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Time’s Up, USC Annenberg Launch Database of Underrepresented Journalists, Critics

Time’s Up and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on Wednesday said it would be launching a database containing the names of entertainment journalists and critics from underrepresented groups following a recent study that found a lack of racial and gender diversity among film reviewers.

The study, published by USC researcher Stacy L. Smith, found that reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 featured on RottenTomatoes.com, nearly 80% were written by men — a ratio of 3.5 to 1. Similarly, 82% of critics were white, the USC study found.

The database, known as Critical, already has more than 200 journalists and will officially launch in the coming months. The tool is intended to allow studios, film critics associations, and others to more easily find and connect with journalists and critics from underrepresented groups.

The USC study and one published Tuesday from the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television at San Diego State University are drawing attention to the lack of diversity in film criticism. The USC study also prompted action by the Sundance and Toronto Film Festival, both of which have pledged 20% of their press credentials to minorities to better reflect the American population.

Actress Brie Larson recently emphasized the issue, saying that “reviews change lives” and impact the films that are considered for awards season. She also reiterated the importance in having an industry that truly reflects the communities we live in.

The San Diego State university study argued that the gender of film reviewers can affect the visibility of female-led films. It analyzed the language used by male and female film critics when reviewing films by male and female directors. Reviews written by women were more likely than those written by men to mention the name of the woman who directed the feature and use positive comments when discussing her skills, work, and/or vision. Slightly more than half of reviews written by women about a female director’s movie featured exclusively complimentary comments compared with 38% of reviews that were written by men.

Journalists interested in becoming a part of the database can email critical@timesupnow.com.

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