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Rotten Tomatoes announces a major change in order to boost critic diversity

More and more, it seems that some people rely far too much on Rotten Tomatoes when it comes to deciding whether or not a movie is worth their time, but the site has come under fire in recent years from filmmakers who claim that it's a "destructive force" as well as others who are calling for more diversity from the predominantly male pool of critics. In regards to the latter, Rotten Tomatoes has made a major update which will find hundreds of new voices added to the Tomatometer. As of today, more than 200 new critics have been approved, with Rotten Tomatoes planning on adding hundreds more as the year progresses.

In their article explaining the new changes, Rotten Tomatoes explained that the media landscape was in a much different place when they began 20 years ago. "Weekend newspapers were fat with ads, the iPhone was but a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, YouTube was six years away from disrupting basically everything, Netflix was snail-mailing DVDs to early adopters, and Siskel and Ebert were still on the air every week wagging their kingmaking thumbs," reads the statement. "Rotten Tomatoes was conceived in that era, and our first set of criteria for the critics whose reviews we would count towards the Tomatometer reflected it. There was an emphasis on major publications and market-leading broadcasters, on staff positions and broad audience reach." Times change, and as the years have rolled on, those full-time working critics which were the backbone of Rotten Tomatoes in the past have largely been replaced by a new breed of critic.

At the same time, new kinds of critics emerged, innovative thinkers and commentators who have seized on new platforms, developed their own sites and publications, or forged strong freelance careers, to have their voices heard. Many of these voices went unheard when traditional media was at its dominant prime, and too many still go unheard today. In revamping our Critics Criteria, we sought to bring the criteria into better alignment with the way media works today, to promote the inclusion of more voices that reflect the varied groups of people who consume entertainment, and to maintain the high standards we’ve always set for inclusion in the group of Tomatometer-approved critics.

The revamping of Rotten Tomatoes' critics criteria will allows vloggers and podcasters to have their voices heard as well, and you can find a list of the eligibility requirements to become a Rotten Tomato-approved critic right here. They're also establishing a $100,000 grant program which will help critics attend film festivals, and $25,000 of that will be going to the American Friends of TIFF fund in order to help send critics to the Toronto International Film Festival. "It’s more critics, it’s a more diverse set of voices, and a broader set of platforms not relying so much on written word review," said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes' critics relations manager, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Opening up their platform to a larger, more diverse set of voices certainly seems to be a good thing, especially when it helps to give talented writers a boost, and it will be interesting to see how Rotten Tomatoes changes in the coming years.

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