Yes, they're disappearing before our very eyes - one by one, movie critics at major and lesser daily and weekly newspapers are vanishing. It's a real horrorshow out there.
In addition to giving loyal newspaper readers even less reason to subscribe (and advertisers less motivation to pony up dollars for a product with a shrinking customer base: how's that for smart thinking?), short-sighted publishers at the Tampa Tribune and other papers around the country are helping dismantle a once-lively film culture in the U.S.
It's a culture that has thrived in part due to the presence of multiple strong, informed voices discussing movies, in print.
Today on NPR, late-to-the-funeral reporter David Folkenflik covered this sad phenomenon. His report ends on a lighthearted note, belying the seriousness of the subject.
Sean Means, film critic for the Salt Lake Tribune (for now, at least) has pro-actively followed what's been happening, and his entertaining blog includes a post listing 28 critics who have lost their jobs over the last two years or so.
Bob Ross, by the way, continues to cover movies, with video reports on his own site -BobRossMovies.com -- and reviews on Tampa blog Sticks of Fire. And the Tampa Bay area market continues to benefit from the work of two experienced reviewers - Steve Persall at the St. Petersburg Times and Lance Goldenberg at Creative Loafing/Tampa.
(Full disclosure: I freelance for the St. Pete Times, and I was on the Tampa Trib's staff from 88 to 96)