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RIP Roger Ebert: Movie criticism’s Great Communicator

Roger Ebert, who died on Thursday at age 70 after a long and debilitating struggle with cancer that never sapped his spirit, was the Great Communicator of movie criticism, a genuine and generous man who became the greatest popular advocate the form has ever had. He reached millions of readers with his straightforward prose, and a vastly larger universe of TV viewers in the ‘80s and ‘90s with his gruff but avuncular presence. Even if you’re too young to have grown up watching Ebert spar on the small screen with his late friend and rival Gene Siskel, you still know who he is. Virtually alone among his generation of journalists, Ebert saw the substantive potential of social media early on and translated his fame in print and on TV to the Internet, becoming a Twitter trailblazer and a mentor who showed the rest of us in this imploding profession not just how to survive but how to prosper in the digital age.

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