Civil War NPR Gaffe Highlights Bigger War For Comics’ Respect
NPR had an interesting piece I was listening to recently. Listening to NPR has been a recent change in my morning routine since most of the morning radio programming in the Q-C is either bad music or worse comedy. The piece they had was about the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, appearing in a Marvel comic.
I found the article very frustrating because they referred to the comic several times, but they never once actually used the title of the book. I found the transcript of it on their webpage and the closest they come is referencing Civil War Two, the crossover event the comic they were actually talking about is related to. On the NPR webpage they feature the variant cover of the book that has Trudeau on it and several pages of the story he features in, which is about a quarter of the story since it’s an anthology book.
Now, when I heard the report on the radio I knew what comic, even what cover, they were talking about because I had spent the previous night helping at my local comics shop. So, I stood there, combing my hair waiting for them to say the title. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. In fact it’s only because I checked the transcript that I see they mentioned that it was the variant cover of the book, I didn’t hear them say that.
I don’t know if this news came about because someone at NPR thought this would be something worth writing about or, and I think this is more likely, someone at Marvel PR thought it would make a good fluff piece. What really baffles me is that no one at NPR thought to listen to their recording before throwing it up for broadcast. How, without the foreknowledge I had, would you know what you were looking for at the comic shop if the Prime Minister of Canada is going to sell this comic for you?
The Internet is a great tool thankfully. I Googled ‘Marvel Canada cover’ and it found what I was looking for. In fact it takes me to the NPR page I’ve been referencing, but what sticks in my craw is that I shouldn’t have to look this up myself and I know they wouldn’t be this misguided or lazy if this was, well, anything else really.
I have no doubt that if this was a new novel by anyone, they wouldn’t forget to tell you the title of the book. That any musician they chose to highlight would get their new album name checked. I’ve heard their movie reviews and every time they tell me the film’s title. The only way they refer to Civil War 2: Choosing Sides #5 (Did I have you going?) is “the new Marvel comic” as if they only publish one title, ever. This is ok if it was an Internet only article, because just as their article shows, you can have the actual cover to show your readers what it looks like if they need to track it down to read.
Digging into it a little, the author Jackie Northam, is NPR’s foreign affairs correspondent, so maybe this isn’t seem her usual wheelhouse. I don’t know why her editor thought it made sense to never actually use the title though. I mean isn’t that Journalism 101? Reference your source unless they ask to be left anonymous. Several of the creators get named; surely they would want the thing you’re talking to them about to be referenced. Maybe they thought it would be impolite to say anything.
At any rate, this Civil Wars gaffe seems to be part of a bigger battle – the one to give comics the respect they deserve as an artform. The sad thing is, if a respected journalistic outlet like NPR can’t bother to do that, what hope do we have in any media?