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Rotten Tomatoes Launches Fresh ‘Top Critics’ Program to ‘Increase Inclusion,’ Recognize More Individuals

For over a decade, the Top Critic designation has singled out Tomatometer-approved critics who excel at and demonstrate a deep commitment to their craft. Now, it's getting an upgrade.

Interior view of the main hall of the Zoo Palast theatre in Berlin, Germany, 25 January 2014. After extensive renovation works and furnishing with the latest cinema technology, the Zoo Palast has become a venue of this year's Berlin International Film Festival again. Three galas of the Berlinale Specials are planned to be held at the traditional movie theater. Photo by: Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Interior view of the main hall of the Zoo Palast theatre in Berlin, Germany

Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Rotten Tomatoes is getting a little fresher. The entertainment website, best known for its aggregated movie reviews, has today launched a revamped Top Critics program for its Tomatometer rating system, including new criteria that will, per an official press release, “increase inclusion and recognize individual achievement in criticism.” With the new criteria in place, the site has welcomed over 170 new individually approved Top Critics, sixty percent are women, an estimated twenty-five percent are people of color, and twenty-four percent publish via video and podcast media.

Last year, the site added over 600 new critics part of its continuing dedication to amplifying underrepresented voices in film and TV. Rotten Tomatoes will, per today’s release, “continue to recognize critics contributing to Top Critic-approved publications and will be granting approval to several new outlets whose high-quality work serves underrepresented audiences.”

Established in 2008, the Top Critic designation was originally created “to distinguish Tomatometer-approved critics who excel at and demonstrate a deep commitment to their craft.” Top Critic reviews are featured prominently on Rotten Tomatoes’ individual movie and TV pages, factor in if a film or show is “Certified Fresh,” and are pooled to generate a special “Top Critics” Tomatometer score.

The new criteria “place an increased emphasis on a critic’s individual qualifications, body of work and dedication to the art and future of entertainment criticism, rather than basing the critic’s designation solely on their publication or employer’s status,” which had previously determined Top Critic status. The designation will now be determined by a selection committee that includes the Rotten Tomatoes critic relations and curation teams, as well as a recently formed advisory board of highly regarded critics and industry professionals.

“At Rotten Tomatoes, we continue our commitment to building a more inclusive critics pool that reflects and serves the global entertainment audience, and today we took another important step by modernizing our Top Critics program,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes head of critics relations, in an official statement. “Our team understands the value of the Top Critic designation and its ability to expand professional opportunities for critics. With an increased focus on individual merit and contributions to the field of criticism, our team is thrilled to award Top Critic status to an additional 170 deserving voices.”

To help ensure that the next generation of entertainment critics is more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has also established grant programs to assist critics from underrepresented groups in attending film festivals including Sundance, TIFF, SXSW, and the New York Film Festival and hosted workshops, panels, and networking events for critics to gain access to editors, studio publicity and marketing executives and festival organizers.

Rotten Tomatoes also established a multi-year Rotten Tomatoes fellowship with the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications and supports the LA Film Critics Association’s Ruth Batchelor Scholarships for female and minority students attending LA-based junior colleges​.

To read more about the Top Critics revamp, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ recent Publisher Blog entry right here, and qualifications for the Top Critic designation and names of the advisory board members can be found right here on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

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