The occasional blistering, negative review serves a meaningful purpose. For two reasons:
1) It keeps publications honest. A negative review shows readers, sponsors and others who want reviews that the writers are free to call it as they see it, which increases trust and in turn increases the value of our good reviews.
2) Readers love a good decapitation. One of the most famous stories the Observer ran was a blistering beatdown of Junk Food TV Star Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant. “Mr. Fieri not only serves truly horrible-tasting food, an awkward origami of clashing aleatory flavors, but he serves this punishing food emulsified with a bombastic recasting of deep-fried American myth. Mr. Fieri’s most egregious transgression isn’t what he puts into his fellow citizens’ stomachs, it’s how the cynical slop interfaces with what he puts into their minds.”
I’ve written hundreds of book reviews in my day and 90% ish have been positive. Hey, I love books — that’s why we bought a bookstore! So naturally most of the ones I read produce good vibrations. But that occasional imperative to bust someone’s balls remain some of my favorites. My story in The Media Globe offers some of the details.