Exactly one year ago, Rotten Tomatoes announced they would be adding new critics that would be part of their Tomatometer rating system, focusing on the inclusion of more diverse voices in criticism. Today the entertainment rating aggregation website announced they’ve added over 600 critics in the past year, adding more women, critics of color, and content creators from outside of the traditional channels of entertainment criticism.
Rotten Tomatoes made the announcement today, citing that 55% of the new critics added over the past year were women, 60% were freelancers, and 10% were critics who publish reviews through YouTube and podcasts. And while specific numbers weren’t given for their expansion of ethnic diversity, the site did say they’re “making meaningful progress” in that arena.
Here’s what Paul Yanover, president of Rotten Tomatoes parent company Fandango had to say about the progress:
“Rotten Tomatoes is connecting audiences with authentic, trusted information from professional critics and fellow fans, to help them discover entertainment and decide what to watch in theaters and at home. Significant advancements are happening across Rotten Tomatoes, from the team’s work to increase critic diversity in the Tomatometer to expanding consumer confidence with the new Verified Audience Score. We are especially proud to commit to another $100,000 grant in 2020 to support film festivals and industry initiatives that further inclusion in entertainment criticism.”
This comes after Rotten Tomatoes established a $100,000 grant program in 2018 to assist with travel and lodging expenses associated with festival attendance. That resulted in more than 160 journalists attending film festivals by donating grant money to the 2018 and 2019 Toronto International Film Festivals’ Media Inclusion Initiative, as well as the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 SXSW Film Festival and Conference.
Jenny Jediny senior manager for Rotten Tomatoes critic relations added:
“We are encouraged by the progress we’re making towards creating a Tomatometer-approved critics pool that reflects the global entertainment audience and we will continue to build on our momentum. We invite our industry colleagues to join us in our effort to create more opportunities for journalists, especially those from underrepresented groups. Our new critics have shared with us the obstacles they still face, such as gaining access to press screenings and film festivals and securing writing assignments.”
You might not know this, but being a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic really helps amplify voices that might otherwise get overshadowed by the majority. The site says 73% of new critics have seen an increase in their site traffic, views and social media followers. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Travel costs for film festivals are still a hurdle, proving legitimacy to publications is another major problem, and simply securing invites to regular press screenings can still be a challenge, and Rotten Tomatoes wants to keep helping those who still need help getting established.
Hopefully this helps the pool of criticism from being dominated by the same kinds of voices and allows more niche movies to be championed and seen by a wider audience. You can see some of the new voices that have been added to Rotten Tomatoes over at the critics home page.
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