Come back to the five and dime, Michael Dean, Michael Dean
[Ironically, this post was supposed to go up yesterday but got eaten by Ecto — I’ve had to recreate it from scratch and may have lost some of my momentum along the way.]
If you’ve been reading this blog or other lately you may have noticed that there’s quite a bit of news going on on the comics biz, what with various companies in various stages of reorganization, and DC and Marvel locked in mortal combat over the Summer Crossover Derby. However at one point yesterday, this is what the “#1 comics news site” news feed looked like on our RSS reader:
It seems a little sad but perhaps it’s just a sign of the times that the winners of a fairly prestigious award are “relegated” to a blog post, while an AP news story on an aging movie star being cast in a Fox TV show is considered a headline on the main site.
Covering breaking news seems to be a work in progress at the new ‘Rama. While l’Affaire de Chuck Dixon was all over the blogosphere last week, it was absent from Newsarama’s front page, something that did not escape Valerie’s notice. Matt Brady came back the next day with a solid story that was mostly background and no comment but at least it was something.
Of course, Newsarama isn’t the first mainstream news site to be caught short by the rapid response tactics of the blogosphere. But Newsarama isn’t Matt Brady and Michael Doran’s site anymore, either. it’s now owned by Imaginova, a cluster of science geek sites that has been on an acquisition spree lately, just recently adding “Earth911.com, the nation’s premier Web portal focused on local recycling,” to its portfolio. While recycling has historically been more Imaginova’s speed than say, the Shuster Awards, they seem quite eager to turn Newsarama into the kind of general entertainment news portal that pretty much defines the Internet. In all honesty, it’s a better way to get ad revenue and a better way to grow the site long term, at least on paper.
The Imaginova takeover has been especially notable on the newly installed message boards, where moderators with names like Deputy Van Halen display the kind of Teflon-coated bonhommie that only real computer nerd mods can master. It’s pretty funny watching them interact with the notoriously opinionated Newsarama community.
For instance, this fellow on the Hobbit Hole is particularly incensed about the new poster stats:
1) They chose NOT to import any old posts! WTF?????????
2) They chose NOT to import any of previous members account info. This means our post count & original join date are DELETED and reset to ZERO.
3) Now here is the biggest insult to injury. Now I could easily live with point #2 except for this:
If you have a forum account with OTHER Imaginova “communities” like for instance space.com or livescience.com you can stay logged in and participate on Newsarama’s new comic message boards. This means you can have a 2005 (or earlier) join date with 20,000+ post while posting on Newsarama. WTF?? Who thought THIS affront was a Good Idea?????????????
So as far as I’m concerned Imaginova ruined Newsarama. And although the new site LOOKS great it’s rapidly looking less and less like a Comic News site with the front page full of articles about non comic related movies like Kung Fu Panda. Whatever.
On the boards, poster Stumpy found himself living in a painful, I Am Legend-like wasteland for a time:
I’m not as internet savy as a lot of the posters out there, but for three days I kept checking my favorites (which were set on news, features, and marvel) and couldn’t figure out why no one had posted since June 3rd. At first I thought that maybe it was my computer because my town’s internet was out for a day, and then I figured the site was down. I even went so far as to PM Matt Brady asking him if I had messed something up. When I didn’t get a response I decided to google Newsarama to see if there was any other sites that was reporting something wrong with it when I found a link for this site. Now, I haven’t searched too much on it (mainly because it reminds me exactly of Myspace AND IGN AND CBR which the old Newsarama stood apart from in its simplicity yet elegance) but I just tonight was able to find some posts with current events and god help me try and find any responses to this one. I’m VERY OLD SCHOOL for only being 30 AND I am VERY much against change (even if it’s for the better) but I do get the feeling like I lost my community. I mean come on, even though I never posted on it, HOW COOL was it that Ant Man appreciation thread was in the tens of thousands????
Well, my first problem is that my user name is not “Bender-bra”.
Meanwhile, in a larger sense it’s sad that a column by Steven Grant contains more news gathering than a major news site, but it seems our own blithe assertion that internet news would take over print news has backfired in a way we couldn’t foresee, For instance, back in 2003 the Comics Journal’s then-news editor Michael Dean wrote a lengthy, well-sourced story on Platinum Studios odd publishing plan that involved no actual publishing. Since then, the Journal sees no need to publish news, and no one has ever replaced Michael Dean. (I can testify from personal experience that a phone call from Dean was not an experience that anyone ever wanted to go through, but we all had to take our turns in the hot seat in order to get the goods on the other guys.)
So what’s to be done? Comic Book Resources still has the best columns in the biz, and is stepping up in the news department, but every site out there still has to deal with threats to their access, and given the what fans want to read (previews and interviews, apparently) there’s just no way anyone can gain enough independence anymore.
While we’re still enjoined by our own personal enmeshment in far too many stories from being a real journalist any more, we’ll still do out best to put together the pieces where we can. In other words, keep those off the record phone calls and emails coming, kids — we never reveal a source.
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