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Rotten Tomatoes Celebrates Five-year Anniversary Of Its Critics Community Outreach And Grant Program With New Initiatives To Increase Representation In Entertainment Journalism

In the last five years, Rotten Tomatoes has added more than 1,000 Tomatometer-approved Critics, 66% from underrepresented groups, and donated more than half-a-million dollars to media inclusion efforts.


August 23, 2023

Rotten Tomatoes, entertainment fans’ go-to resource for movie, TV and streaming recommendations, announced today the five-year anniversary of its Rotten Tomatoes Critics Outreach and Grant Program. Formed in 2018, the program aims to increase representation in entertainment criticism through the addition of more diverse critics to its Tomatometer critics pool, and contributions to key film festival inclusion initiatives, scholarships, mentoring programs and more.   

To celebrate the milestone, Rotten Tomatoes has renewed its $25,000 donation to the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Media Inclusion Initiative, which provides financial assistance to accredited press from underrepresented groups to help them attend the festival. Since 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has donated more than $100,000 to the TIFF Media Inclusion Initiative.

"At Rotten Tomatoes, we are dedicated to serving entertainment fans worldwide and are incredibly proud of our work over the past five years to increase representation among entertainment critics,” said Jenny Jediny, Director of Critic Engagement at Rotten Tomatoes. “In addition to amplifying diverse voices and perspectives across our Rotten Tomatoes platforms, we’ve supported scholarships, mentoring programs, and film festival press inclusion initiatives, which have provided access to critics who historically have not been given early access to entertainment content like their counterparts at longer-tenured media outlets. And we’re not doing it alone – there are dozens of organizations we’re working with who are equally committed to creating an inclusive, equitable environment for current critics and the next generation.” 

This year, Rotten Tomatoes has forged new bonds with three key organizations working to increase diversity and representation in entertainment criticism. With GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, Rotten Tomatoes has supported the Crimson Honors Scholarship for LGBTQIA+ women and nonbinary students of color. Rotten Tomatoes has also collaborated with Gold House on the Futures Accelerator: Journalism mentorship program for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) journalists and critics, and filmed a new virtual panel for its “RT Labs” series, a free online educational resource platform designed to support aspiring critics through recorded expert panels, interviews, how-to guides and more. Lastly, Rotten Tomatoes has worked with The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), providing sponsorship support for their 2023 Arts & Entertainment Media Institute.

“We at GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics could not be prouder of the work we've done with our partners at Rotten Tomatoes. Thanks to their generosity, together we've been able to support, nurture and fund important young voices among emerging critics through our Crimson Honors College Critics awards, which this year supported three queer-identifying women and non-binary critics with financial assistance to pursue their important work. We are so proud to partner with such a dedicated patron of underrepresented voices in film and television criticism, particularly at a time when these diverse perspectives are in danger of being silenced. Because of Rotten Tomatoes' stewardship of this program to elevate talented and promising LGBTQ+ critics, the next generation of criticism is all the brighter,” said Walt Hickey, President of GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics.

"Gold House has been building support and momentum for Asian representation in the entertainment and media space for the past five years, but a critical piece to that progression is equipping diverse writers who can help interpret and critique these narratives and act as a critical funnel to society broadly. We're so excited to partner with Rotten Tomatoes to build this much-needed educational program for this next generation of Asian Pacific critics to collectively power cultural change. We're hoping this is just one of the many ways we can work towards a transformative shift in the media industry for a more inclusive and representative journalism landscape, where Asian Pacific writers play an integral role in shaping narratives that define our present and future,” said Christine Yi, General Manager of Gold House Futures.

Over the past five years, Rotten Tomatoes has made a major positive impact on the entertainment criticism landscape. After revamping the Tomatometer critics criteria to allow for the addition of freelance and self-published critics as well as those from newer media platforms, Rotten Tomatoes has greatly increased representation in its Tomatometer-approved critics pool, which currently includes more than 3500 active critics. Since 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has added more than 1,000 Tomatometer-approved critics: 66% are from underrepresented groups(including women, LGBTQIA+, people of color (POC), and individuals who identify as having a disability), 50% are women and 24% are POC. Also, 61% are freelancers, and 13% are from newer media platforms.

Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes has donated over $600,000 to more than a dozen film festival inclusion initiatives, educational scholarships, and mentorship opportunities for emerging and aspiring critics from underrepresented groups. Partners have included the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Sundance, SXSW, New York Film Festival, Chicago Critics Film Festival, and EbertFest, as well as the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and their Ruth Batchelor scholarship, a beacon of support for women and other underrepresented groups.

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