Rotten Tomatoes said it has added 600 independently verified critics over the past year as part of an ongoing push to support under-represented voices in film and TV criticism.
Of the new critics, 55% are women, 60% are freelancers and 10% publish reviews via YouTube, podcasts and other emerging avenues. The news comes a year after the digital brand said it was revamping its criteria for its “Tomatometer” gauge of sentiment in order to foster inclusion.
The inclusiveness objective has many facets: gender, race, ethnicity as well as the platforms where critics’ work appears, given the shift from newspapers and magazines to digital platforms. A broader conversation has been unfolding across show business about establishment arenas such as criticism. In addition to critics, the composition of festival juries, awards voting blocs and other power positions has been questioned given the changes to modern society’s makeup.
Along with adding verified critics, Rotten Tomatoes also said it was renewing its annual $100,000 grant pledge to provide resources to reviewers at film festivals.
“We are an aggregation platform, so we don’t have any control over who gets an assignment, who gets a byline,” Yanover told Deadline. “But we are trying to make sure our platform is as inclusive as possible.”
New critics are spotlighted on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer Critics home page, giving users of the site the chance to discover new voices in criticism from a variety of backgrounds.
In a survey of the 600 newbies about their experiences, a strong majority indicated that gaining approved status on Rotten Tomatoes helped their traffic numbers, social media metrics and industry access. But many identified a number of barriers that still exist, with 61% citing travel costs to festivals and 59% noting they still face a fight to prove their legitimacy as journalists. About 43% said they are unable to gain access to press preview screeenings.
“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,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes Senior Manager, Critic Relations.