Saturday, April 12, 2008

Umm… Why is ANN doing a Spring Preview?

So am I the only one who finds it a bit ironic that ANN is doing a "real time" preview of the Spring Season. Granted, it is news. And even if I disagree with their reviews, they do seem to do it every years. But they spend so much time and effort trying to convince people that downloading fansubs is wrong that somehow I don't think their reader base would be running out to download the fansubs of these shows.

I mean it might just be me, but aren't they making a profit off of doing those reviews. And doesn't it mean then that they're making a profit off of promoting the illegal downloading of shows, or at the very least promoting shows that may or may not actually come out in the United States (or anywhere for that matter.)

Yeah. Way to go ANN. Throw ethics to the wind, so you can drag in a few extra dollars.


LytHka said...

Not like they'll get sued for it, which is what keeps them going. In the end, more traffic for them. This is just part of their overall strategy, which is basically to take most of all web traffic associated with English anime fandom. They've taken their news reporting more seriously now that "web 2.0" journalism is picking up among anime bloggers; ANN used to be very sluggish in the protonews department. Anyway, nothing will change because the company's stance is based on laws (taking screenshots and all of that is considered fair use that can hardly make a case in U.S. court), yet opinions of their editors (which are not homogeneous) are based on personal ethics. It's a headlock debate because few of their critics have the moral ground for criticism, while the majority of their readers are on the "huggle system".

Scott said...

I also thought it was pretty weird... and also a little uncomfortable. I always pictured ANN as this whole separate entity from blogging, like they were the professionals and we are just the unwashed masses. But now that they are blurring that line, I'm think I'm losing some respect.

I think I just got a topic to write about next week. Thanks. ;-)

LytHka said...

ANN was a really smart "dot-com" company in how they created their content (even today protoblogs use ANN's encyclopedia). It was easier to claim pieces of the Internet a decade ago, although creating traffic was a bit more expensive. :/

Cameron Probert said...

@lythka - Wow. You know, I hadn't really noticed it up until now, but that is an excellent observation. It really does explain a lot about what's been going on over at ANN for the past year or so.

Although I have to ask, what's the "huggle" system? I think I know what you mean by that, but I want to make sure.

However, I do know that in other forms of professional journalism the editors aren't allowed an opinion (at least not on their own news station/paper). And when they have an opinion there it is the official opinion of the news source.

@scott - To be honest, I could do an entire page tearing into their professionalism. Especially lately. I mean Zac Bertschy's comments in the forum have been downright insulting to people who happen to have a different opinion. I mean these are his readers. Okay, not going to get on my high horse here.

LytHka said...

In early 2006, I had a private conversation with one of the people who wrote occasionally for ANN, and he told me how no news article goes public without a senior editor looking over it. Then sites like Anime News Service and blogs like Heisei Democracy, Moetron etc. started publishing anime news at blazing speeds. Something had changed in late 2007 because now it's quite hard to publish news before them, unless it's the weekend (most Japanese news comes out on monday). Their "Daily Briefs" aggregated news segments can't state more obviously that they want to be "the fastest" as their slogan suggests. Even when they're not the first ones to come out with a particular news, readers will follow sites that are consistent. Paid-for journalism provides that consistency.

Readers on the huggle system are basically people that appeciate ANYthing that's written, indifferent fanboys. Eh, I shouldn't have mentioned them; bloggers have more of those.

But here's more food for thought: Remember their recent interview with a fansubber? I've talked to that particular fansubber on some public IRC channel, and apparently he was told his interview was viewed by "about a million people". This was about a week after it was published. The interview was featured the same way this spring preview guide is, so you can imagine the magnitude of income it might generate. Bloggers who occasionally receive traffic from ANN can confirm what kind of numbers they generate. So yeah, a feature--based off illegal anime copies at that--may not be worth only a few bucks, that's why I have a problem with it.

Cameron Probert said...

@lythka - Now that is interesting. I mean on the one hand, I could see where reporting it would be news. But reviewing it isn't. Which is really what bothers me about it.

Well that and I want them to act like professionals, if that's what they claim to be. But... that's my own personal axe.

And I agree with you on the "huggle" system. I mean some blogs (especially the older, well established ones) do have some rabid fanboyism going on. But I tend to find that I get disagreed with just as much as I get agreed with.

But something interesting I've noticed in the ANN forums is that whenever anyone offers a different viewpoint than the reviewer there's an almost instant backlash, where they state "Well they're professionals." As if the other opinion is somehow less valid because they're getting paid to do this. So I'm kind of curious whether they're limiting dissenting voices so that they can increase their percieved credibility.

LytHka said...

Actually, they're less aggressive when someone disagrees with a reviewer these days than they used to be. I've been in a situation once when Zac jumped on me because I expressed a negative opinion about his writing style and Internet persona. It's basically a game of showing fangs, to put it bluntly - they don't if you don't. :) But yes, some bloggers that have hung out with him IRL expressed an opinion that he's "an elitist twat". :) Apparently he got really drunk at this podcaster party and started talking some crap which was later on restated on some podcast. *shrug*

Tsubasa said...

I think you've missed the point. ANN has never had an anti-fansubs policy as an entity; I think the open letter proved that. The opinions of Zac Bertschy are his own.

I think I saw someone post somewhere that they're not pro-fansubs, which had lead a lot of people to think they're anti.

sejanus said...

I think you are over-analysing it.

The way I see this: it's just news from Japan.

Nowadays, it seems that fans want more news, right away. They want their anime news and shows like if they were living in Japan. That's an after-effect of the internet world. And fansubs is an expression of that.

Lately, it seems that ANN has been putting efforts into providing more news from Japan. ANNtv has been giving us more interviews & backstage report from Japan and they even covered the Tokyo Anime Fair.

ANN is just trying to do a better job, give us, the fans, what we want: more information.

And what do the fans say about it? Not surprisingly, they're bitching.

Cameron Probert said...

@Tsubasa and sejanus - Okay, so I'm not going to flame your opinions because you're allowed to have them.

But... I have worked as a professional journalist. I have worked with professional journalists. And I am not being unfair with ANN. I just want them to behave like professional journalists. If they want to call themselves professional bloggers than I will accept whatever they want to do. If they want to call themselves professional opinion and review people, then that's fine too.

As long as they don't call themselves journalists. Because journalists have ethical codes. They care about credibility. They care about those things because THAT'S what is important.

First to have credibility there must be a division between the OP/ED desk and the News desk. Like there is at every credible professional newspaper. Right now there isn't. Zac Bertschy's title is not columnist. It is Executive Editor. It isn't even Opinion editor.

Second there has to be a line drawn somewhere. A review isn't news. I mean they might as well put a link to a bit torrent tracker up there and say well the new episode's out. They don't even tell us if THEY'RE paying for it. Which means that essentially they could very well be illegally downloading a show to tell other fans about it, so that they know what shows to download illegally. Um... where's the ethics in this. To top it off they're getting paid for it. So they're making money off of illegal shows. And as lythka pointed out, it's not some small chump change.

Third, I commend their efforts to be first, but I don't commend doing it while sacrificing ethics. If you think I'm over-analyzing fine.

Frankly, I'm not a "fan" of ANN. I'm a "fan" of good journalism. And I will commend good journalism, but I will not sit on my hands while bad journalism goes on. I will attack it. And I will attack it again. And I have no problems with attacking it.

And if you think I'm being unfair to them. Then I don't know what to tell you.