It’s all very well for newspapers to try and interact with their readers online. What strikes me about the NYTimes’ effort to engage movie fans with film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis is how they are choosing to respond to their readers.
In other words, the NYT does not encourage unmediated comments on its critics’ review pages, and they rarely respond to those comments that do get through (mostly positive). Instead via the Times’ awards blog, The Carpetbagger, the NYT now invites readers to send questions to the critics, which they will then answer once a month as they see fit.
This allows the critics to stay at a remove from their readers, to stay in control. To pontificate from their high ivory tower of authority. It ignores the new order of the day, which brings critics onto a more equal footing with their readers. By contrast, this week LAT critic Kenneth Turan is also accepting Oscar questions from readers online: live. UPDATE: And Roger Ebert is the new model critic who communicates with his readers constantly, in multiple media: “And I read, vet and post all the comments on my blog and often respond,” he reminds in an email.