So recently I came across the suscription link for Anime News Network. Evidently, they’ve started to sell advertising-light access to their Web site. At least according to this, you can turn off some banner ads and turn of those really dumb Kotera links all for the low price of US$3 a month or US$14 for six months or US$20 for a year.
Which of course raises the question, is ANN worth paying for? Like I’ve said before, I have a love/hate relationship with ANN. Not because they’re really horrible, but because they’re one of the best out there and they’re still mediocre.
And who am I to call them mediocre? I’m a reporter, or at least I wrote more than 300 articles for my college newspaper. I had the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle as a teacher. One of my mentors worked for the Asian Wall Street Journal. I’ve won at least one SPJ award. I’ve covered budget hearings, tuition raises, local businesses and am honestly a damn good reporter. Whether I’m a good writer may be another story, but I can spot a hole in a story fifteen feet away.
Case in point – The Eric Sherman interview. It’s one of the best pieces of journalism that I’ve seen come out of ANN. And it still has at least three problems with it. First is a general style issue. The Q&A format works great for fluff pieces about people that we really don’t care about, or rather we don’t need any real background for, like VAs, Directors or any other celebrity. But for an heavy piece of journalism it’s actually inviting the person to say whatever, without any moderation or fact checking. Like say, Sherman’s now infamous quote about Haruhi (if one-third of the people who downloaded the fansub had bought the DVD, it would have done much better.)
So how many units did Haruhi sell? Um… yeah, even with access to Vidscan we didn’t get those numbers. Nor did we get a comparison with a great seller like Fullmetal Alchemist. Instead, we get Sherman’s baseless word that it didn’t do well. Do I believe Sherman? Sure. Do I believe that Zac Bertschy knows enough about the industry to not let that slide? Sure. Should I have to trust that these two people wouldn’t lead me down the merry path? Good lord, no.
Hole number two would have been so simple to fix it would take maybe a half hour of research for ANYONE to do. The same point that I lauded Bertschy on, is the point he fails to provide facts yet again. The point about Anime TVs reviews being focused on Bang Zoom! dubs. He NEVER tells us which shows they were. He simply leaves it to the reader to do the research to make sure he’s right.
I hate to say it, but these are rookie mistakes. They’re mistakes I saw freshman J-students make. They aren’t mistakes I expect out of a professional news organization.
But that said, I cut ANN some slack. Why? Because they’re the equivalent of a trade magazine, the AARP magazine of anime, if you will. I want them to do better, but I don’t expect them to.
So that said, is having an ad-light version of ANN worth it? Well there’s the access to the “Community” forums, which I imagine is pretty much like the regular forums, only with less people. That might be good. But is it worth $3 a month. I don’t really think so.
About the only think I can see being worth the money is getting rid of the Kotera links. They aren’t really annoying, but they’re just so random, like it highlighted “cruise to the Bahamas” in the story about the NYAF cruise con. Why would I care about a Bahamas cruise when I’m reading ANN? It’s just bizarre.
But that said, I’m prepared to put my money where my mouth is. Starting this Friday, I will sign up for either a month or six month membership and tell you all about it. Maybe I’ll be surprised and think that it’s worth it. But I doubt I will.