Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

From the Editor: Critic Guides Us through TV's Changes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

From the Editor: Critic Guides Us through TV's Changes

Article excerpt

The evolution of television programming coupled with how, when and where people watch television has created a massive cultural shift over the past two decades.

Viewers once had a television set that would air a limited menu of shows at fixed times. People had to be home to watch their favorite shows. Later, the advent of the videocassette recorder changed how and when people could watch television.

For television critics, networks ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS once dominated the programming. Staying abreast of new developments evolved from VHS tapes, to DVDs to now video streaming on a computer screen. And the panoply of new players creating television programming has expanded far beyond the legacy networks.

My how times have changed.

Your modern television critic now devotes a great deal of time writing for social media, blogging, hosting online chats and tweeting. Like fans of sports columnists, the true devotees can't get enough of the latest and greatest about their favorite stars. What shows are new and what's being canceled?

Television has morphed into streaming video, binge viewing, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, cable-channel productions and an array of social media channels, which people watch on devices from plasma screens to smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. Day and time no longer matter to viewers.

The power to view and record television lies in the consumers' hands. That expanding universe of consumer choices and content presents a continually changing landscape for television critics.

Enter Post-Dispatch TV critic Gail Pennington. Through Tuesday, she will have spent two weeks covering, blogging and tweeting from the Television Critics Association fall television preview, held in the swanky Beverly Hilton Hotel. It marks her 20th anniversary on the television press circuit.

Pennington has filed multiple items on her Tube Talk blog on STLtoday.com each day that include tidbits from the Hollywood cavalcade. About a dozen times a day, stars and TV execs hold news conferences about what television has in store this fall. It sounds glitzy, but she likens them to highly organized presidential press conferences.

"I have the best job in the world," Pennington said between news conferences. …

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