Professional critics: An endangered species?

Lately I've gotten inquiries about who'll be appointed the new restaurant critic at Phoenix Magazine, in the wake of longtime critic Nikki Buchanan's much-talked-about dismissal.

No one, as it turns out.

Ashlea Deahl, the magazine's editor, explained, "We don't have any immediate plans to hire another full-time dining critic."

Instead, Deahl said, the editorial mix will be expanded to include more food-related features by freelancers.

Are the days of professional critics dwindling? Gloomy journalism news -- like, hey, Reuters just announced it's cutting 140 editorial jobs this year -- has me wondering.

On the local front, I also heard that Chris Page, theater critic for the East Valley Tribune, got the ax in the paper's recent round of layoffs, and that Kyle Lawson, theater critic for the Republic, just retired -- and will not be replaced. This is the end, beautiful friend...

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