June 25, 2008 by Rick Rottman
Comics journalism: Carrots, sticks, threats, and spankings
If you are a fan of reading any of the various comic book news sites or blogs, you need to check out the podcast from one of the panels held at the recent Heroes Con in North Carolina. The panel was entitled, “Covering Comics: Criticism, Reportage, and Gossip“. It was moderated by Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter. The panel was comprised of Johanna Draper Carlson (Comics Worth Reading), Matt Brady (Newsarama), Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), Tim Hodler (Comics Comics), and Carlton Hargro, editor of the local alt-weekly Creative Loafing.
After listening to the entire panel, I was the most impressed with Carlton Hargo and Johanna Draper Carlson.
By far the most interesting segment was when Matt Brady spoke about repercussions from comic publishers. It’s at around the 20:00 mark if you want to jump ahead. He pointed to two stories that he believed put Newsarama on the map. He mentioned the Siegel/Superman stuff and the DC Comics/Wildstorm deal. He stated there would be multiple hoops to jump through and there would be “repercussions” if those topics were covered today.
He then talked about “carrots and sticks” and “threats and spankings”. He went on to say that there have been many times where he has had to think about the long term picture before breaking a story. He admitted that he sometimes worries about repercussions from the publishers if he (Newsarama) is the first to break certain stories. He said that sometimes he has had to ask himself if it was more prudent to “hang back” and allow certain stories to break elsewhere — like a blog or a rumor column — and comment on the story then.
I felt uncomfortable listening to it on my iPod. I cannot imagine sitting in the room and hearing it in person.