USC Annenberg and Fandango launch multi-year Rotten Tomatoes Fellowship in Digital Innovation and Film Criticism

Unique, hands-on graduate fellowship to foster next generation of entertainment storytellers and critics for social and emerging platforms

Fandango, parent company of film and TV editorial site Rotten Tomatoes, and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism are partnering to create a professional, hands-on fellowship for digital-native students of the nation’s leading-edge arts journalism program. 

Over the next several years, the Rotten Tomatoes Fellowship will support partial tuition for students enrolled in USC Annenberg’s master of arts journalism program, the foremost graduate program for the next generation of entertainment and culture storytellers.

The fellowship will combine academic coursework from USC Annenberg and across USC’s six arts schools with on-site experience working with Rotten Tomatoes’ editorial staff and leaders, across their online, mobile and social platforms.

“As the next generation of journalism and media contributors, our arts journalism students are poised to redefine arts and entertainment criticism.” said Willow Bay, director of the School of Journalism. “We are thrilled that our top students will have the opportunity to work with an innovator like Fandango, and their movie and TV platform Rotten Tomatoes, to expand their impact on the industry, while pursuing their masters of arts journalism degree.”

Rosemarie Alejandrino
Photo by Jason Mai

Both USC Annenberg and Fandango will benefit from the new partnership, Bay added. Students gain professional experience and tuition support. At the same time, the media company wins access to forward-thinking students who not only are versed in emerging media platforms and audience engagement strategy, but also have access to state-of-the-art experimental resources available at a leading research university.

“We are excited to partner with USC Annenberg to support rising stars in the field of entertainment journalism, while helping expand film and TV criticism in the ever-changing media landscape,” said Jeff Voris, VP Rotten Tomatoes.  “We look forward to working with the talented students and faculty at USC Annenberg to create innovative digital content that represents the diverse opinions of our audience.”

Launching in the 2017–18 academic year, the first fellowship has been awarded to Rosemarie Alejandrino, a first-generation college student graduating from University of California, Berkeley in May with a bachelor’s degree in English and American studies with a concentration in popular culture and American media. She is currently the arts editor of UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian and headed up marketing for Caliber Magazine. A Filipino American, Alejandrino speaks Spanish and Tagalog.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Rotten Tomatoes and to utilize the resources that are available to USC Annenberg students,” said Alejandrino. “I know this is the best option for what I want to do — work that is based in cultural context, attempting to understand popular culture and its relationship to the world around us.”

Sasha Anawalt, director of the arts journalism program, notes that this fellowship is designed for students precisely like Alejandrino, who seek to advance and experiment in the field of journalism while straddling both the academic and professional worlds. 

“The fellowship provides working arts journalists like Rosemarie with the amazing foundation to use and strengthen her social media and digital skills while answering some of the most pressing questions Rotten Tomatoes has about how to capture, magnify and spread people’s interest in film. I can’t wait to see what she achieves.”

USC Annenberg faculty and students are looking forward to working with Rotten Tomatoes, to explore new possibilities for film criticism, said journalism professor Amara Aguilar, who helped develop the fellowship’s digital scope. “This offers the perfect chance for us to put our heads together to dream up, produce and execute ways to expand and re-invent film criticism.”

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, master's and bachelor's degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school's comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university located in the media capital of the world. 

About Fandango

Fandango is the ultimate digital network for all things movies, serving consumers with best-in-class movie information, ticketing to 29,000 screens, movie trailers and original video content for movie discovery, and home entertainment.  Its portfolio reaches more than 60 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore, with 205 million app downloads, and includes popular movie properties Flixster, Rotten Tomatoes and the Tomatometer™ rating, and Fandango Movieclips, the No. 1 movie trailers and content channel on YouTube.  Its new premium on-demand video service, FandangoNOW offers new release and catalog movies and next-day TV shows on a wide variety of connected, over-the-top (OTT) and mobile devices.  Also part of the Fandango family are Latin America’s leading online ticketers, Ingresso.com and Fandango Latin America, formerly Cinepapaya. Movie fans can find Fandango on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fandango, Twitter @Fandango, and many other social platforms. 

About Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is the go-to platform for movie and TV show debate and discussion and home of the world-famous Tomatometer™ rating, visited frequently by millions of fans to help with their entertainment viewing decisions. An online aggregator of movie and TV reviews from professional critics, Rotten Tomatoes uses the Tomatometer to measure the percentage of reviews that are positive.  Movies and TV shows that receive a Tomatometer rating of 75% or higher are deemed “Certified Fresh,” one of the industry’s most sought-after honors.