When it comes to anime news, the obvious choice to follow is Anime News Network, but every so often trends emerge that try to dethrone the site in this category. A few days ago, ANN made a daring move, which I will address later, that basically prompted the anti-ANN crowd to sit around the bonfire and gossip how unreliable the service is, how immoral its actions were, or that better alternatives exist, such as Twitter users who do this news shizz as a hobby. I feel a need to speak up here because I’ve been on their side of the fence, and let me tell you how wrong these people are.
Let’s go back, eight years or so, to a point in time when ANN was truly struggling to bring out timely and decently written, factual news. I wasn’t exactly a fan back then. What first set me off about their reporting was that they used firebrand language when writing articles about risque adult game adaptations. Regardless of what you may think of their news articles right now, you are probably reasonable enough not to compare them to Sankaku Complex or some crap site like that, yet ANN was actually thinking about going down that path, as confirmed at the time by one of their current staffers. After Egan Loo took over the news department, things turned to better considerably, but that brief period of shitty and tardy writing before that inspired many folks, including myself, to delve into the world of so called anime journalism.
My interest in it grew rapidly because I was already writing anime news for a local fan site. I can honestly say that I was able to capture and publish most news faster than other alternatives of my class, but I beat ANN in speed on a regular basis as well. It just so happens that you can beat Egan Loo and his anime news minion team if you have too much time on your hands. Having a lot of zeal and abusing the crap out of RSS feeds and site scraping can help too. I did this repeatedly for two-to-three years or something like that before I finally burned out. At one point in time, my head started hurting because of information overload. I thought to myself, is waking up early and checking a ton of RSS feeds, translating and guesslating Japanese just so I could write the damn articles really worth the little satisfaction I get from the practice? Sure, some people benefited from the services I provided, but I didn’t. Sure, it was a dream of mine to work in the business, but it seemed impossible for my circumstances. If you want to succeed and get paid to do this shit for a living, you have two choices: either beat ANN at their own game and create a more popular anime news site, or join them. You can ask the writers of the late Anime Vice website which is a more stable choice. In either case, trumping ANN is out of the question.
I’m sure the game has changed considerably since I stopped caring about it all, but why would you want to waste your time doing something a dedicated news team is already doing? To put a nail to the coffin, apparently ANN got themselves a guy who screens unreleased Japanese magazines for new information. In an age where it’s hard to know who is the primary source, because news sites basically copy each other all the time, this is what I’d call journalism! And screw people who think what they’re doing is highly unethical. Unless ANN doesn’t want to become just another shill for the Japanese anime industry, this is what they should continue to do. Anybody would have used such a source if they had had the chance to. Anime News Network has many flaws, such as their editors being colossal pole-moving hypocrites, especially when it comes to piracy-related topics, but they deliver fairly accurate news on time, always with an abundance of additional information, and if they happen to screw up, they fix it promptly and provide a history of changes, so you can gloat on their slip-up all you want. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Twitter, or with bloggers that do the same thing ANN does. Because there’s no editorial or check-up process possible, a one-man team posting hastily on his or her Twitter account usually brings about more frequent errors. But the biggest problem with Twitter is that content on it is transient and not meant for it to be stored indefinitely, or easily referenced for later use.
In short, people should just chill about ANN and give credit where credit is due. Also, here’s a dirty little secret not many ANN haters are likely to admit–they all use ANN as their backup option. That’s how reliable they are.