[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:
Newsacut-1
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????


While this fellow has an even more basic grievance:

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. I have always wondered about the wavering level of journalism vs. press releases in the comics world. I believe one small step to improve this (in the journalism favor) is a change to the Eisner awards…. Hear me out here…

    Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism is the category that needs to be tweaked. If it is changed to award an INDIVIDUAL for an in depth article rather than an organization I believe the cream will rise to the top.

  2. The Comics Journal is far and away the absolute pinnacle of comics journalism. As for their news, they’ve found a way to trump everyone by having the greatest news blog ever – Deppey’s Journalista!

    As for Newsarama, it’s always been a press release/ softball question site that lets the Big Two hype whatever they want without ever giving any resistance.

    I’m really sad I can’t make Heroes World this year. I was *really* looking forward to the comics journalism panel so I could ask Brady to his face about his non-apology for his site’s offensive Muslim comments.

    But basically, between the Comics Journal and Journalista, everything is covered. Sites like the Beat add flavor to those two, but those two are the foundation.

  3. Hmm… Over on the Dixon/Didio/DC Editorial thread, there was a discussion about different types of bosses. Amid that was a comment that many newspaper staff members are disheartened by new owners coming from outside the media industry, and not realizing that news and commerce must remain separate.

    Build the best damn news site you can, and if you have to run “no comment”, then do so. Either the companies look foolish for snubbing you, or they mature and learn to deal with the media. Delineate news from opinion on your site, and companies should not have a reason to ignore you.

    And frankly, what is news in the comics industry? A hot storyline in the Bat-books? New title announcements? *YAWN*SCROLL*SCROOL* I visit Newsarama via links. Rarely do I browse the home page.

    I’m mainly interested in the business side. Fan stuff, discussing merits and demerits of story, that is best discussed in message boards and blogs.

    The Comics Reporter site handles news and reviews rather well. It has hosted heated, yet polite, discussions over opinion pieces, and sets the bar for everyone else.

  4. I like the new Newsarama. I don’t see much if any difference in what they cover — that William Katt joke in the comments above made me laugh, but they’ve always run that kind of story — and it’s sort of goofy to hold the blog in negative fashion against the main site instead of as a positive gain for their overall coverage.

  5. “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.”

    You make it sound like Jon Voight has done something wrong by getting older.

    And since 24 is a popular show which also became a comic series …

  6. I miss the simple layout of the old site, the way they’re clustering the information on the new site is an eyesore…they should take a clue from CBR, they’re doing it much better.

    I do enjoy their blog still, has been much better than their homepage for quite some time. I hope it can remain generally unchanged.

    I can easily continue to get my main news from The Beat or CBR, so its not a biggie if the main site changes coverage, I’ll just remove my bookmark. Unfortunately, like growing to love your evil manic step brother, I’d really miss the Newsarama community if it dissipates because of this.

    Who knows, maybe its for the best.

  7. Newsarama was never that great, but its coverage has gotten noticeably worse. More movie/game soundbites. More top ten lists.

  8. I’ve virtually stopped going to Newsarama since the relaunch. I used to check it a couple of times a day, now it’s once or twice a week for five minutes as I glance over all the stuff I couldn’t care less about and back out.

  9. “If you are reading that site in the first place, you get what you deserve.”

    Honestly, there’s many, but not a billion places to get comic news on the net…they update quit a bit and were for nice for quick fixes…perfect for quick reading in between busy moments at work. And I do stand by the Newsarama blog.

    At least I’m not going to Wizard online to get any news. :)

  10. [email protected] was covering the Dixon/DC thing about the same time as everyone else. People seem to be blowing up the lack of a front page link into something much worse than the simple mistake it was.

    And I believe all their comic stuff is aggregated…if you click on the comics tab/button at the top of the page. You can even bookmark it so you never see the rest.

    All that said, I really don’t spend much time there anymore. I think that they tended to underestimate the value of having message board threads you could subscribe to that were attached to the front page articles. I’d often subscribe so I’d be reminded to check out the actual article later or at least interact when I had more time. Now? Eh.

  11. [email protected] was covering the Dixon/DC thing about the same time as everyone else. People seem to be blowing up the lack of a front page link into something much worse than the simple mistake it was.”

    Yeah, it wasn’t like Newsarama was hiding it, [email protected] is and has been managed separately from the main site. If they pick up on something first, its because they pick up on something first. Newsarama proper doesn’t delegate where the site information goes to.

    Though you’d assume Newsarama proper should pick up on that sort of story much quicker than they did.

  12. I’m not sure if the departure of writer Chuck Dixon from DC Comics is a front page news item. That Newsarama did not go full blast in the gossip mode of what passes for journalism in the comic book industry is a good move for them.

    A lot of the news I see on many sites, including those quoted above by other posters offer a lot of “information” I do not consider news.

    There are some sites that try to offer a different perspective on comic books, but alas many ignore them because they do not offer the juicy gossipy bytes that we see on most blogs.

    For example, I wonder why Journalista constantly reports on that comic book store owner who killed his wife 20 years ago? That is not comic book-related news, and covering the developments of this story does nothing to inform the common comic book reader about comic books.

    But that’s considered news…

  13. “I’ll take THE BEAT over JOURNALISTA any old day.”

    Do we have to choose? I like reading both every morning, along with The Comics Reporter.

  14. Herve,

    The comic shop owner who killed his wife 20 years ago was relevant news for us here in the MidWest. That comic shop owner (I forgot his name, George Miller maybe?) owned and operated a major con out here, the Pittsburgh Comic Con. It was a ghost town this year because people didn’t know he was no longer involved. I thought it was good Deppey covered it because I wouldn’t have know what was going on otherwise.

    Viva la Journalista!

  15. Eric said:

    ““Do we have to choose? I like reading both every morning, along with The Comics Reporter.”

    Nope. Just responding to Kenny’s opinion that Journalista was the “foundation” and the Beat the “flavor.” I will defend to someone else’s death Kenny’s right to have that opinion, though.

    On Heidi’s recommendation I will check up [email protected]

  16. [email protected] is a fine little source in itself, among a few on a sort of second-tier below the Tom/Heidi/Dirk platinum level. I don’t know that I visit the main site more than once a month, but their blog is very good, and I certainly recommend people check it out.

  17. >> 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>>

    On the old Newsarama, I could understand griping about something being relegated to a blog post, since they were mostly listed on the sidebar, but on the new one, the blog posts get front-page display like any other article. So I don’t see why that constitutes being relegated anywhere.

    I’m not fond of the new Newsarama because it’s not as easy to navigate, the search functions don’t work as well, and the whole thing’s much slower than the previous version.

    But so it goes.

    kdb

  18. I’ve been a poster at Nrama for four or five years and, frankly, I’ve never really considered it a source for serious journalism. I don’t mean that as a slap, but there you go. The new Nrama, which I think is actually its third incarnation, differs from the previous version in that it is an entertainment site that includes a wider coverage of comics than other entertainment sites. You could think of it as an inevitable result of comics becoming a more mainstream form of entertainment.

  19. While I’m not friendly with the new look of Newsarama, I’ve got no problem with it being more focused on entertainment content than on the industry behind it. All of this inside-baseball stuff may be fascinating or important to some of us, but it should not be the first interest of the comics audience.

  20. The old Rama kicked ass. The new one….not so much. Slower site + Smaller sigs + Difficultly logging in + No hot girl(or guy) pics. + BS statements such as, “.gif pics make the site slower” and “10,000 posts in 5 days =success” = Suck.:(

  21. Like Eric, for comics news, every morning (Mon. – Fri.) I scan Journalista, The Beat, and The Comics Reporter. I also scan the Comics Journal message board, and CBGXtra.

    For non-comics news, I always check CNN, New York Times, and Fox News. Between those three, just about everything gets covered. Less often I check the BBC, and even less often, the L.A. Times.

  22. I really dislike the new Newsarama site. It looks pretty…. but I don’t want pretty. I want functional and efficient. I have been hoping for an update to the format of the site, but I was thinking something more HELPFUL not pretty. There’s a reason I get my entertainment news from Dark Horizons and not AICN or any of the other hundreds of entertainment news sites. It’s the least annoying in every way.

    True comics journalism is pretty much found in books these days. I would venture that magazines put out by Twomorrows (Draw!, Write Now!, etc) are one of the few places to find a real article outside of that. Although the CBR columnists are good as well, but I haven’t read a column on CBR since Ellis’ column ended so I don’t know what sort of state they’re in now. I tended to look at Newsarama as a collection of press releases, and I appreciated it for that. Now I look at its front page as an obstacle to finding the news I want to read.

    Check out the format of Dark Horizons. I love that site.

  23. It’s also kinda sad reading all these comments about ‘rama. I really did like posting there and it really did feel like a community. And I like MattB and what he had going on there. But seeing it become what it is really sucks.

    For one, I have to say, usually you can do one thing really really well or a lot of things pretty good. And it seems like they are shifting to doing a lot of things instead of the one and trying to tell us the one will still be as strong.

    And another, I used to be a manager for sears and was with them for the last seven years while they went through several major changes. A couple big ones before the kmart merger and then of course the kmart merger itself. And the whole time they said the same things ‘rama is saying. This won’t suffer, that won’t change, this will be better; you guys just don’t like it because you don’t like change, etc. And seeing ‘rama mirror that (and many other issues and attitudes), really concerns me because all those things ended up not panning out for sears and they have only degraded since then. That is what I see for ‘rama. They will probably level out as some sort of generic entertainment site and be lost among the ugo’s and mania.coms and whatever else covers all the stuff ‘rama is going to try to cover.

    Maybe they will figure out that if they covered comics better and more thoroughly than anyone else, then people have a reason to come there. If they maintained the community that helped build them and back them up, then they would give people a reason to come there. As it stands now, if you want good comicbook news, go elsewhere; if you want regular entertainment news with some comics, then go to ‘rama or any other site that does the same thing. Unfortunately it is sold and owned by some corporation that is snatching up sites and they won’t care about it’s reputation, just it’s ad revenue draw. I guess that’s fine, but that’s not ‘rama and not a very good long term outlook.

  24. The first place I go to every morning for comics news is The Beat. Then [email protected] I tried Journalista for a while, but quickly got tired of the ‘superior than thou’ attitude there. Acorn doesn’t fall very far from the oak tree.

  25. “You could think of it as an inevitable result of comics becoming a more mainstream form of entertainment.”

    No … if comics were becoming more mainstream, they’d cover comics … I suspect the desire for more traffic leads to covering other media.

  26. Probably the main difference between my column and a major comics news site, Ace, is that people come to me with stories and if a place like Newsarama wanted to do similar things they’d have to go to the people.

    I pretty much only read Journalista!, Comics Reporter and PW Comics for online comics news anyway… and there’s rarely all that much in the line of important news in any of those. There generally just aren’t a lot of things unconnected from pimping the wares that goes on in the business on a day to day basis. The other problem is that a lot of people inside the business, who are the ones to know what’s really going on, just aren’t often going to trust a news site with potentially damaging (to some company) information, if they don’t want to be outed, since, as you say, most of the news sites have become vassalized by the companies in order to maintain their “sources.”

    On the other hand, if “sources” are relegated to those only interested in using the “news” sites to pitch wares, what good is having “sources”?

    – Grant

  27. If people have truly lost their post counts on the Newsarama forums, and others have had theirs artificially inflated, then it is truly a travesty. How will we know whose opinion matters most?