Entertainment Weekly and the reality of the mainstream

Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher has been one of the more respected names in geek news – he was the founder of the LAT’s Hero Complex blog – and I’m rather sad that he’s the one who fell down on the job when it came to EW’s The Star Wars feature.

Not the last time you'll see Star Wars on EW's cover.
Not the last time you’ll see Star Wars on EW’s cover.

But, alas, that’s journalism for you. Writers screw up, pieces are poorly copy edited – or not at all – and mistakes happen. (Remember “two or three films” a year?) I’ve been around – both professionally and as a blogger – too long to not be pragmatic about it. I can tell you, sometimes? Errors happen. Big ones. Even with editors and copy editors – and you’re lucky to have a copy editor, even at the big guys. And chances are, even if you have these people, they may be reading dozens of stories throughout the day, sometimes dozens an hour. Dozens.

I’m certainly not denying that Randy Stradley has every reason to be angry at the tone of the article in regards to the Marvel issue. That does seem to be Boucher* editorializing, given how very not fatalistic Randy and Dark Horse have been approaching the issue.

* Or someone… Given comments I’ve seen from ex-EW people, could it have happened elsewhere down the line? I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

Still… I’m not lighting any torches: This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I’m just disappointed.

But no, Lucasfilm is probably not going to stop giving Entertainment Weekly exclusives over this. (Nor are they going to give a major scoop to any amateur blogger or a fan site, for reasons I’ll get to.) They might not be the powerhouse they once were, but EW is still one of the biggest mainstream pop culture news sources out there.

LFL likes to spread the love – just off the top of my head, I can think of big announcements that have gone through USA Today and IGN. USA Today is the very definition of mainstream, but getting any coverage out on any of the big guys is a boon, pure and simple. Publishing online may give them all the space in the world, but that doesn’t mean they can hire more writers, or give a mere handful of people enough time to cover everything properly. Sure, they’ll all write about director or actor rumors, but the smaller stuff, like books and comics? That’s harder to get out to the mainstream.

Because one thing a lot of hardcore fans seem to forget: They’re not targeting us. We’ll find this stuff on any podunk website or message board or Facebook page, and they know it. We’ll all post about it. But you know who reads us – from TFN on down? Other hardcore fans.

What outlets like EW and USAT (and even, to some extent, sites like Gawker’s io9) reach is the mainstream. Geeks who like Star Wars but aren’t watching fansites for it. The casual fans who only read one or two entertainment news sites – or maybe only read Entertainment Weekly when it shows up in their mailbox. That’s where most of the money is. And that’s why they’ll keep getting scoops – fuckups or no fuckups. Because they have the eyeballs.

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