On Twitter, film critic Stephanie Zacharek announced that she has been laid off by Movieline. July 13th will be her last day at the site; her position (“Chief Critic,” according to the masthead) is being “eliminated.” I reached out to Movieline for clarification about the future of criticism at the site — is the “Chief Critic” position eliminated? Will their other critics, Michelle Orange and Alison Willmore, see more work? Will they be hiring someone else? — and got back a “No comment.”
The immensely talented Zacharek moved to Movieline a little over two years ago, after eleven years at the venerable culture website Salon. Her layoff is especially sad because Movieline has become such a vital destination for smart film criticism in recent years. Between Zacharek, Orange, and Willmore (who, full disclosure that you all already know, is my former colleague at IFC and current colleague at our Filmspotting: Streaming Video Unit podcast), Movieline had one of the best film critic staffs in the country, and they could always be counted on for fresh, fair takes on everything from blockbusters to indies. Last week, Zacharek had me chuckling at her water main break drenched review of “Piranha 3DD.” This week, I greatly admired her thoughtful take on “Prometheus.” I guess Movieline thought her work wasn’t essential to their mission, but I know I speak for a lot of people when I say she was the number one reason I visited the site.
Zacharek’s untimely departure from Movieline reminded me of something she wrote in her final post before she left Salon.
“When I was a journalism student in the 1980s, if you had told me that by 2010 it would be nearly impossible for a smart, experienced professional to make a living wage as a journalist or editor, I’d have accepted it only if you’d told me that by that time, we’d also be zooming around in flying cars, like the Jetsons. Journalism, as a profession, is in danger of dying; I’m still waiting for that flying car.”
We’re all still waiting. But in the meantime, someone should hire Stephanie Zacharek.