Everybody loves "Sideways": patterns of consensus (and lack thereof) among movie critics in 2004
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Research on pack journalism tends to focus on the seeming homogeneity in much reporting of hard news. This study examines similar tendencies among film critics, who often seem to achieve a high degree of consensus in a short period of time. Qualitative textual analyses of ten critics' reviews of multiple films suggest that those endorsing a much-praised film feel comfortable diverging from commonly held assessments of some aspects of that movie; some diversity of opinion exists within consensus. However, those critics who are lauding a work dismissed by their peers often temper their initial, contrary opinions in later articles to better fit within the mainstream. This indicates that critics in the minority often allow those in the majority to set the parameters by which a film is judged. These findings have implications for the study of how a "master narrative" may be created and defined in opinion writing as well as more traditional journalism.
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