Anatomy of Poor Comic Reporting
Yesterday screenwriter Max Landis posted a Tweet claiming that Marvel was getting back the movie rights to Spider-Man from Sony. That tweet was later taken down, and followed up with:
But, before that happened, enough time had passed that the “joke” was picked up as actual news. I first came across my desk with a post from Bleeding Cool bringing up the Tweet, but more questioning why Landis posted it. A few hours after Bleeding Cool “broke the news” Cosmic Book News picked up on the story, treating it as actual news, though hedging their bets, Furious Fanboys reported it as rumor via Bleeding Cool. Cosmic Book News gave credit to Bleeding Cool for the original post. Today, Unleash the Fanboy, followed up on the news, as if it were true, using the screen cap from the Bleeding Cool article, but giving credit to Cosmic Book News. At the time of Unleash’s post, Landis’ admission it was a joke was up for around 12 hours, and the original Tweets deleted. The “news” was also picked up by Movie Pilot (with no credit), Yahoo UK (via Cosmic Book News), MoviePilot (with no credit), and many more. All the ones I looked at failed to update their article with Landis’ latest Tweet admitting it was a joke. Those last three examples were posted after Landis mentioned it was a joke. Luckily some sites saw through the crap, and debunked it like Slash Film.
The initial Tweet smelled of bullshit to begin with, but the fact it was picked up, and treated as fact by so many without 1) Actually going to the source, 2) Having no follow-up (ie just look at Landis’ Twitter feed), 3) Poorly giving credit to the original source, shows the slide that journalism has taken with the spread of social networking, and increase of link bait writing. The want to gain views, has lead to poorly thought out, and poorly researched articles, even ones a day late to the news. It’s fine to question why Landis Tweeted what he did, but to then report it as fact is irresponsible, and an outright lie. It hurts the credibility of the sites posting such information, and in general gives a black eye to everyone who covers the same topics.
We saw an uptick last year in the lead up to San Diego Comic Con where if you believed the internet, Bryan Cranston was Lex Luthor, Paul Bettany was Ultron, Cable, X-Force, Aquaman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman were all getting movies announced. All those sites that reported got clicks, drowning out REAL news. Unfortunately many of those sites continue to post bullshit articles based on nothing but wishful thinking.
By clicking on these “stories” we only encourage this behavior, by visiting these sites, we reward poor journalism. The lesson is, don’t feed the trolls, whether they’re posting to social networks, or the sites that report on them as fact.