Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quick thought on the new Newsarama

I think the problem with the new Newsarama is that when a story breaks like Chuck Dixon suddenly not at DC anymore, they should have that on their front page. I should be able to go right now to their site and see it as a link. And even if there isn't a lot of solid news surrounding the story at the moment besides his terse statement on the forum, there should be something -- a recap of all he's done, of his current projects -- and yes, even speculation. Not "hard-journalism" enough for you? CNN speculates all the time. They can fill out whole hours based on one line and tons of speculation.

Yeah, Newsarama has their blog covering Dixon -- that little box you have to scroll all the way back down to the bottom of the page to access.

Everything else is like: press junket, press junket, link bait, press junket. And when they have something like about how DC should learn from Marvel in the movie biz, they have to slap a big "OP/ED" on it.

News doesn't have to be this bloodless.

To me, news is: "here is the shit, can you believe this shit, here is shit we are speculating about the shit, here are these people we brought in who are going to give their own views of the shit, and here are the viewer comments on the shit. holy shit!"

CNN does this all the time. Take a look at their website sometime. But, you know, CNN is supposed to be "legit."

If I want hard news on comics, I'll go pick up Comics Journal. Seriously. Entertain me, Newsarama. Inform me but entertain me too. Or at least give your blog a more prominent place on the site. That tiny generic button on the top navigation is not doing it.

Hm, methinks this was more than just a quick thought.


  1. Oh dear gods, I can see the point you're trying to make but please don't use CNN as an example of what you should do if you're trying to do journalism unless you're using it as a "counter-example" (as in "don't do the things that CNN does"). Compare positively to CNN from 20 years ago if you must, but telling me that Newsarama isn't doing "journalism" the way CNN does "journalism" nowadays makes me think Newsarama is actually doing something RIGHT.

    I think putting the "rumor-mongering, no facts to support anything" stuff in the blogs is exactly the right move. When there's an actual story it can be reported. When there's not an actual story and it's just speculation based on something posted on a website, the blogs are exactly the right place to handle it.

  2. I hear what you're saying, Jer, but if Newsarama really wanted to do journalism with a capital J, they'd go pursue stories like Dixon's the way investigative journalists would do it.

    a) report the story
    b) attempt to contact Dixon for a comment
    c) attempt to contact DC for a conmment

    Or the whole TokyoPop thing. That's a great story to investigate. They have the money now to hire reporters to do these more in-depth stories, no?

    But there are just too many things on that site that read like either a press junket or "link bait".

    Now, they had used the blog in the past as a counterbalance to that. But, it's completely obscured and downplayed on the site.

    You can't approach news in such a way as you'll never offend anybody with it.

  3. When the Blog in question is featuring a column by DC's president, I wouldn't imagine the 'Rama is chasing the story very hard. Especially when a reader is directed to "ask Chuck Dixon" by one of the staffers.

  4. "When the Blog in question is featuring a column by DC's president, I wouldn't imagine the 'Rama is chasing the story very hard."

    didn't even think about that.

  5. My biggest problem with the new Newsarama is that I can't actually find new comic related articles anymore. I have no clue where to look for the damn things. Is it the box you see when the page loads? Is it the "Features" things underneath? Am I missing them being posted somewhere else together? Who knows, but its all very web 2.0 and pretty so there's that I guess.

    Please God, give me a site with a bunch of comic articles down the middle of the page back.

  6. i didnt even see the blog comment about dixon.

    CBR had it front and center with the cover of Robin holding Batman.

    Honestly, over the past few months I have gone to CBR more because of their recaps on comics in media every day, and their X-Position interviews.

    Then when the NEW Newsarama hit, I basically stopped going.

    Now the only thing I check is Blog@ because it is sometimes funny, but that's about it and only every few days.

    Honestly my morning goes:

    Occasional Superheroine
    Update my blog.

    newsarama used to be right after CBR, but now its pointless.

  7. "When the Blog in question is featuring a column by DC's president, I wouldn't imagine the 'Rama is chasing the story very hard."

    Paul Levitz's occasional posts have nothing to do with how the blog covers DC-related stories. For instance, we covered the Siegels v. Warner Bros. story regularly and thoroughly.

    "Especially when a reader is directed to 'ask Chuck Dixon' by one of the staffers."

    I'm that staffer. Considering the reader's complaint about the "fluff" and "random stuff," and that the question was about Chuck Dixon's announcement, I think it's reasonable to suggest he ask Chuck Dixon.

  8. If you want comics people to keep talking to you, I'd imagine your first impulse is to not go airing their dirty laundry in public.

    Newsarama is a glorified fan-forum. They're playing it safe, and you can say that's a bad thing if you want, but businesses have to start somewhere, and if that means kissing a little ass here and there to get the big boys on-side, then so be it. The alternative is to forever be a fansite full of people issuing death-threats to Dan Didio because Batgirl has a huff in some comic no-one reads anymore.

    With success and maturity, Newsarama might become essential reading for those interested in the comics industry, but it's not there yet.

  9. I couldn't even find the story at Newsarama. CBR had it though.

  10. I know every time a website does a major change most people bitch because they don't like change, but in this case it's justified. Newsarama was always fanboy-ey, but now it's a uselessly confusing jumble of all geekdom. I don't care about friggin' Kung Fu Panda or Stargate, I went to the site for comic book news. Back to CBR and Journalista, this site has updated itself into irrelevance.

  11. Right on, Valerie. And right on, Paperghost. I mean, I'm curious about how this went down. Obviously it was suddenly.

    And didn't Dixon just bring off the triumphant Spoiler return? What the hell happened (in the immortal words of Steve McQueen's character in The Sand Pebbles)?

    When you call your site Newsarama, is it unreasonable for a reader to expect... I dunno... NEWS on said site? They don't have to speculate or report rumors. All they have to do is state the fact that Dixon issued a terse statement on his message board that he was no longer employed at DC in ANY capacity, then make a couple of phone calls to try to get confirmation or reactions from people involved. A quick site update to report the results, even if it's a "No Comment."

    That's called journalism.

    That shouldn't offend their DC connections, or at least it wouldn't in any other world besides the incestuous/chummy/cultlike atmosphere of "comics journalism."

  12. I just read what they put on their blog. Now what's so hard about putting that on the front page? Why do you have to go to a blog to get "news" on a site that purports to cover comic book "news?"

    Talk about hedging your bets and covering your asses. Wimps.

  13. I'd imagine they're probably just trying to gather the facts before posting a full article on the main site. Blog@ has been better at getting breaking news up since its inception. As a guy that reads both, I don't see this as an indicator of anything, really.

    That said, I really want to know what this Dixon/DC break is about, so I'm hoping they get something together soon.

  14. Considering the reader's complaint about the "fluff" and "random stuff," and that the question was about Chuck Dixon's announcement, I think it's reasonable to suggest he ask Chuck Dixon.

    And I think it's flippant and unprofessional. Guess we'll just agree to disagree.

  15. Comics journalism is super-tough, I'd imagine, because you're covering a small industry crowded with people who want "in."

    I look at video game news sites that have reviews, features, and news, and I see that they're able to take a much harder and "news-ier" stance than comics journalism mainly because the industry is far bigger. The reason I compare the two is because they're similar in specialization, but hugely different in terms of money, number of people, sales, etc. In video games, you have journalists who can afford to piss off industry people, or take a hard line on facts and news, because the industry depends on the media to get the message out there. There are only a few outlets that are trusted and worthy of attention, it would seem.

    Comics, however, are filled with people who want to "break in," and based on the past practices of places like Wizard, "comics journalism" has been proven to be a place where that can happen. Because of this, industry-folk know they can ignore or stonewall anyone they like, thereby keeping the cycle of press releases and fluff-pieces going. Once the industry sees the need for sites, this will change.

    Think about it: if Newsarama just shut down tomorrow, would it really be that hard to find comics fans and reviewers trumpeting their opinions loudly on some other site? No. The industry's too insular to really get anything resembling real news. Until this biz blows up in a big way, I think it'll remain that way.

  16. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Frankly, Val, I don't see anyone else in the media doing any better of a job on this story. They all reported that Dixon made his statement on his own forums, and that neither he nor DC have any further comment about the matter at this time.

    "And even if there isn't a lot of solid news surrounding the story at the moment besides his terse statement on the forum, there should be something -- a recap of all he's done, of his current projects -- and yes, even speculation."

    Counterpoint: Do we really need a recap of Dixon's nigh thirty year career? No. Do we really even need a scorecard of recent works? Perhaps to let fans know there are creative team changes coming, but then again, I think we can wait on that and include it when official word of the new teams is presented.

    What's to speculate? Why he and DC parted ways? Frankly, that's their business, and they're welcome to it. If they want to come forth with reasons and air dirty laundry that's their business, too, but I think it's pretty clear they don't want to, so do we really need 'industry media' shooting their mouths off and collective fandom talking out their ass about it? No.

    Next question - Who will be replacing Dixon? That will be announced soon enough. So why speculate? All that's doing is stirring the wasp's nest. "Gee did Writer X get Dixon axed to get the title? Or are they just the scapegoat creator that fans are going to bitch about for replacing their 'fan favorite'?"

    *Yawn* Somebody wake me when there's actually something worth discussing.

    So maybe Newsarama's got it right after all by merely having a blog link.

  17. There's an extremely interesting discussion here. The original poster nailed it, he / she really did.

    Matt Brady said:

    "Also (3) - finding the content is as easy as ever. It's all under the Comics tab. I'm not meaning this in an insulting way, but if you're so frustrated with not finding as much comics news as you'd like when you go to, re-set your bookmark to . That, for all intents and purposes, will still be the "old" Newsarama that you knew and loved, without that pesky movie and television news."

    So I went there.

    You know what? I still didn't know where I was supposed to be looking.

    There's a box with Comic Features. There's a "Latest Comic Headlines" thing beneath that, so that looks promising. Except to the right there's "Latest Headlines" with more stuff.

    Under *those*, there's two more sections, "More Headlines", "Hot new comics of the week" and then, down at the bottom, something called "Spotlight Destinations" which seems to have some comics stuff jumbled in with videogames or films or something.

    I think I speak for everybody when I say, "Wha?"

    I'm quite happy to never go there again, because I have absolutely no idea what that page is supposed to represent. It doesn't help that some of the content from each bit seems to be replicated in the other sections leading to yet more confusion. I never thought I'd see the day when a site about comics would be more confusing than the comics themselves, but wow. There it is.

  18. Stray thoughts:

    New Newsarama is cycling through "spoke with," "stops by," "sits down," "talks," "tells us," and "caught up" pretty quickly. Unsure if the solution is to get a larger thesaurus or to post a wider variety of articles.

    The "Ask Dixon" thing... Comics is possibly the only industry where reporters and the public have nearly equal access to the professionals. Sort of odd when you think about it.

    There are ways to be a news site without doing the breaking news thing. Perhaps Newsarama will figure one of them out eventually.

  19. Just read the CBR article on Dixon...
    they asked Dixon for a comment
    they asked DC for a comment
    they didn't bury the story
    they provided background information on the story, and explained why it was newsworthy

    that's how it's supposed to be done

  20. Newsarama didn't "bury the story" either, Val. Blog@ (which runs itself) ran the news as soon as they had it, and Newsarama proper ran an article as soon as they'd done the legwork. I don't represent Newsarama in any way and I like CBR as much as the next person, but your attacks here seem entirely baseless and confusing.

  21. Dean, I was FAR from the only person who noticed

    a) The lack of the official headline on the Dixon story

    b) That a reader, when asking further about the story in the comments section, was told that "he should ask Chuck Dixon himself" -- which is not his job, because he is the reader, not the journalist

    c) That Blog@Newsarama -- as well as other community elements -- were downplayed on the site in favor of either "press junket" or "link bait" stories -- when they were about comic books at all.


    d) That many of these issues were mysteriously addressed the day after not only me but many many other readers complained.

    I did a Twitterscan search yesterday on the word "Newsarama" and the majority of the people Twittering about it had complaints about the new model. That's not an exaggeration, that's a fact.

    The fact is, they need to listen to the complaints, gauge whether they are valid (or numerous) enough, and then change or not change accordingly.

    And while you say you don't represent Newsarama, their blog has done several very favorable posts about you over the years:

    So while I respect that you disagree with me, I find the fact that you write off my claims as *entirely baseless* to be a bit disingenuous.

  22. I can see not liking the new design (while I do), but I think I just respect that Blog@ is a separate entity from Newsarama proper. I think the Blog@ group is better/faster/stronger (and yeah they seem to like my internet antics, that doesn't make me affiliated with them). And I see their response the next day as a sign that they ARE listening.

    I still think your criticism that Newsarama 'buried' the story by putting it on their blog site (which is run by a different staff) is unfounded. I think the world of you and your work, but I just don't see where you're coming from here. Guess we'll just have to disagree on this one.

  23. Dean, I don't think Newsarama tried to bury the Dixon story. I think it wasn't even on their list of stories they wished to cover.

    What they were, in my opinion, trying to bury is the blog itself. And if you like the blog and its writers, it is something you yourself should be concerned about.