Once upon a time (say, a decade or so ago), it was enough to work for an august masthead like The Age or The Australian to ensure a certain status. It didn't matter if your work was relentlessly mediocre, as were Leonard Radic's reviews in his three grey decades as Age theatre critic. The institution guaranteed status and respect. "Authority", in other words, was vested in an institution rather than in the quality of a critic's work. In the best circumstances, publications gain lustre from the quality of their critics (Michael Billington for The Guardian, Kenneth Tynan for the London Evening Standard). But in the worst, as so often has been the case in Australia, the situation has been the other way around: the critic has been important because of where she is published.
This assumption has seriously disintegrated over the past five years. What we have now is a noisy and merciless marketplace in which a critic's authority has to be earned in every piece of work he writes. And the evolution of serious, engaged and intelligent critical conversation has shown up many established print reputations as the shabby pretences they actually are.
You can read some of Alison's reviews and thoughts on her blog Theatre Notes.