“What does it mean, at a time when film criticism as a profession is all but dead, to be the top critic?” Susman asks. “Even Ebert has suffered from the collapse of criticism, in that he is no longer as influential as he once was.”
But, “it’s a bitter paradox that the man who first gave criticism an audible voice should lose his own, but now that typing is the only way he can express himself, he’s been on fire as a writer.”
You may not be able to blame Ebert for the current dire situation wrought by his inferior imitators and others who learned the wrong lessons from his show — he surely never intended to cause the avalanche that wiped out his profession — but he and Gene Siskel are the ones who started the snowball rolling. … No one, including Ebert, can predict what film criticism will look like in 20 years (or even in two years), but he’s surely correct in recognizing that it’ll be shaped primarily by the Internet.