Chris Butcher had a post on the state of comics journalism a few days ago that everyone should read. In it he basically echoed what I was saying a few weeks ago: the vast majority of the comics press wouldn’t be able to cover an actual comics news story if it hit them over the head with a grandfather clock, ran them over a with a car, put hot sauce in their sandals and then bit them in the ass. The reason? They are more interested in partying with the stars. As I’ve always said, I’m just as guilty of this as anyone, but on the long-gone occasions when I did report a story that people didn’t like, I was swiftly dealt with — banned from the offices of one company, stricken from the comp list of another. When that’s the level of retribution you can expect, no wonder everyone wants to play handball, but hardball.
Dick Hyacinth covers this in a long response to Butcher’s post:
As much as I like Blogorama and similar news accretion and commentary sites (ie, Journalista, The Beat, and The Comic Reporter), there’s not a whole lot of investigative journalism happening online. Butcher mentions Newsarama’s coverage of the Superboy reversion rights story as an example of real journalism, and he’s probably right. But I still think there’s a fanboy element at work there–will DC get to use Superboy in the future, or will Jerry Siegel’s greedy relatives deprive us of these stories? Not that Newsarama is voicing this opinion, but its readers surely are. Actually, that link is for a comment left on a Blogorama post by Tom Bondurant. When I tried a Google search for copyright + superboy on the newsarama.com domain, most of the recent stories appeared on Blogorama. Maybe Google isn’t finding the Superboy stories from Newsarama’s main site, but I seem to recall a link to the Bondurant story serving in lieu of a separate parent site story on the most recent developments in the case. In other words, I think [email protected] is doing the heavy lifting on the Superboy copyright story. Bondurant’s post was a legitimate piece of journalism, but is anyone else doing this kind of reporting? Is anyone doing it on a regular basis?
I’m surprised more people don’t pine away for Michael Dean, the Comics Journal’s former news editor. Since he took over as the managing editor, the Journal has NO news editor. While I’m sure everyone is relieved that they no longer hear “Michael Dean is on the line!” they must also secretly miss having a giggle for when his dogged reporting was turned onto the competition. I actually asked Gary Groth if the Journal would be hiring a new news editor back in May at Book Expo, and he said that maybe if people stopped suing them, they would have some money to hire someone.
When is the last time someone in the comics press wrote a story with as many hard numbers as the IDW profile I just linked to? It’s just a fairly typical business story — nothing revolutionary, and yet the writer talks to experts, gets facts and figures and in general does something very few comics journos have the time and resources to do.
Which brings us back to Newsarama’s purchase by Imaginova, the dot.com for the “intellectually curious.” According to various tech news sites, Imaginova had a $15 million war chest for acquisitions, so webheads can do their own math on guessing how much Matt and Mike cashed out for.
Red Herring has a few more insights:
New York City-based Imaginova declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal announced Monday, but the company said it was part of a strategic expansion of its advertising-supported web sites such as LiveScience, Space.com, and Aviation.com.
Dan Stone, who joined the company as president and chief executive in June 2002, said the company is pursuing its audience of highly educated, tech-savvy 25- to 54-year-olds into another area of interest.
“Part of this was driven by our advertisers in Hollywood,” he said, noting that ad buyers, like movie studios and publishers of computer games, prefer a larger audience to create a more efficient campaign.
Whatever the thinking, it’s hard not to imagine Newsarama getting many upgrades, including RSS feeds, better SEO and so on, that will make it even more of a powerhouse site.
Meanwhile, the comics blogosphere had a few reactions. Johanna and her readers had a bit of snark. Chris Butcher was a bit apathetic. In fact it was this fellow, seemingly a comics book enthusiast who blogs, who has the most cranky reaction:
As you see, I’m not a fan of Newsarama. I think that it is because there is too much information on the site. I get a headache from the flashing advertising all over the page. And…I simply get lost in the page. Not much there–but there is. Just nothing interesting. I’m a little annoyed that it is owned by some big digital media corporation, Imaginova–whatever happened to the little guys…have they all sold out? I just don’t like it–it looks like too much work.
These days it’s just too much work for everyone, I guess.