The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

NYCC 2008: Choosing the News: The Changing Face of Online Journalism

Written by: Ron Bricker

Image"It's a fact – journalism has changed. With more outlets than ever, more demands from news sources, and comics increasingly covered by the mainstream, how do comics news sites navigate the uncharted waters?" – NYCC Program Guide. Online journalists, both big and small, discuss the boom in online news sources.
Panelists include:

Heidi MacDonald –Moderator
Matt Brady – Newsarama
Rick Marshall – ComicMix
Richard George – IGN
Brian Heater – Daily Cross Hatch

The panel opened with Heidi first asking how much has online journalism changed in the last few years..

Matt Brady of Newsarama spoke up first and claimed the “blog scene” is the biggest reason for the boom in online journalism. The reason for blogging is because people feel other news sources aren’t doing the coverage they want covered, therefore they take it upon themselves to carry that out.

Rick Marshall claimed that places like Facebook and MySpace are reasons for the boom. The technology used makes serving audiences with information they want to which Brian Heater agreed. He then joked that it’s the death of print that is helping online journalism which received a laugh from the audience.

Another panelist talked about how everyone is able to jump on the web, start up a blog and with a little hard work they can get their content and name out there and with the internet as their ultimate tool for information, almost puts them on the same level as “professionals.”

Heidi then asked Richard George of IGN to detail the “secret origin” of their comics site which has become such a giant and recently has taken up covering comics. George responded that Hilary Goldstein, the creator of IGN, is a die hard comic fan and when the site became a huge hit, it seemed like an obvious evolution as it gets closer to covering every facet of pop culture.

Rick Marshal then continued with the origin of ComicMix which started by a bunch of technology junkies covering gadgets and the likes deciding to cover comics, along with the help of a DC editor.

Heidi then directed the conversation to the use of viral marketing by comic companies, including Marvel and DC.

Matt Brady jumped on the question first showing his distaste for viral marketing claiming, “It’s distasteful to your audience” because of how much it leads its fans on.

A panelist then talked about The Dark Knight, sequel to the successful Batman film franchise reboot coming in July of 2008, viral campaigning and how it excites audiences. But as a journalist you have to take everything with a grain a salt and not let it hinder reporting. A funny comment by Brian Heater followed saying, “when comics figure out viral marketing, it will be dead.

The panel then started talking about the spook viral letter they had all received called “Viramar” which is still a mystery to everyone. Apparently there will be a reveal during the Con.

Matt Brady then talked about what “journalism” has become today. “Journalism” is a completely subjective word now”, said Brady. People view journalism as a means to report news that is exactly what they want to hear. If it counters viewer’s opinions, then the “journalists” are called hacks, and press release regurgitators.

The conversation then shift to Harry Knowles, the creator of Ain’t It Cool News, crediting him as the figurehead of online journalism that was more than just rumor sources.

Finally, the panel then discussed the two types of online journalism. There are the people at Cons, like this one, where writers will post their content minutes after panels but without context in their articles. The second type of online journalism site is the one that takes the time to add context to their news. However they are not the first scoops, which is a tough line to straddle because people using the internet are an impatient bunch. Therefore these audiences are looking for news fast making these sites look like copiers of faster posting news sources. Which a lot of the panelists nodded their head too.

After a few questions asked by audience members, reiterating the discussion of the panel, the conference end.

For news sites such as CC2K, currently trying to make a name for ourselves, this panel was extremely informative. We have strived to give our readers something more when we write our articles besides just being a secondary news dump, and it seems that all these higher-ups of the online journalism scene tend to agree it’s what can make a decent website a great one.