Criticism versus Reviews

Criticism versus Reviews

The distinction between reviews and criticism, reviewer and critic, should be made.

Reviewers have both space and time pressures imposed upon them. The reviewer has a “job” job. More often than not the subject/work is an assignment not a choice. The job also entails that something needs to be written even when nothing warrants it.

The critic is not on assignment but begins with the subject/work that intrigues and excites, “something that needs to be written about.” The critic is often a freelance writer who needs to sell not just his own writing to an editor, but also the story itself. The critic creates his “job.”

Here another distinction can be made between editors of newspapers and magazines at one end and editors of journals and books at the other. The relationship and collaboration level between the writer and editor will be different in each form of publication.

Also there is always a gap between the readership of the publication and the audience of the theatre work. Reviews attend the contemporary audience; criticism serves the historical audience, although each aspires for relevance in the other’s domain.

The mission at as described by editor Jonathan Kalb highlights this problem.

…space pressure has fomented a pandemic of abbreviated thinking in today’s magazines and newspapers. By the same token, our assumption that every article should determine its own length also means that we happily consider shorter pieces–provided their brevity clearly derives from critical choice, not glibness or facile partisanship.

On-line publishing such as HotReview offers a brand new playing field where editors and writers can forge and invent new relationships and collaborations. The very nature of the blogsphere itself, with its links from one blog to the next and to the many, is more a network of editors than it is a network of writers.

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