We have since learned that The Freep, which is owned by Gannett, will NOT be replacing Terry Lawson, making it the most highly circulated newspaper in the country (daily readership = 320K) without a full-time, in-house film critic.
And, um, so what? What law says that every paper has to have a film critic? Are movies any different in Detroit than they are in Cleveland, Kansas City, Miami or Altoona? Nope. Same movies. There's nothing local about movie criticism—or TV criticism, or book reviewing, or any number of things that newspapers persist in doing long past the time when they make any sense. (Can somebody explain to me why every newspaper seems to have a couple of reporters in Arizona for the Super Bowl this week? What a colossal waste of money.)
These are tough times for newspapers, yada yada yada, but they're made even tougher when newsroom managements won't make the easy, obvious cost cuts, much less the tough ones. A movie critic in every city? Why? There's virtually nothing unique about it. There are tons of reviews all over the Internet of movies (and books and TV shows and music). Most movie-going readers prefer the opinions of their friends, anyway.
It's very simple: With resources tight, editors should spend money on something readers can't get anywhere else. Restaurants, architecture, live music—these are all unique local arts that deserve dedicated local critics. Movies? Not so much. In fact, in most cases, not at all.
The Defamer story has the perfect punchline about the demise of the Freep's critic: "from what we've gathered, readers don't seem to mind much."