If you haven’t already heard, Chicago Tribune television critic Maureen Ryan has left the Trib to work for AOL Television.
Robert Feder talked to Maureen and extracted some expected information. For instance:
As much as she loved her job, Ryan admits she’d been growing increasingly frustrated at the space constraints of print. Her diminished profile in the newspaper reflected a trend that’s seen the role of TV critics reduced or eliminated entirely across the country in recent years.
Yes, print indeed allows for much less space for everything and I can attest to this being frustrating for the writer. I’ll probably never forget sending in my coverage of Sarah Palin speaking in Chicago and finding that they didn’t edit out a single word. Why? Because it only appeared online. I’ll also never forget sending in my coverage of suburban city council meetings to the Tribune and finding entire paragraphs gone. Why? Those were for print first, online only as an afterthought.
Journalists, is this not another reason to love and embrace digital? We love our words and this medium can carry so many more of them.
In fact, I don’t understand why newspapers can’t publish a tightly edited version of something in print and then allow the entire text online. Let the reader choose which version they prefer. But I digress…
The most compelling part of Feder’s post for me was this line from Ryan:
“I’d be surprised if the Tribune filled my position. That fact may be a reality of the newspaper business, but it makes me kind of sad. I think a vibrant urban newspaper needs its own set of local columnists and critics — and of course, the Tribune still has many of those, thank goodness.
Is that really true? Does each newspaper need its own critic for, say, television? Was there something uniquely Chicago about the way Ryan wrote about Lost or The Sopranos? I admit to not being familiar enough with her work to answer that question. Obviously someone like a restaurant critic must be a local so that she may comment on the dining scene as a whole, be available for new openings, etc. But a TV critic?
In general, does it make sense for newspapers to spend the money on their own TV critic, movie critic, or other such roles? Jeff Jarvis, myself and I’m sure many others don’t think so.
What do you think?