A year after Rotten Tomatoes announced plans to boost diversity among its approved critics, the review aggregation site revealed it has added 600 new film commentators.
In an effort to increase representation and inclusion across the industry, the company also renewed $100,000 in grants for 2020 to assist critics from underrepresented groups to attend film festivals and industry events. In 2018 and 2019, Rotten Tomatoes has helped over 160 journalists attend film festivals by donating grant money to festivals like Toronto, Sundance and SXSW.
Last August, Rotten Tomatoes refurbished its criteria to look at an individual’s qualifications, rather than just their employer when it comes to verifying critics. The initiative also expanded its pool to newer media platforms like digital videos or podcasts. Of the new critics added this year, 55% are women, 60% are freelancers and 10% publish reviews on more modern platforms like YouTube.
“Rotten Tomatoes is connecting audiences with authentic, trusted information from professional critics and fellow fans, to help them discover entertainment and decide what to watch in theaters and at home,” said Paul Yanover, president of Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes’ parent company. “Significant advancements are happening across Rotten Tomatoes, from the team’s work to increase critic diversity in the Tomatometer to expanding consumer confidence with the new Verified Audience Score. We are especially proud to commit to another $100,000 grant in 2020 to support film festivals and industry initiatives that further inclusion in entertainment criticism.”
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Despite notable gains that have allowed a diverse group of critics to amplify their voice in criticism, there are still strides to be made. Critics cited that travel costs to festivals, as well as proving their legitimacy as journalists to publications have still been barriers.
“We are encouraged by the progress we’re making towards creating a Tomatometer-approved critics pool that reflects the global entertainment audience and we will continue to build on our momentum,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes senior manager of critic relations. “We invite our industry colleagues to join us in our effort to create more opportunities for journalists, especially those from underrepresented groups. Our new critics have shared with us the obstacles they still face, such as gaining access to press screenings and film festivals and securing writing assignments.”