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5 August, 2008 / Erik

Comic-Con Wrap Up Pt. 2

Over at io9, a story about the Con hitting critical mass has spawned a discussion about press access and crowding. Here’s one comment from bonniegrrl that gave me a nice big think:

Here’s the deal. The press (and I’m one of them most of the time) already gets access to things the public doesn’t — press junkets, cast/crew/director interviews, sneak peeks, and so on.

Comic-Con isn’t a gigantic press junket. It’s a thank you to the fans who made these franchises thrive. It’s a way to build hype among future fans. It’s a way for Joe/Jane blogger to see firsthand the behind-the-scenes elements of their favorite TV shows, movies and comics.

This is a totaly, utterly, fair point.

However, it leaves out the fact that for a lot of the press, Comic-Con is as much a job for them as it is for the exhibitor. If they can’t cover their assigned panels, they lose money. Same as an person who can’t sell their books because the truck is stuck on I-5.

These pressures are not felt as strongly in the comics panels. The sour feelings members of the press have all stem from the larger media panels occuring in the bigger halls and ballrooms. Here, we return to bonniegrrl’s statement: it’s not a press junket. This is true, but the presence of the press can’t be ignored. Now that they have invaded Comic-Con, they have to be dealt with in some way. They need to see the panels they’ve been asked to cover and the fans need to experience them. So I offer a simple solution: a major event press room.

I can tell you all I care about when I’m covering a convention is a place to put my tape recorder and a spot to write notes. Whether or not I’m in the same room with, say, the cast of Battlestar Galactica or the Office is inconsequential to me in that environment. An off-site place where I can plug my recorder into an audio feed and watch the panel from a monitor is a perfect substitute for being there. In some ways, it’s better because I can get my work done and a fan who really, really wants to be there can have my seat in Ballroom 20.

Keep in mind this solution is for the larger media panels. There are the ones that are contributing to the undercurrent of press disgruntlement. Covering a comics related panel is much easier in terms of access, and most likely none of the trully disgruntled press are covering them. However, that segement of the press is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that little bit of consideration will make coverage smoother and better.


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