next day for it to be delivered.

As someone who blogs about movies - usually involving the New Orleans area - and gets his news online, I find this concentration on website content very exciting. To be able to reach more people AND connect with them is all any blogger wants.

Losing a couple of daily papers is a bit rash, especially considering that portions of the area lack proper internet access; how will people get the news if there's fewer prints and not enough broadband? Maybe the answer - for now - lies in catering to the online readers and traditional audience separately. Creating a whole new department for a blogging team wouldn't be too difficult; local writers are already providing content for free, and would be more than happy to come on board for such a project. And we wouldn't even need a physical newsroom; a laptop and a coffee shop will suffice.

TP currently only has one critic (a fine one at that). As an area that is BOOMING with film productions - so much that it's now being called Hollywood South - we could use more pro movie writers. Nola is more than just a food and music town; it's a movie town, too. So many productions, screenings and events can spread any single critic thin. Pair that critic up with another? You've got some more coverage.  Pair that critic up with a blogger - someone who is constantly connected online (bordering on obsession) - you've got the whole area covered.

Considering the redesign, the possible shakeup and Hollywood South as it is - why not do what other papers (like LATimes) are doing? Why not put a movie blogger on the staff?

Perhaps not. Now, it's thought that some staffers may lose their jobs if the rumors are true. Longtime writers could be pushed aside in an effort to save money. If this happens, the likelihood of staff bloggers becomes slim. This seems to be what some papers across the country are doing, but it's a bit misguided if you ask me.

If anything, a paper should hire MORE staff writers, not LESS. I don't know much about the business end of things, but I do know that people are still reading - sometimes on paper and sometimes online - and they still depend on local news organizations and local writers for local information. You may think you can't afford your current staff, but you really can't afford not to have them. Adding a few more members, if only on a freelance basis, would be a benefit.

No matter what happens - if the shakeup rumors are true or not - I still think New Orleans area publications - like - should invest in more movie bloggers, and I still think I can make a career out of doing what I love to do, despite the state of the economy. In the meantime, I've got some pants and a shirt to iron; gotta look nice for the job interview.

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