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Rotten Tomatoes Updates “Top Critic” Criteria, Adding 170 New Voices In Inclusion Push

Dade Hayes
·3 min read

Rotten Tomatoes has updated its criteria for designating “Top Critics” in what it calls a bid to “increase inclusion and recognize individual achievement in criticism.”

Of the 170 newly approved Top Critics, 60% are women, an estimated 25% are people of color and 24% publish their reviews through video or podcasts.

Established in 2008, the Top Critic designation created by the digital review destination owned by NBCUniversal’s Fandango aims to identify film and TV critics whose work is considered particularly distinguished. Their work gets prominently featured on Rotten Tomatoes’ movie and TV pages, factor in the designation of titles that are “Certified Fresh,” and are pooled to generate a “Top Critics” Tomatometer score.

The move reflects years of self-examination in the movie and TV business, punctuated by the #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo movements, and a related recognition of the traditionally white and male nature of the critical establishment. The print medium, too, has long dominated the realm of critics, so the new criteria reflect an effort to re-examine that.

Rotten Tomatoes said it will continue to recognize critics contributing to Top Critic-approved publications and will be granting approval to several new outlets “whose high-quality work serves underrepresented audiences.”

Rotten Tomatoes’ refreshed Top Critics criteria place an increased emphasis on a critic’s individual qualifications, body of work and dedication to the art and future of entertainment criticism, rather than basing the critic’s designation solely on their publication or employer’s status. Critics working in modern media platforms beyond the written review, including podcasts and digital and video series, are also now eligible for Top Critic consideration.

“At Rotten Tomatoes, we continue our commitment to building a more inclusive critics pool that reflects and serves the global entertainment audience, and today we took another important step by modernizing our Top Critics program,” said Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes head of critics relations. “Our team understands the value of the Top Critic designation and its ability to expand professional opportunities for critics. With an increased focus on individual merit and contributions to the field of criticism, our team is thrilled to award Top Critic status to an additional 170 deserving voices.”

In 2018, Rotten Tomatoes refreshed the overall criteria for critics contributing reviews to its Tomatometer rating system, allowing more freelance critics to qualify, as well as those working on newer media platforms. Since that refresh, Rotten Tomatoes has added more than 825 new critics. Of those, 51% are women; an estimated 20% are people of color, 59% are freelancers; and 13% publish on newer media platforms.

“Professional critics have been the backbone of Rotten Tomatoes for more than twenty years and they have helped Rotten Tomatoes grow into the trusted resource for entertainment reviews and recommendations,” said Paul Yanover, president of Fandango. “Revamping Rotten Tomatoes’ Top Critics program is another key move in our ongoing effort to increase inclusion and elevate the voices of underrepresented critics, ensuring that we serve our global audience with the best, most authentic information.”

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