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The Village Voice food critic weighs in on the amateur-pro debate in the Columbia Journalism Review.
I’m all for everyone having his or her say, but when it comes to cultural criticism there is a strong case to be made for professionalism and expertise. As the eminent film critic Richard Schickel wrote in 2007, in response to a New York Times article on the decline of professional book-reviewing and the rise of review-bloggers: “Criticism and its humble cousin, reviewing, is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions. . . . It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author’s (or filmmaker’s or painter’s) entire body of work, among other qualities.”