Commentary: Want a quote? Accuracy Matters

UPDATE: My quote has been modified per my request, but I’m still in full disagreemnt with this article’s POV .

here’s a link, judge the views in it  for yourself.

Gotta say, I’m a little angry about a recent interview I gave to a weekly newspaper/online site.

The story was about the future of the  digital comics market, and what that will mean for the comics biz as a whole.

The reporter seems like a nice enough guy, and I don’t think he intentionally tried to misrepresent me, but the way he presented a quote from our interview lacked the exact context I gave for the flowery comment.

I was re-quoting Jonathon Hickman’s hilarious off the cuff comment in our recent WB podcast, that with all the new digital distribution companies trying to capture a chunk of this new potential comics  buying market, “There’s going to be a lot of blood in the water this year.” I told the reporter I think it will continue beyond this year, as the publishers and digital stores figure out this new way to sell comics.

However the reporter used this quote as an example to support another quote from a different interview subject, who worried that the whole comics market may collapse due to the intrusion of digital comics competing with paper versions of the same product. That offering the same product for a cheaper digital price would cannibalize the paper buying comics market.In very general terms, I suppose that’s a fair possible point, but not what Jon was saying, or what my re-quote represented.

Further, I disagree with that person’s view. The bigger comic publishers are being very cautious as to what they’re offering online versus the monthly paper issues, and the independent creators are taking advantage of this new market to get  better distribution for their product, then what the direct market/comic book shop owners may give them.

Not to mention that for many of the bigger comics companies the real money to be made is in the licensing of their properties for TV, Film, Games, and other products. As much as we love the books, that’s not really what’s making them the most profits. Comic stories will always be a great cost effective way to experiment with a character/property, and the introduction of the digital comic is just another storytelling tool.

I’m very certain I gave the full context of Hickman’s quote to the writer,because I think the question of who survives this change in the seller’s market of digital comics is part of the speculation of how this will all shake out. These are the same questions the music biz is still sorting out, more than 10 years after Napster and the rise of the MP3. But for whatever reasons, be they editorial or the writer’s own choice , putting the quote where he did was incorrect.

I only saw the piece after it was published, and did write to the reporter, explaining my problem with the quote. He seems to understand, and said he’ll try to correct it, but still I’m pretty disappointed.

Quotes are powerful, and should be used with great care, to make sure they are used accurately.To fit a quote around a different idea, is the kind of thing journalism teachers try to cure new students of in the first semester. It’s a rookie mistake, but it’s still wrong, and can hurt people.

To be clear, this isn’t a life or death topic, and in the great scheme of things nothing more than a momentary blip. But I feel misrepresented in this story. I’m mostly mad because I reject the entire direction of the article.

The potential digital comics market is a very good thing. Digital media is a reality that all media content creators have to realize is here, it’s not going away, and I truly believe in the long run it will only increase a potential audience and profits for any content providers.

So I’m here to say, should you see it,  I don’t stand by the article or the specious points it makes about the digital comics market. I won’t name the reporter, or link to the site or piece, because I’d rather see it come and go, like so many other news stories. But like many things online, it could stay posted for many years to come.

Just know, if you want me on your podcast, or write a story quoting me, please get what I say right, and make sure it’s in the proper context. I tend to ramble but usually back up my comments with the point I’m trying to make. Listening is a skill that all reporters should use when doing interviews.

Back to the fun stuff next time. Thanks for listening.


12 responses to “Commentary: Want a quote? Accuracy Matters

  1. I work in the newspaper inustry as a designer and I can understand how a journalist working in “paper” would interpret your quote as alarmist. Newpapers are very much losing ground to the digital “assault”, and it does feel like an assault. And I can see how a reporter working in “digital” would give it the same slant. It substantiates their efforts and sells well because the issue is sort of “hot” right now.

    Now you say it’s a “newspaper/online site” so if it’s both that makes the misquote confusing. Is it a daily? Then deadlines cause all sorts of mistakes to happen. I know, I’ve been responsible for more than one and we have a weekly deadline not a daily one. Is it an editorial article? In that case the writer is absolved for having editorialized.

    Good thing you contacted the reporter. They tend to appreciate the feedback. It helps their career in the long run. Our papaer usually piblishes a correction when these things happen.

  2. Jason, again I was very specific in my use of the quote. It had nothing to do with a general view of digital medias assault on print media.

    I’m not sure how you can understand the misquote, given you weren’t involved in the interview.

    I said many things about how digital comics entering the market is a ood thing for creators, publishers, and the readers.

    those ideas were not represented in this piece , only the negative POV of the reporter, and another interview subject.

    it was incorrect.

  3. Oh, it seems quite clear to me that the interviewer had a bias. I was just speculating why that might be. Specualting being the operative word.

    Didn’t mean to place the blame on you. My apologies if I came across that way.

  4. I’ll fess up, I’m the reporter in question and I do take full responsibility for the story. Since John’s not linking to it, I won’t, if he’s not wanting it to be seen by others then I won’t use his site to send you there.

    I have apologized and worked to correct the context of the quote. Having listened to both John’s interview with Hickman and my interview with John I think there remains a defense of the way I used the quote. But if John says it was used out of context, then I’m more than willing to agree. Misusing the quote was never my intention at all, and at the time I believed it was used correctly.

    I’ll preface my next bit by saying that I’m a huge fan of Word Balloon and while being Canadian I don’t know much about John’s sports reporting career, I do admire a great deal what he’s done with Word Balloon. It’s hugely disappointing to me that I’ve disappointed him with the article. His point of view is entirely justified, but having believed he’d be happy with it I was saddened to have disappointed someone whose work I admire.

    So I apologize for the mistake.

    What I do take issue with is the review of the rest of the article. My other interview subjects all seemed to feel that they were well represented in it, apart from the odd decision (not mine) to put images from Panelfly in the article when I interviewed If the article is negative towards digital comics, which I don’t agree that it is, it’s because (some) of my subjects were. It’s not an editorial, and I approached it as someone who so desperately wants digital comics to become a reality so that I can stop dealing with long boxes. However as a news story I don’t get to put myself in the story.

    My view is that one day comic publishers will have to decide if they’re selling paper or sequential art, just like record labels had to decide if they were selling plastic discs or music. The trouble is there is transitional period where that’s going to be difficult, and that’s going to be hard on retailers especially and the fate of retailers is something that publishers seem to be very careful in protecting currently.

    I’d extrapolate beyond that but that’s not why I’m here. Nor am I really here to defend the article. It’s what it is, and until I got an email from John I was quite proud of it and had gotten good feedback.

    Once again John I’m very sorry that you feel badly treated. That was never my intention. Getting to talk to you was such a thrill and I appreciate the time you gave me.

    – Jeffery Simpson

    • Hi Jeffery, sorry If I came on too strong, but given that I was re-quoting Jon Hickman, I felt doubly protective of getting his/my quote correct.

      As to the rest of your article, again I think the obvious answer to your question is comic publishers are providing content, and that’s no different than Newspapers TV, Film Music, or any other content creators are dealing with in this transitional period. The writing is on the wall, in terms of the eventual future of books, and print media.

      any intermediate business between a product/service provider and the consumers , like brick and mortar comic stores are subject to their business paradigm changing in resposnse to new technological advances.

      It happened to horse ranchers , who couldn’t rely on horse and buggies after the automobile was invented, and now it’s happening to print media.

      I welcome further discussion on this topic , and would even offer my show as a forum about it.

  5. My general feeling for how the article came out was that Jeffrey was saying 1) digital comics are changing the industry, and no one knows if that will be positive or negative (I believe positive); and 2) for digital comics to make real hay while the sun shines, we have to provide more value than a reproduction of the printed work.

    It certainly wasnt all sunshine and roses about the growth of digital, and I competely understand John’s lack of favor on the quote (glad it got adjusted).

    And while I am a big fan of PanelFly and their work, I was also a bit preturbed as to the use of their images when I was the interviewee. 🙂

    John, I would love the opportunity to discuss digital comics whenever/whereever you would like (even if its just over a cup of coffee).

    I think its imperative that the digital comic companies dont look at it as we are replacing print (the music space saw a shift from CDs to MP3s naturally — to this day, CD sales still dwarf digital sales) but providing additional ways for creators to connect with their fans. In music, live show ticket sales are the fastest growing segments as artists have begun to really understand how to use digital music sales to drive revenue.

    Im sure its no surprise that I spend a lot of time thinking about these exact things and truly enjoy the conversation that digital has created in the comic industry and community.

  6. John, again I’m glad we worked things out here, via telephone and so-forth. I’ll save my rebuttal, such as it is, for when we talk later.

    Again apologies for the initial problem, and I take full responsibility for any trouble that’s caused. I look forward to talking to you again, and hopefully this hasn’t totally soured you on print media.

    All the best.

    – Jeffery

  7. having read the article it seems quite clear to methat this was just a messy misunderstanding. Unfortunately it happens.

    Glad it’s worked out.

    Any chance we’ll get a podcast out of this? Would make for an interesting debate.

  8. Interesting that this is involving a quote originally from Hickman. I mean, if you’ve read Nightly News, surely you can see the humor here.

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