Critics Groups Align to Push for Stronger Diversity, Pay and Cultural Recognition

Critics Groups Align to form Critics Groups for Equality in Media (CGEM) to Push for Stronger Diversity, Pay and Cultural Recognition

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 – Los Angeles, CA – Six national critics organizations that champion underrepresented yet influential voices in entertainment journalism have joined forces to form Critics Groups for Equality in Media, a professional coalition seeking to improve awareness of the value of women, people of color and LGBTQ journalists who cover the worlds of film and television. CGEM seeks to improve engagement with studios, networks, PR firms and other entertainment organizations, push for better pay and representation among media outlets on behalf of the groups’ members, and nurture next-generation voices in entertainment journalism.

The allied groups participating in CGEM are the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the Features Forum of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), the Online Association of Female Film Critics (OAFFC) and TIME’S UP Entertainment, which recently launched CRITICAL, an opt-in press database designed to support greater diversity among critics and entertainment reporters. The groups will exchange their experiences and ideas and work together to advance their goals. Among the possible initiatives the coalition is discussing is a watchdog component that would include giving studios, networks and PR houses an annual grade based on the quality of their engagement with each group. CGEM is also considering presenting special honors to public relations professionals and media executives who have advanced equality in media and working with journalists.  Other entities sharing the coalition’s mission will be invited to join in the future.

“Each of our groups represents a unique perspective – often informed by oppression – that enriches and shapes society,” said John Griffiths, GALECA’s Executive Director. “Yet, even amid today’s stepped-up push for diversity and inclusivity progress has been slow and many fail to realize that our group’s voices—if amplified to match their true value—can provide a roadmap for boosting creativity, box office, ratings and excitement for a project. Our goal is to break down those barriers for ourselves, for audiences and for the next generation of entertainment journalists.” 

Gil Robertson, AAFCA co-founder and president, added “When studios, networks and other entertainment organizations work in partnership with our organizations and members, we’ve seen how that synergy creates evolved thinking and inspired perspectives. It’s a win for everyone, especially audiences.  However, that doesn’t happen nearly enough and we’re hoping that the launch of CGEM can help forge that path.”

“CGEM’s formation comes at a critical time in the industry,” notes Mariecar Mendoza, Director of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Features Forum. “When we talk about how representation matters in Hollywood, we should not forget that representation in the media is just as important. Ensuring that we provide access to a diverse pool of entertainment journalists brings new perspective and can help the media keep Hollywood accountable.”

Clayton Davis, Founder and President of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association added, “The Latino voice is sadly lacking on the screen and via bylines, even though our community buys 23 percent of America’s movie tickets,” (Davis is referring to a 2017 report by the Motion Picture Association of America). “We need more full-blooded Latino faces in movies and TV, in newsrooms, junkets and at press screenings.”

Mara Grobins Nasatir, Director of Initiatives for TIME’S UP Entertainment, noted that, according to research from USC professor Dr. Stacy Smith, while America’s population is over 50-percent female, only 22 percent of the reviews of the nation’s top 100 movies of 2017 listed on Rotten Tomatoes—the powerful critics aggregate—were written by women. Recent similar studies haven’t shown much improvement. “Early critical response to a movie determines important factors such as marketing budget and distribution,” said Nasatir, explaining why Time’s Up Entertainment’s CRTICIAL database lives up to its name. “Without greater diversity among the critical voices responding to content, not all movies, directors, writers and creators are given the same opportunities to succeed.”  

“Too often, women’s voices in film criticism are minimized, dismissed, or altogether ignored,” added Louisa Moore, President of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. “As an organization designed to promote diverse viewpoints in media commentary, the OAFFC is proud to be a member of CGEM. This alliance is a reminder that the landscape of modern film criticism is changing.”

Plus, “The critics associations in CGEM trumpet and award both mainstream and niche titles,” said Griffiths, noting that his LGBTQ critics group’s 2012 Film of the Year award went to Argo. “But we can’t get our messages out to the world if celebrities and filmmakers, or their reps, don’t harness our tipping-point power.” 

CGEM Liaisons

– Gil Robertson, President, AAFCA: African American Film Critics Association, @theaafca

– Maricar Mendoza, Director, AAJA: Asian American Journalists Association Features Forum, @aaja

– John Griffiths, Executive Director, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, @DorianAwards

– Clayton Davis, President, LEJA: Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, @LEJALatino

– Louisa Moore, President, OAFFC: Online Association of Female Film Critics, @theOAFFC

– Mara Grobins Nasatir, Director of Initiatives, TIME’S UP Entertainment, @TIMESUPNOW

About CGEM 

Critics Groups for Equality in Media (CGEM) is a coalition of national entertainment critics groups that each represents an underrepresented yet powerful segment of society boasting a distinctive cultural perspective that greatly shapes the world at large. From pushing for stronger representation on mastheads to better pay to fighting against systemic racial and gender bias, CGEM’s participating groups are united in their work to raise awareness of their members’ value to Hollywood and society.

About AAFCA

Established in 2003, the African American Film Critics Association is the premiere body of Black film critics in the world, actively reviewing film and television, with a particular emphasis on entertainment that includes the Black experience and storytellers from the African Diaspora. The organization’s primary mission is to cultivate understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contributions of African descended talent to cinematic and television culture – from the artistic and technical legends of the past to the still unimagined breakthroughs of future generations.  AAFCA members are a geographically diverse cross-section of journalists, covering all genres of the cinematic arts, while representing multiple mediums – including print, TV, radio broadcast and online. Collectively, they reach a worldwide audience in excess of 100 million. As a non-profit organization, AAFCA is committed to numerous educational and philanthropic efforts, particularly those that foster and celebrate diversity and inclusion. For more information on AAFCA and its programs visit AAFCA.com.

About AAJA and its Features Forum affinity group

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 1,500 members across the United States and Asia. Since its founding, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. Helping advance the overall organization’s missions, the AAJA Features Forum — one of organization’s 10 unique affinity groups — was formed for features, arts, entertainment and lifestyles journalists and aims to foster creative storytelling and innovation across multiple platforms.

About GALECA 

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, founded in 2009, sponsors the Dorian Awards, honoring the best in film and television. The nonprofit group counts over 200 professional critics and journalists writing for legitimate media outlets in the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K. GALECA aims to generate camaraderie and solidarity in an unsettling media environment, champion constructive criticism and elevate the craft of entertainment journalism. Via panels, screenings and the annual Dorian Awards Winners Toast, GALECA also strives to remind at-risk youth, bullies and bigots that our Q-munity has a rich history of putting great and unique entertainment on everyone’s radar. After all, how would the world fare without knowing what’s campy? For more information and news, visit GALECA.org and @DorianAwards.

About LEJA 

The Latino Entertainment Journalists Association is committed to developing and celebrating Latino voices among all areas and backgrounds of the entertainment industry.  Founded in 2018, LEJA provides a much-needed opportunity for writers from the United States to have their works amplified and heard in the areas of film, television, music, theatre, and the arts.  Accepting of all backgrounds and identities, LEJA embraces anyone who identifies as Latino, Latina, Latinx, Hispanic, Afro-Latino, Afro-Latina, Latin@, Spanish or any inclusive and progressive description that champions and accelerates the voices of our culture from around the world.

About OAFFC

The Online Association of Female Film Critics is an independent organization consisting of female film journalists and critics from across the globe. The OAFFC serves to uphold the integrity of online film criticism, foster the growing field of female film writers, celebrate and recognize outstanding achievement in cinema through our annual “Best of the Year” awards, and provide professional support for our members. Membership consists of women whose primary media affiliation is an online publication. For more information and news, visit OAFFC.com.

About TIME’S UP Entertainment 

TIME’S UP Entertainment works toward creating safe, fair and dignified workplaces for women of all kinds across the entertainment industry. TIME’S UP Entertainment is an affiliate within TIME’S UP, an expanding coalition across industries dedicated to collectively shifting the paradigm of workplace culture. Last year, TIME’S UP Entertainment launched its Critics Initiative, which aims to increase access for underrepresented critics and entertainment reporters. As part of the initiative, TIME’S UP Entertainment is piloting an opt-in database called CRITICAL that will ultimately allow studios, talent, film critics associations and representatives to more easily find and contact entertainment journalists and critics from underrepresented groups. TIME’S UP Entertainment is also working with talent, studios, and PR professionals to encourage media inclusion. Interested journalists can add themselves to the CRITICAL database here. 

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