Rotten Tomatoes addressed criticism about its overwhelmingly White, male pool of approved critics by announcing changes to its certification criteria yesterday (August 28).
The movie and television criticism aggregator declared in a company blog post that it had updated the standards for critics and publications that it deems “Tomatometer-approved.” The website’s rating tool assigns films and shows a score from 0 to 100 percent based on the percentage of positive reviews from esteemed critics.
The new criteria to select critics considers four “key values”:
- Insight: a distinctive and engaging perspective on different screen projects
- Audience: a wide-reaching and/or largely underrepresented readership
- Quality: defined by clear structure (or production values for audio and video reviews) and adherence to grammar rules
- Dedication: measured by “consistent output for a minimum of two years” (or, for broadcasters, regular appearances on a “well-regarded” TV or radio outlet) and a visible enthusiasm for criticism
“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 blog post reads.
Rotten Tomatoes also announced 200 newly Tomatometer-approved commentators, including Den of Geek’s Bernard Boo and Writes of the Roundtable’s Luciana Mangas. In addition, Vanity Fair reports that the website will grant $100,000 to help offset the prohibitive costs of attending film festivals; the first $25,000 will support journalists attending the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) through the American Friends of TIFF fund.
The new changes and efforts come nearly two months after the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative confirmed that White men dominate Rotten Tomatoes’ pool of approved critics. For instance, White men outnumber women of color in the site’s reserve of “Top Critics” (reviewers at prominent publications that Rotten Tomatoes deem especially influential) by a ratio of nearly 27 to one.