David Warner, Creative Loafing's editor, has been slow to let CL readers know that the paper is getting rid of longtime film critic Lance Goldenberg, and replacing his first-rate content with stuff from CL writers in other markets. Warner so far has left that job to political writer/columnist Wayne Garcia.
But Warner did offer some reasons for the firing in a note posted on The Feed, the blog penned by St. Pete Times media/TV critic Eric Deggans.
As expected, it's the usual song and dance, a bit of corporate speak suggesting that Warner doesn't really know or appreciate Lance's work all that well.
Warner's note to Deggans is below.
In response, a few thoughts:
1)Why do newspaper editors/publishers always try to hard-sell the idea that cutting staff and shrinking the news hole is somehow better for readers? It's not (d'oh!), and we're still not buying it.
2)J.R. Jones, the Chicago Reader film critic cited by Warner, may be "nationally known" in the eyes of some folks, but he's an unknown to most Tampa readers. The Chicago Reader critic who truly had a national reputation was Jonathan Rosenbaum, and he has retired.
3)If Warner really believes, as he says he does (and as many CL readers do) that Lance has "a strong, distinctive voice and a deep knowledge of film," then why not view Lance as an asset, rather than a liability? If he really believes this, then why not keep Lance in the stable of reviewers whose work is used in CL Tampa and distributed nationally to other papers in the CL chain?
4)If CL truly is "fiercely committed to reviewing and reporting on the local film scene and the many film festivals Creative Loafing has always covered in depth," then why would the paper eliminate its film critic, particularly one who knows the Tampa Bay area film scene as well as Lance does? How does this action support the paper's purported goal? It doesn't.
5)If Warner and CL's publishers believe that local film coverage can be replaced by the wires, then do they feel the same way about local music coverage? theater coverage? For a paper that has identified itself as a leading provider of arts/entertainment news, eliminating the film-critic position seems like precisely the wrong direction to go.
So here's Warner's note ...
Re: Film coverage at Creative Loafing
From: David Warner, Editor
The news that Lance Goldenberg will no longer be our weekly movie critic come September has been greeted with alarm in some quarters.
The alarm is understandable. Lance has been a reliably expert voice on film in Tampa Bay, one with an engaging writing style and a clear love for the medium.
However, Creative Loafing must deal with the fiscal realities that are facing everyone in the newspaper business. We have to find ways to economize while still bringing high-quality coverage to our readers.
As it happens, CL’s recent purchase of newspapers in Chicago and Washington, D.C. has expanded our access to talented writers and editors. Among them is J.R. Jones, an award-winning, nationally recognized critic who has been the chief film reviewer for the Chicago Reader for 11 years. Like Lance Goldenberg, he has a strong, distinctive voice and a deep knowledge of film. Unlike Lance, who was a freelance reviewer throughout his time with Creative Loafing, J.R. is a full-time staffer at the Reader, which means his reviews are available to other Creative Loafing papers either free of charge or at a substantial reduction in expense.
We expect that with J.R.’s reviews, plus reviews by other CL critics and writers in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, we will be able to review more rather than fewer movies than we were able to do with one freelance writer.
In addition, we remain fiercely committed to reviewing and reporting on the local film scene and the many film festivals Creative Loafing has always covered in depth. Staff knowledge and enthusiasm for film is deep, and we as a paper believe in the importance of a thriving film scene to Tampa Bay’s cultural life.
We’re sorry that the relationship with Lance is coming to an end. But we’re excited about the new and expanded possibilities that have opened up to us.