This is something I normally don’t think about but it is something I make decisions on everyday.
Just what is “covering the news” for anime? What is “anime news”? I mean let’s get it out of the way first, by anime I mean how I tag my posts by the moniker “modern visual culture.” It’s like why Genshiken is more about lounging around, a lifestyle and perspective, rather than just content–games, manga, anime, whatever. Culture sounds like the right term, but I don’t think it conveys the message in a direct, intuitive way.
But anyway, you know what I’m referring to by “anime news.” I think such kind of trivial game is what defines the coverage provided by Anime News Network. When it comes to the culture, though, that’s how everyone else covers the news. From ANN’s new “interests” posts to half the stuff on Sankaku Complex (as the other half is outright porn). I mean with Kotaku East, it’s already well within the same target.
When I started writing for Japanator back in ’08 I wanted to see a Gawker-style blog covering the news. The usual 2ch coverage blogs were really where most of the goods were at–in fact if we took that away the amount of online news for “anime” (which I will continue to use quotes for when used in this context) would drop by like, 75%. But in 2012 terms that isn’t really a problem. The time gap between when something hits 2ch and something hits our intrepid ANN news team to the time it hits the 9001 blogs that repost from the same group of blogs is trivial. I mean the REALLY big news break on twitter just as fast, these blogs merely provide text space beyond the 140th character.
Plus I would imagine most people reading that are more interested for IP they like and for overall amusement value. Well, I guess I’m going to ask the handful of people here: do you even care about “anime news”? Do you read it? Why do you read it?
I’m more inclined to think that there are a few modes in which we consume news. It’s therefore first order of business to cover news that satisfy these modes of consumption. Obviously it still can be informative even if people are just looking for some LULZ in their “animu newz”; some news need the right spin on them, and it’s up to a news site to put the right spin on them. I think that’s the biggest problem to “anime news” in general: I’ve not seen too many people crunching out these blurbs doing that. I mean I guess this is partly why Artefact gets readers.
By right spin I mean simply putting it in a way where it gets people to realize that there’s more to it. To do it in a way that doesn’t make you the laughingstock is not easy, and at least you would want to at least be banking it if people are going to look down on you. And to some extent ANN is just too tied up with its corporate interests to rock the boat much. Such is the catch-22 of hiring full-time writers. There’s no money in this business as far as I can tell, besides to basically work half way as an advertising agency, or as a social network/media piracy site, or something in between.
There’s nothing wrong with that per se, let me quickly add–anime (and game and manga etc) in English-language is a poorly, horribly covered thing. It can use all the ads it can get. But it becomes a limit in terms of actually covering the news. You can’t piss off Funimation, you can’t piss off the cons you sponsor, etc.
Personally I’m getting pretty tired of it. At least there is a distinct improvement over years past in terms of the overall primary news sites being able to elevate news from merely ads-disguised-as-news (even if it still happens). We have to accept that “anime news,” by default, involves some amount of that. But I don’t know what can be done; it seems nobody really gives it a damn.
What I want to see more, as I probably have mentioned elsewhere, is original coverage. I want to see more American/western news. I want to see more of, say, MAL covered by American sites than 2ch, LOL. I think this is exactly the problem that “anime news” coverage in English language have–we’re not shameless enough to dig everywhere for everything, and those who are shameless enough aren’t interested or is unable to do so (eg., porn). Curating the news in a way where we take the information we see everyday and repack them as “news” is ultimately what I want to see. I want to see a lifestyle being written up, where the pieces of new information such a news site bring us edifies us and tells us important things, but also make us aware what goes beyond just the grinding that happens to be the life of a poorly paid online blogger.
I guess it’s all about having the right narrative after all.
And this is not to say anything of features and editorials, which slinks over to a different kind of mindset.