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Friday, April 23, 2004

Follow-up (advertising woes). 

Dave at Intermittent (the one who kicked off all this talk) responds to his responders with some interesting and absolutely true thoughts about the state of the industry, specifically that of our "journalists."

Right now, comics journalism online and off seems to consist of interviews, previews, sales charts, rampant speculation in the absence of fact, and guys talking about stupid toys. There's no one following the writers and artists, no one consistently keeping check on the various EIC's, no one looking at marketing trends and revenue. If we had competent journalists working as journalists in this field, we'd have seen this Icon thing coming 4 months ago.

At least Comics Continuum has the balls to strip away all pretense and just be what it is: A Press Release Factory.

The rest of the quasi-journalists, they take what the company gives us, thank them for that, and run back to the rest of us to fill us in on what scraps got thrown to us from the table. For a real journalist, that's not enough. The fact that most of our "news" comes from rumor mills like Lying in the Gutters says to me that publishers have erected a wall between themselves and the readers, and that we, as readers, are satisfied with that. That we'll accept that, and let them jerk us around and wait like obedient lapdogs for the next morsel to fall.

I would prefer we avoid the kind of trash journalism rampant on TV stations like E! and VH1, but at least journalism focused on the movie industry has some kind of equality with their subjects. They're respected, treated like humans, and sometimes feared by the moguls of Tinseltown, and even the most casual movie-goer can find out what movies will be released one, two, or even three years from now.

No such luck in comics journalism. The publishers, at least the large ones, have made their decision that we're not really worth the time and have kept us on a need-to-know basis. This hurts them and it hurts us. Treating the reporting half of the comics community like servants is exactly what keeps the comic book art form a "hobby" instead of, well, instead of an "art form." We cannot be perceived as big business if we are not treated as big business on all sides of the game.

Don't get me wrong: This isn't me laying the blame at the feet of the Big Two alone. No. Our news sites are pitiful and we've allowed them to be pitiful and we haven't kicked them in the ass enough to strive for more. It's gotten to the point, for me, where news sites are barely even relevant anymore -- I just go to blogs for all my news now, and end up as well-informed as anyone who lives and breathes Newsarama and CBR. The cults of personality that have popped up because of blogs have, strangely enough, yielded more results in continuous news coverage of the comics world than the relatively faceless news sites. Wonder why that is. (Not rhetorical; I really don't know.)

Tired of it.

ADDENDUM: This, an article about the potential ramifications of Gaiman vs. MacFarlane, is the kind of journalism we should expect more often from our news sites. I know Newsarama never claims to be a "news" site... interestingly, since "news" is right there at the front of the title.. but that's still one of the finer pieces of actual journalism I've seen come out of any comic news site in awhile.

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