Rotten Tomatoes Launches ‘RT Labs’ Educational Resource for Critics

Rotten Tomatoes has launched “RT Labs,” an online educational resource program designed to support aspiring and up-and-coming entertainment critics in their career development.

The program will feature recorded panel discussions and classes with industry experts that will be rolled out on a quarterly basis and focus on “engaging conversations and actionable guidance,” according to the service. The “RT Labs” video content will be published on Rotten Tomatoes and accessible under the “Critics” tab.

Launching Aug. 24 is the introductory installment of “RT Labs: Critics Edition,” the first in a two-part video series focusing on the ins and outs of self-publishing. Moderator Sharronda Williams, producer and host of the YouTube channel “Pay or Wait,” and panelists Erik Anderson (AwardsWatch), Robert Daniels (freelance critic), Li Lai (Mediaversity) and Kristen Lopez (IndieWire) review industry-best practices and cover elements including branding, platform management and budget, editorial oversight and more. The follow-up panel will address topics such as networking, hiring contributors and transitioning from self-publishing to freelancing, among others.

“At Rotten Tomatoes, we remain committed to amplifying diverse voices and supporting the next generation of journalists as they look to evolve and innovate the field of entertainment criticism,” Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes’ head of critic relations, said in a statement. “We are excited to launch ‘RT Labs’ and help aspiring critics gain valuable guidance and tools from some of the best minds in our industry.”

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“RT Labs” continues to build on Rotten Tomatoes’ mission to broaden and diversify the critics pool whose movie and TV reviews are reflected in the site’s Tomatometer scores, according to the service.

“Rotten Tomatoes began this quest in earnest in August 2018, when it revamped the Tomatometer critics criteria with an increased focus on critics’ individual qualifications, allowing for more freelance critics and those publishing on newer media platforms to be Tomatometer-approved,” according to a press release. “Since 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has added more than 900 critics to the Tomatometer. Over the past year, nearly 100 new critics have been added, an estimated 70% of whom are from underrepresented groups; 25% are people of color; 51% are women; 72% are freelancers; and 26% publish on newer media platforms.

In December 2020, Rotten Tomatoes revamped its Top Critics program, a designation for Tomatometer-approved critics. Of the 170 new Top Critics individually designated since that revamp, 60% are women, an estimated 25% are people of color and 24% publish via video and podcast media.

To help ensure that the next generation of entertainment critics is more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has renewed its donation to the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival Media Inclusion Initiative, which awards critics from underrepresented groups with stipends to enhance their Festival experience. Since 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has donated more than $250,000 to film festival press inclusion programs and university and junior college-level scholarships, helping support aspiring critics from underrepresented groups achieve their academic and professional goals. Rotten Tomatoes also hosts various workshops, panels and networking events for critics to gain access to editors, studio publicity and marketing executives and festival organizers at key industry events.

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