Are Media Critics an Endangered Species?

Slate has laid off Jack Shafer, the articulately grouchy media critic and author of the Press Box columnist, reports Adweek.

“This was a decision that made sense both financially and editorially. It was a painful decision for us,” editor David Plotz told Adweek. But it was a decision that we think—coupled with some new editorial and technological investments that we’re going to make—will pay off in the long run.”

The Washington Post-owned online magazine has been increasingly running syndicated content. They also laid off associate editor Juliet Lapidos, foreign editor June Thomas, and Timothy Noah, the “Chatterbox” columnist, who will continue as a contributor.

Mr. Shafer’s departure was reported hours after Jim Romenesko announced he will back away from his duties at Poynter Institute to start his own website, JimRomenesko.com.

Mr. Romenesko was among the first bloggers to target media professionals, aggregating the work they did and the industry news and gossip about how they did it. As such, he’s a sort of spiritual father to Gawker and other blogs that made a weekly media column, like Mr. Shafer’s, less relevant. That kind of criticism played out, often anonymously, in the comments section of blogs. And now that Twitter exists, everyone’s a media critic.

“My role kind of vanished. I was a town crier but just one of many,” he told The New York Times.

He’s going out back to old-fashioned reporting.


Are Media Critics an Endangered Species?