Some of you might have heard about a site called animenewsnetwork.com (I wrote a bit about them in my last post). As the name indicates, it is a site that aims to publish anime news (lol); in fact it claims to be the internet’s most trusted anime news source (I wonder who they asked trusted them). A reliable news source to me is one that does its own research and journalism, and checks as many sources as possible. ANN, unfortunately, does not do this.
Claiming ANN does journalism is like claiming fansubbers create anime. ANN:
- Copies R1 industry press releases; usually verbatim, without comment or criticism of their content
- Translates 2ch gossip and Moonphase comments and reports them as “news”
- When they do the above, they invariably cite the source as “2ch” or “Moonphase comments” and link to the respective site’s front page, which makes it about as easy to check the source as if they had cited “the internet” as the source
- Bowdlerizes English blog posts/other news site posts and reports those too as news
- Trolls people in general and fansubbers in particular with snarky comments in the Answerman column
- Makes unpaid volunteers earn advertising money for them by maintaining their anime database
- Writes season previews that are obviously based on warez/fansubs (don’t try to tell me all of your season preview writers live in Japan and speak Japanese, ANN) while having an official position amounting to “fansubs are the root of all evil”
- Builds the entire site layout around gigantic R1 industry ads
- Refuses to publish anything remotely industry-critical since it would hurt their advertising income (for example, they have not published anything about the fact that Funimation outright lied in a press release recently)
- Accuses people calling them out on their bullshit of being tinfoil-hatting conspiracy theorists (Danish)
Most news sites would at least try to pretend they are neutral and independent. ANN does not. Most news sites would be at least vaguely ashamed of doing very little but bowdlerize second-hand sources (blogs, moonphase comments, 2ch gossip, etc etc). ANN does not seem to be.
If you look at the last ten main news items at ANN’s front page right now, you get the following:
- Moribito Returns to Adult Swim — At Least in Repeats
- Vaguely rewritten English livejournal post plus some links to older ANN news. Original first-hand source linked to inline but not cited as source.
- Japanese Box Office, May 9-10
- Translation and currency conversion of a Japanese box office listing plus some very brief comments.
- Fullmetal Alchemist Not Streaming from Funimation.com (Update 2)
- Information about a link on Funimation’s webpage is not currently working plus some links to older news items. Updates with more information and the fact that the link is working again contributed by people who seem to be volunteer outsiders.
- Funimation Cancels One Piece Simulcast (Update 2)
- Verbatim copy of a Funimation press release. No mention of the fact that said press release contains at least one blatant lie. Updates contain reports that links elsewhere are broken, too.
- Key’s Angel Beats! Anime Promo Videos Streamed
- Presumably a translation of a 2ch post plus some links. Source cited as “2channel” with link to the front page and nothing else, so original source is impossible to check.
- GTO: Shonan 14 Days Marks Return of Great Teacher Onizuka (Updated)
- Another presumed translation of a 2ch post plus two sentences or so of background and licensing info. No useful source, as usual.
- M and N, Heart no Kuni no Alice Listed by Amazon.ca
- Bowdlerized English blog post that states that Amazon is listing something that may or may not be released by Tokyopop. No link to original firsthand source (Amazon).
- One Piece’s Newest Episode Leaked Before Japan’s Debut (Updated)
- A considerably more accurate portrayal of the “Funimation debacle” events. No mention of Funimation’s lie about “strict security measures”. No source cited other than Tofusensei and some other third party; presumably because the actual source (Tokyotosho/word on the IRC street) is unquotable by a Serious Business news outfit since they couldn’t possibly have contacts with those dirty fansubbers.
- Anime Network Taken Off Comcast, Put on DirecTV (Updated)
- Rewritten press release/official forum post plus a few sentences of background info.
- Gokusen the Movie’s Trailer Streamed Online
- Slightly rewritten notice about a new trailer, taken from an English news/blog site (including the exact same original source links), plus the usual three sentences with background info.
In summary: maybe two of these news items contain any actual journalism. The rest are copypasta and rewriting/translating news other people wrote about. The citing of sources is really wobbly at best; in several cases you either get no reliable source at all, or at best a link that gives you a link that gives you a link to something that could be a first-hand source.
Why is this shit so popular? Pure momentum? Probably. I guess once you’re big you don’t really have to do anything but sit on your butt, receive news tips, browse 2ch, check RSS feeds and rewrite stuff other people researched for you.
When I accepted that interview offer I had mostly one thing in mind, namely to troll Funimation. I could not in my wildest dreams have imagined how hilarious it would actually end up being given Funi’s amazing screwups, but neither could I have imagined what a golden opportunity of trolling ANN it would give me, either. At least that’s one thing I suppose I should thank ANN for.
Edit: by the way, I should mention that all of this raging doesn’t have anything to do with ANN’s apparent (apparent because they still haven’t replied to emails) refusal to publish that interview. I never really expected them to, given what I said in it.
(Oh, and by the way, the worst anime site on the internet is Sankaku Complex. Nothing else even comes close.)