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Spoiler etiquette - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Mar. 9th, 2007

10:27 pm - Spoiler etiquette

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From:johnckirk
Date:March 10th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
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Literally hundreds of media organisations worldwide have reported the news in question

Out of the first 20 results, item 7 (as of the time of writing) is an article about "Dodge's new super hero: The Avenger", i.e. a new car, and nothing to do with the recent death. Similarly, item 11 is a story about an exhibition of African men's dress and costume, attended by a guy who wrote the Captain America comic for a while. Item 18 is from a comics website, which is where I'd expect to read about the week's comics (i.e. I'd avoid it until I'd read those comics myself), and it's really talking about the reaction to the event from the big news organisations rather than actually reporting that news directly itself; in a similar way, I'd guess that lots of the local news sites are just repeating what they've heard on CNN. I haven't checked the full list of links, but I would be hesitant to say that there are actually hundreds of reports on this.

What else should the BBC and the rest of the media have reported, given that their judgement was that there would be significant interest in the story by the general public?

I don't really mind them reporting it, although if this was just a copy of a press release then I think they should state that clearly on the webpage. However, I do think that they should have waited for a while, to give people the opportunity to read the story "unspoilt" first. totherme wrote earlier: This may not be the "right" choice, but it's unlikely to even have occurred to the writer as a choice at all. That's what bothers me - the idea that the BBC would publish something without actually thinking about it.

However, to answer your question more directly, one useful piece of information would have been the issue number (Captain America #25) rather than just referring to "the latest edition". It's interesting that the article says "The latest edition will show the superhero dying" (my emphasis). That implies that they didn't realise the comic was actually available in shops yet, so they hadn't even given a 4 hour window for people to read it; they thought that they were announcing the news before it was possible for anyone to read the comic. Speaking of which, there's another idea - maybe the BBC should have tried to get hold of a copy themselves, so that they could read it before writing about it? Call me wacky, but that's the kind of basic research that I'd expect from a 9 year old writing a book report in English class, let alone a professional news organisation. If they'd sent someone along to the local comic shop, maybe it would then have occurred to them that the other customers would like to read the story without having the ending blurted out in advance.

I think the real problem here is the perception that news reporting is a race: you have to report things quickly, otherwise you'll get "scooped" by the competition. If you were hearing about this for the first time (as a non-comics reader), would there be really be that much difference between "Marvel is going to kill off Captain America next week" and "Marvel killed off Captain America last week"? I'd prefer to see respectable news organisations take their time, unless it's a life-threatening emergency situation.
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