ANN is the second worst anime site on the internet

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:

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.)

Comments (41)

  1. Waryas wrote:

    >(Oh, and by the way, the worst anime site on the internet is Shitkaku Complex. Nothing else even comes close.)
    Fixed for accuracy.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 12:29 #
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for writing this article. I agree with you one-hundred percent. ANN tries to act like the USA Today or Wall Street Journal of anime when in fact it’s just a large blog, no different than the thousands of other blogs out there. I guess the difference is that ANN has been around for a long time, so ignorant people automatically view it as reliable.

    One thing that bugs me the most about it is how so much of it’s advertising revenue comes right from the anime companies themselves. I haven’t seen them release any official numbers (though when Geneon went down, one of the staff wrote in the forums that ten percent of advertising came from Geneon), but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the vast majority of their ads are from the anime companies themselves. I wonder if this bothers anyone else as much as it bothers me… the claims of being a neutral news organization, yet relying predominantly on the businesses it seeks to report in order to make money.

    I completely agree with you about their lack of source-labeling (ala “from 2ch”). Talks from 2ch and Moonphase should never be considered news (how often does real, official news break in English-speaking equivalents like 4chan or Gaia Online?). But if they insist on citing these rags, they should at least reveal the direct link. An ANN staff member noted to me privately that they often don’t link directly to those particular sources because one, they may later be revealed as unreliable (wtf?!), and two, ANN wants people who discuss the news to link to ANN itself.

    I also totally agree about Shitkaku Complex. I think I’ve seen ANN and Shitkaku linking to each other’s news stories before, lol.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 15:44 #
  3. pem wrote:

    got a prob with ANN 69′in the R1 companies? been like this for years bro.

    Their encyclopedia is useful but i haven’t browsed the site since 5 years ago when i discovered:

    1. fansubs of many series are available for free
    2. they always come out before R1 dvds
    3. many marginal series that won’t get official translations get fansubbed

    haven’t read any of their industry circlejerking since, unless linked to over irc.

    (p.s. i fuckin hate sankaku too, goddamn)

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 16:06 #
  4. Adam wrote:

    I think the hate for ANN is widely known but people just dun like to talk about it.

    Maybe they’re afraid of offending them or something. Dunno.

    Blogs keep them in check tho which is good. More blogs = more news = less we hear from ANN directly.

    I’ll hop on the shitkaku hate train too and say i hate them also, tho sadly to say i used to subscribe to them but i unsubscribe when i found out that half of their news is made up.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 19:06 #
  5. I’ve been reporting news in a professional capacity for almost four years before I was given my anime blog as a gift last year through the startup I manage.

    I’m an outsider and I’ve been running the blog for awhile, my goal is to be better than ANN.

    If I could get more sites like yours to work with me by visiting and linking to me, I know I can be better than they are.

    For too long, ANN has been a hub of hypocrisy and contradiction while they have the balls to claim that what they do is journalism.

    I want to change that and would like to extend a hand in partnership.

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 21:01 #
  6. TheFluff wrote:

    >>5
    cool story bro

    Monday, June 1, 2009 at 21:14 #
  7. psuedonymous wrote:

    At least Sankaku is far more hilarious to read than ANN.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 09:58 #
  8. jpmeyer wrote:

    I’ve seen about 5 reasons so far for why Sankaku Complex is the anime worst site on the internet. I’m sure there are more:

    1) endless contextless pr0n
    2) blatant SEO trolling garbage
    3) stealing fanart
    4) making up news
    5) faulty sourcing

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 16:40 #
  9. psuedonymous wrote:

    >Stealing fanart
    ORIGINAL CONTENT DO NOT STEAL? Really? The others I can see though.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 23:19 #
  10. Oh wow. I’ve always hated ANN because of their backlash in the Answerman columns but all this is new to me. Thanks for the info!

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 06:55 #
  11. marukoda wrote:

    >Why is this shit so popular?

    I guess it’s because of the awesome anime database. When I have to check seiyuu and dubbers, I always go there.

    >(Oh, and by the way, the worst anime site on the internet is Sankaku Complex. Nothing else even comes close.)

    Man, Sankaku Complex posts TITS.
    That’s its purpose, and it’s pretty good at it.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 01:24 #
  12. Miha wrote:

    I’ve pretty much changed my opinion on ANN after witnessing the horror that can be (Sankaku). I used to be very vocal against ANN, but I had good reasons for doing so. Their reporting has changed for the better over the years. Perhaps it was due to constant criticism or perhaps the anime blogosphere changed them or both. They used to spin their news pretty good, trolling eroge and moe fans–basically they knew what buttons to push, something even their volunteers had stuff to say against them. I remember those days fairly well, but this is no more. Instead of having senior editors and whatnot go over their news entries like they did in the past, they now have one, tops two people writing their news, and luckily it’s not Zac Bertschy or some random asshat.

    The reason they repost MoonPhase and 2ch is because, well, if you were into this anime news business, you’d know that they are in fact reliable sources most of the time. 2ch only has one specific thread where most news is gathered, and the reason they don’t link to specific posts is because these threads get purged not long after they reach the 1000-post limit. There’s another 2ch board where they get their other news. This one is interesting because every now and again ANN posts certain news articles with no source. What ANN does is they browse this board, which is basically just another human aggregator of other news posts, report the news, but if it’s linked from an obscure source that they usually don’t link back to (like major Japanese news sites etc), they basically make the news their own and don’t source it. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but it was at least 6 months ago.
    When it comes to certain news items, like recent Kadokawa trolling, posting unresolved stories can stir up lotsa shite, then again it opens room for a certain merit of speculation and, consequently, discussion, which is a good way to engage the community. Proto anime news blogging can be a very underappreciated practice in the English-speaking fandom. ANN’s news certainly don’t make up the bulk of their traffic, this is something we can all agree on.

    I do take issue with their seasonal anime fansub-powered previews though. I’m not bothered by the fact that they use fansubs, but because they make good money with them, while they maintain the official stance of not having an official stance on anime piracy. This is worse than being a hypocrite IMO.
    Another thing is their Encyclopedia. You have to admit that without it they would be nothing, but it’s a pretty sweet deal, and if they managed to enslave encyclopedist helpers, then props. They do employ at least one encyclopedist regularly, I believe.

    ANN has their faults and there’s room for improvement, but I think it’s much better than what the anime blogosphere currently offers. What’s tolerable… AnimeVice is basically Gia and I’m sick to my stomach from her writing, then we have Zepy of Canned Dogs, which is IMO the most informative blog on the scene, but even he doesn’t write about everything. That’s it. Every other blog is a repost of a repost or not very consistent. So I rather take the PR-styled ANN news and just ignore certain issues, like overusing the term “green-lit”.

    I have to say, fansubbers overreacted a bit to this “leak” terminology. Quite frankly, I believe news media in general shouldn’t be offering criticism or their own spin on things, they just need to present all the different angles to viewing a story (something ANN failed to a degree in this case) and let the reader/viewer take their own stance (lolling at idiots over at Sankaku). But I wouldn’t be so sure that the industry has much of a grip on the site as some lunatics like to claim. FUNimation is important to them because it’s one of their last anime-related advertisers, so they could easily ignore the One Piece incident (as they did with an earlier episode of Phantom) and probably keep things quiet. Maybe Toei wouldn’t have noticed!

    Friday, June 5, 2009 at 11:15 #
  13. lolno wrote:

    Miha said:
    Instead of having senior editors and whatnot go over their news entries like they did in the past, they now have one, tops two people writing their news

    And this is a good thing… why? Fewer people writing the news = fewer viewpoints = less diversity in the topics and in the reporting slants. And in case you didn’t notice, they still do spin the news. It’s rife with industry/advertiser-favored press-release types of announcements.

    Miha said:
    they are in fact reliable sources most of the time

    lol right

    Miha said:
    the reason they don’t link to specific posts is because these threads get purged not long after they reach the 1000-post limit

    Why is this a good reason not to link to something? Every other anime blog out there provides links. I think it simply goes back to the whole “we want to be the source and have people link to us” mentality already mentioned. Fuck that.

    Miha said:
    but if it’s linked from an obscure source that they usually don’t link back to (like major Japanese news sites etc), they basically make the news their own and don’t source it

    I’d like to see a real news source try and get away with this.

    Miha said:
    I do take issue with their seasonal anime fansub-powered previews though. I’m not bothered by the fact that they use fansubs, but because they make good money with them, while they maintain the official stance of not having an official stance on anime piracy.

    Indeed. But I think their official stance is pretty clear, even though they try to hide it with their neutrality bullshit. Actions speak louder than words. After all, they don’t allow discussion and posts of anything related to fansubs anywhere. They will only allow fansubs when it lets them to make money from the fansubs’ content, as you mentioned with the seasonal previews.

    Miha said:
    ANN has their faults and there’s room for improvement, but I think it’s much better than what the anime blogosphere currently offers.

    There are lots of great anime blogs out there that aren’t “news blogs” but that nonetheless will write about recent events and news. No, they don’t report on everything, and yet neither does ANN, but they often cover news that ANN doesn’t want to report, and getting news from independent bloggers with no obligations to the R1 industry and advertisers is quite refreshing.

    P.S. Everyone needs to stop mentioning “Shitkaku” by name. Doing so only drives up their page ranking.

    Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 22:46 #
  14. Miha wrote:

    @lolno: Let’s say you write a news entry or a report, then it goes through the senior editor (like Zac Bertschy), and he changes it the way he sees fit. It’s a good thing they stopped doing this for proto news because it only slowed them down. No, I’m sure they have more than two news writers, but not for Japanese proto news. I wasn’t too clear on this.

    About 2ch, I actually wanted to correct “most of the time” to “99% of the time, if the person writing the news knows what to look for.”
    Other blogs also don’t link to 2ch’s Shin bangumi wo aota-gai threads, but most of the good ones (Canned Dogs, Moetron, Can You Moe?) do post source images that get posted in it. Those images also get purged fast because Japanese image hosting providers suck. So not linking back to specific 2ch posts (from that thread!) doesn’t have anything to do with them wanting people to link to them. It still doesn’t excuse them for other news that get posted on 2ch though.

    Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 07:54 #
  15. FunStorm wrote:

    And what site do you consider as best source of news for english speaking ppl?

    Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 20:31 #
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    Join the war against ANN:

    http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Anime_news_network (NSFW!)

    Down with ANN! Anonymous never forgives and never forgets.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 00:16 #
  17. zrdb wrote:

    My biggest problem with AAN is that they’re a bunch of hypocrites-I got bannded for saying “fansubs” 3 times.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 02:21 #
  18. Tan wrote:

    WTB detailed post why sankaku = worst website

    (just for the lulz :P )

    Monday, November 2, 2009 at 17:56 #
  19. dude wrote:

    Sankaku Complex is a good lulz, pr0nz and anime website. Is not a happy anime news site, kids. Now are you gonna say wikipedia is a bad anime encyclopedia because it has too many not anime articles? XD

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 23:00 #
  20. Whatever wrote:

    2ch is the worst Japanese site. Too many NEET and Hikikomori making the Japanese internet scene worse. The users are essentially DNQ-ed. Japan is gone with with 2ch, I believe.

    Sankaku Complex has too many anti-Korean/Chinese racists. This is essentially an 2ch propaganda organ in English.

    ANN should be closed for having low quality news articles continuously.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 06:35 #
  21. lol the war againat ann.. What is a better alternative to ANN?

    Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 00:09 #
  22. Jay wrote:

    “What is a better alternative to ANN?”

    Every other collective resource out there? Shit do you have to be guided by hand to take a piss in the bathroom stalls? Oh nice netflix e-mail viral bro.

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