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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

News & Observer lays off Craig Lindsey as McClatchy continues assault on film criticism

Posted by Google on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the greatest newspaper movie ever (and there have been some good ones)
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  • Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the greatest newspaper movie ever (and there have been some good ones)
Once again, the News & Observer is reporting in its business pages that members of its own organization are losing their jobs. Today, 20 members of the organization were let go; an unknown number of them were offered voluntary buyouts.

It's my particular displeasure to report that fellow film critic Craig Lindsey was among those laid off today by the McClatchy-owned paper. It's been my privilege to work with and around Craig for several years, getting to know both his renowned eccentricities and his boundless love of pop culture in general and movies in particular.

His departure is not only personally troublesome but also adds to the number of major news dailies not providing full-time film criticism. Indeed, I believe Craig was the last full-time film critic employed by a major news daily in North Carolina. Just last year, the Charlotte Observer (another McClatchy-owned paper) converted longtime film critic Lawrence Toppman to the position of "theater and culture writer," although Toppman still occasionally contributes movie reviews.

Here is Craig's (typically irreverent) Facebook posting about today's events. [Click past the jump for the text, which is otherwise only viewable by Lindsey's FB friends. We've reprinted with his permission.]

And here is one of his last bylines for the News & Observer, an appreciation of the late filmmaker Blake Edwards that is also a revealing memoir of a film critic as a (very) young man.

Yeah, I Got Relieved of My Post

In case you haven’t gotten the news, that happened today.

But I must say, I’m not surprised that the powers to be put an end to my journalistic rampage in the Triangle, eliminating my position and telling me there is no more room at the paper for someone who mostly does film criticism. I’m kind of surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.

I have been bracing myself for this day for several years. After all, I am (or, should I say, was) a film critic, not exactly the most secure profession in journalism these past few years. We all remember a couple of years ago when film critics were being downsized left and right, and I was expecting to be right there on the unemployment line with them. Also, considering my notoriously irreverent, workplace attitude, I thought my ass would surely be out of here any day now. But, strangely enough, I stuck around. So, I must give the News & Observer credit for holding on to me for this long.

I have to take this time to thank those who have been upset and angry on my behalf. I wished I could be mad about it (even my editor kept looking at me for some sort of emotional, Florida Evans-style release when I received my severance package), but being a lifelong practitioner of low expectations and general pessimism, I could only take it in stride. To be honest, I’m more upset about the fact that I have to unload all these books and try to figure out how to get my iTunes library off my computer without using an iPod.

Now, comes the hard part. I will spend the next several weeks doing the certain-to-be-frustrating task of begging for another job. I say “begging” because that is what I will most likely be doing, since nobody seems to be hiring. Maybe something will come my way. Maybe I’ll die in North Carolina homeless, starving and penniless. Who can say? Whatever will be, will be.

But I’m just writing to lay down what happened, to thank you all for your kind words and to say, at the moment, I’m fine. —Craig D. Lindsey

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