Tim Hodler explains what was going on at the journo panel:
If I’m going to be editing and writing comics criticism, it’s important to be able to separate personal friendships and acquaintances from my writing, and it’s already a lot more difficult to do than it was just two years ago. (Being married to a cartoonist, and not wanting to have her work unfairly linked to my opinions — we disagree on plenty, believe me — doesn’t really make it any easier.) It’s not really that difficult, but it’s an ethical distinction that I have to be vigilant about, and it’s also probably the largest single difference between how I currently approach comics and how I read and talked about them pre-CC, when I’d praise or trash comics with impunity. Now I try to make a point of not reviewing comics by people I know well, at least in print or on the blog, and I think that’s probably for the best, at least for now.
Meanwhile, Craig Fischer notes that The Beat and Matt Brady are blabbermouths, which, unfortunately is true.
For some reason–maybe through the sheer force of their personalities rather than anything else–Brady and MacDonald dominated the discussion. They complained about the mountain of information they have to sift through every day as part of their jobs, and about how they need to strike a balance between rigorous journalism and what Brady called “the long-term picture”: the need to stay on good terms with DC and Marvel so as to continue to receive timely news and information from these companies. Brady referred to Newsarama’s relationship with big comics publishers as “carrots and sticks, threats and spankings,” and indicated that the companies’ threats and spankings influenced the information posted on Newsarama.
Which, of course, sucks. I’m much more sympathetic to the work that Hodler, Draper-Carlson and Hargro do: careful, reasoned analysis of individual comics and graphic novels is more important to me than chasing after the six-hour “news cycles” of the comics industry. These critics responded to Brady’s description of the “threats and spankings” situation with admirable independence– Draper-Carlson said that because she has a day job, she doesn’t care “if someone is pissed” at her, while Hodler and Hargro pointed out that newspapers traditionally build strong firewalls between their editorial and advertising divisions to avoid the dangers inherent in allowing threats to chill journalistic speech.