So I read the PWCW roundtable thing, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t an actual conversation among the participants so much as them answering all of the same questions separately. It struck me as kind of odd, because MOCCA wasn’t that long ago, packed with people who would probably have interesting things to say about the past, present, and future of comics and graphic novels, not to mention ready availability of a bunch of PWCW writers who were either in attendance or are located in the New York City area. So why not gather seven or eight of them in a convenient watering hole, turn on the tape recorder, and do an actual roundtable?
I’ve got nothing against e-mail interviews, god knows, as I do them for my CWN column as often as subjects’ schedules permit. In this instance, though, so many people have spoken individually on the past, present, and future of comics that I think the real draw would have been the interaction among different personalities who represent different aspects of contemporary comics.
So I was relieved when I saw that Tom Spurgeon found that to be a problem as well. As bizarre as I found much of Michael Dean’s examination of on-line comics journalism in The Comics Journal, part of me wishes PWCW had launched prior to the conclusion of that series. I can’t shake the opinion that PWCW positions itself as the gold standard of online comics journalism (hardly a cage match to begin with), but if you point out relevant issues regarding PWCW’s reportage – potential conflicts of interest, factual errors, proofreading problems, what have you – you tend to get a response that suggests that, well, their intentions are good, so you shouldn’t nitpick so goddamned much, because who else is doing so much comics journalism in such a timely fashion? It’s not like they’re Newsarama. Jesus.
No surprise, then, that Spurgeon’s comments drew a response from PWCW co-editor Heidi MacDonald at her Beat blog. 1,300 words worth of response, actually, promoting the central thesis that there’s just not enough time in the day to proofread PWCW pieces thoroughly prior to their going to web:
“If you want to chastise us for bad proofreading that’s fine, but if you are the kind of anal ‘do as I say and not as I do’ type who can’t see the forest for the trees, I got two words for you: tough titty.”
Okay, here’s the thing, or one of the things. Not long ago, MacDonald posted a dead-on screed at The Beat about the journalistic failings of another comics news and commentary site. And while whatever problems there might be with PWCW don’t reach anywhere near the magnitude of the other situation, the bottom line is that journalistic standards are journalistic standards. Transparency and accuracy and thoroughness matter, even in the face of deadline pressure. And seriously, if you can write 1,300 words of passive-aggressive self-defense, you can certainly find the time to get Central Park Media’s name right. Can’t you?