There's a lot of discussion of the role of the critic swirling in the fringes of the media these days.
A few weeks ago, A.O. Scott, the film critic for the New York Times, received a less than positive critique of his review of Marvel's The Avengers. Samuel L. Jackson, one of the movie's stars, suggested that Mr. Scott should find another profession. In the above video, A.O. Scott and David Carr discuss the episode.
The newly launched Shaw New York festival just hosted a Critics Symposium that promised to wrestle with the rather existential question, "Are Critics Necessary?" Many well-known theater critics were in attendance.
Also, Bill Marx, at The Arts Fuse, brings our attention to a Harvard Business School study about book reviews:
Recent proof that ignorance reigns, not only at mainstream publications, many of which are downsizing their reviewing staff as quickly as possible, but even at the respected Harvard Business School, is supplied by a recent HBS report arguing that Amazon reviews are just as likely to give “an accurate summary” of a book’s quality as critiques in professional newspapers. In contrast to Amazon’s consumer reviews, “What Makes a Critic Tick?” concludes “experts tend to favor more established authors and the data suggests that media outlets cater reviews to their own audiences, who have a preference for books written by their own journalists and book-award winners, whereas consumers tend to favor first-time authors.”
The Harvard Business School Report is available here.