Fan Expo – Media Professionalism & Ethics

I am not a professional journalist.

I openly admit that, though I’m sure my writing gives me away from time to time.

I will admit first and foremost, I’m a fan. That’s why Sue and I started this site. We were fans that felt that a lot of the things we loved weren’t getting the exposure we wanted them to have, or not enough people were talking about them.

That being said however, Sue and I, do our damnedest to behave as professionally as we can when we approach people for interviews, or set visits, or media passes. Yes we have fun in our podcast, and we like to have a good time, that, I believe, is part of the draw to people who read our posts, and listen to our interviews, but up until those moments, we act responsibly.

I know, for a fact, that there were no Murrows, no Cronkites, no Rathers, no Woodwards & Bernsteins at the convention this past weekend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t act with their level of professionalism.

Be objective and keep it all in perspective, Sue and I bought passes before we were cleared as press, so we actually paid for our ticket, just like regular fans, but I know there were a few, who were simply there on a media pass. Right off the bat, not only are you getting in free, you are indebted to the people who gave you the press badge. That’s the way Sue and I behaved. Yet, right from the get-go I heard some members of this fine profession whining and complaining, You know what, suck it up! You think mewing like a spoiled child is going to endear you to the people who organize and run the Expo? Because it’s not. In fact that would be a sure way, I would think, to not be accredited for next year, no matter who you are.

Being press does not mean you can walk around with a sense of entitlement as if you are better than everyone else there. You’re not. You’re actually there because those very people you seem to be looking down on are the ones who helped give the Con’s guests the careers they’ve had. You have a responsibility to them, to treat them as equals, and fairly, and to remember that they paid for their ticket. They are there for the experience, you may just be there because you are on assignment, or looking for a soundbite, or getting that elusive interview, they’re there because they want to be.

I saw a number of media on the first day, and you could tell which ones were there as fans as well as media, and which ones were just going through the paces for their job. It’s too bad you’re so cynical, you may have missed out on some wonderful things this weekend… if only you’d looked around.

Sue and I hope we get back next years as media, but that simply depends on what they thought of the things we wrote, and the interviews we’re going to post, and while it’s true we didn’t get all the interviews we wanted, we’re very happy with the ones we did, and that won’t stop us from trying to chase down some of the guests we wanted to talk to, but didn’t get to because of their time – they were there to chat and see their fans, if we got to chat with them for an interview, that was simply a bonus.

One of the things that both Sue and I agreed on right away, is that yes, we would love to score interviews with a great deal of people, but we were not going to steal that time from some fan who had waited in line for their moment to chat with a con guest as they gave an autograph or posed for a picture.

Not every representative of the media could say that about their behavior this past weekend. I’ve heard stories of some press holding up the queue for the photo-ops because they went in to interview the guest during the time that was set aside for photo-ops. Now while their agent, even their handler, may have given the ok on that, a little common sense on your part may have been a little wiser.  Don’t put yourself into a position where you’re taking away from a fan’s experience, otherwise you’re not only giving the media presence at events like that a bad name, you, yourself, tend to look like an ass hat, whether you are or not, that’s the impression you give. So think about it first.

Yes, you may have gotten your interview, but you took that time away from fans who have been waiting in lines, and just want to have their moment.

You may have done the right thing by going through agents and handlers, even the guest themselves, but never put yourself higher than those fans around you, wait for your turn. We have a great example for this, we chatted with the awesome Tony Todd this weekend, and while we were in line, more folks queued behind us. Now the handler knew we were there, Tony knew we were there, and they were willing to do it, but we all knew that the fans come first! We stepped aside countless times, and then got a wonderful 10 minutes with Tony all to ourselves, and it was worth the wait.

Now, it’s different if you’re taking pictures, I get the idea of running up the length of the hall to get the right shot, dipping and dodging around folks to get the right angle, the right lighting to capture a shot. I did some of that myself this weekend for the wonderful folks at the Dead Before Dawn 3D booth. I would dip in, take a pic of the film’s stars, Devon Bostick, Tim Doiron, and April Mullen, but then you clear right out. Stay out of the way as much as possible, because once again, you don’t want to take away from the fans.

In the end, it’s their event, and fans are very vocal about what they do and don’t like, and if they don’t like you, you may find yourself out of luck next year, and refused at other cons as well.

So I am simply asking all my fellow media and press members… remember where you are, remember your manners, and don’t steal those moments from the fans.

Revel in it, document it, but never steal from it.

As an addendum, I’m going to point out that most of the media who may or may not have stirred the pot this weekend were not from things like The Toronto Star, Space, CTV, Breakfast Television, or any of the other newspaper or tv stations locally. The paid professionals tended to behave as such. Some others may want to take their cue from them as well.

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