It stinks that Nathan Lee has been cast adrift from the rudderless Village Voice, atop of layoffs at Newsday and other outlets. But it has elicited the usual thoughtful commentary, this time regarding the declining state of print-based film criticism, at The House Next Door. The comments can easily be applied to other critical writing besides.
I side with the majority: The web has its uses, but the depth and breadth of coverage beyond simple reviews and gossipy palaver is lacking, online as well as in print (which, to its detriment, is aping blog style, or what is thought of as blog style--snark, yelling, one-sidedness). It's not easy to go the extra mile when your dough is made elsewhere and you're squeezing stuff in "between productions"--not to mention other life concerns. (Those who do churn it out read like they're churning it out, to make some sort of numberless quota.) And I agree wholeheartedly with the assertion that arts and entertainment types (not just critics, but the whole, lower-paid, few-benefits infrastructure buttressing our arts and culture) will suffer dearly in the recession economy. There are bright spots (like The House Next Door) but it is not a pretty picture.