Nowadays, when anybody (and nobody) hold themselves out as critics (by posting on the internet for example), I find myself increasingly discerning as to who, among the professional critics, I trust.
Sadly, the great ones - the ones I trusted without question - are either dead or retired. The names that spring to mind are Steane, Blyth, Salter, Mann etc. There are others, Potter for example, and, from further afield Tubeuf and Hansgeorg Lenz.
I am not sure what made them great - the ability to convince is no doubt a quality; no pre-formed views, getting to the heart of the matter; demonstrating the points that really counts etc. But also the fact that, though their views could be cutting and ascerbing, from the core of their reviews always shone a light of respect for the performers in question, whether they agreed with an interpretation or not.
Unquestionably, Gramophone still manages to hold on to some of the good ones - I rarely question Cowan or Osborne, for example.
Others, I barely bother with - to me Bryce Morrison, despite his music credentials and knowledge, was entirely discredited by the Hatto affair (in the corporate world he'd been axed). It goes to show that an imminent teacher or performer doesn't necessarily make a good critic. Peter Quantrill is so prejudiced that I know that he'd annoy me even before we get started. Harriet Smith's star is descending over her love affair with Paul Lewis. Mellor's on the rise for his openmindedness and generosity of spirit that shines through.
I'd be interested in knowing what critics you trust. And what makes a great critic.