About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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January 30, 2008


Mike Orren

Here's some nice irony:

While I wouldn't have hired a movie critic for Pegasus News, one of our staffers is a movie nut and former part-time movie critic. And so we let him style himself as "the film guy" so long as he did his other stuff too. Results:

1. We found out there was a lot in local film that no one else was covering.

BUT most importantly:

2. His reviews of nationally released films do so well in Google / Google news that they are our #2 source of traffic and new users. #1 is all other search (but film dwarfs all other categories). Yes, there's a fair amount of hit-and-run out of market traffic, but there's also enough that sticks to make it well worth it. Doubly so if/when we close a deal with a local theater chain to sponsor his coverage of area film fests.

The takeaway? Maybe it isn't about dropping movie critics, but rethinking what they do and what they cover.

David Feld

Hi Mark - You've said what I've been thinking for some time. I agree on every point except book reviewing. The publishing market is more diverse than movies or TV, with regional publishers and many books targeting a geographical demographic. These publishers/books/authors have little chance of meaningful national exposure. In that sense, I'd say the book reviewer is closer to the music reviewer, who can stay relevant by focusing more on local scenes.

But I'm right with you regarding movie reviews. I'd rather see the effort put toward fostering online communities where a wider range of voices can be heard.

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