COMIC CON: A reporter's view from the outside

By Kris Dube / News Editor
June 7, 2014
COMIC CON: A reporter's view from the outside
A shot of the large crowd outside the Scotiabank Convention Centre during Niagara Falls Comic Con on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Mike Sansano.

NIAGARA FALLS - Niagara Falls Comic Con appears to be enjoying plenty of support this weekend – but that's just about all Bullet News Niagara is able to tell its readers.

Assuming the multiple unanswered emails I sent to the event's organizer in recent weeks meant I would be provided the same opportunity for coverage as all the other local media outlets, I went there on Saturday afternoon with my pen and notepad – and a professional photographer I was able to recruit just to make our product even better than it normally is.

But I wasn't allowed anywhere near the main floor unless I waited in line for hours and paid over $30.

Maybe it's because I've only been reporting the news in the “big city” of Niagara Falls for less than a year and I'm used to the graciousness and appreciation shown to me by event organizers in Fort Erie – but I'm shocked how even a simple reply from the organizer to say media passes were limited and I wouldn't be making the cut wasn't even provided.

I've never been to a Comic Con and to be perfectly honest – I have no real interest in minor celebrities from the 90s. But I was looking forward to this weekend because I know Niagara Falls Comic Con has become one of the premier events in Niagara – a region in which I have grown up and hope to retire to.

Even if I didn't have a good time, I would have pretended I did for the sake of promoting the region – a rebuttal to all the people my age who claim there's “nothing to do here.”

I love successful events and I'm thrilled to see this annual pop-culture celebration turn into what it has – but I'd love even more to be able to put my own angle on how great it is in a news story.

I don't care about meeting David Faustino, Dean Cain or Kevin Sorbo.

I care about helping an event grow – even if it only means two people decide to attend tomorrow because they read my story.

At least two former colleagues of mine over at Sun Media were there covering the event and judging by a brief interaction on social media with both of them – it appears neither of them had any problem getting the access they needed for their coverage.

Both reporters I'm talking about are seasoned, veteran journalists who had bylines when I was in diapers. Their stories all weekend have been great and I wasn't expecting to get an “exclusive” interview with Chewbacca and draw readers away from their coverage.

Journalists don't “compete” with one another on stories like this because everyone knows it's happening.

Even if Comic Con were promoted only through advertising in Niagara's news outlets and no editorial coverage were read anywhere – the lineups would be just as long as they were today.

My plan was to take a different angle and not even worry about interviewing special guests. I thought I'd talk to people from Fort Erie, Toronto or the U.S. about why they made the trek to Niagara Falls for the weekend.

“Why is this such a great event?”

That's probably the only question I wanted to ask people.

After arriving at the Scotiabank Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon – I quickly learned we would not be able to get inside unless we paid.

I paid for a tour of Point Abino Lighthouse once in Crystal Beach because the guide wasn't aware of the unwritten rule that members of the media don't pay to cover events. The tour cost five dollars and I think it was on payday so it wasn't too big of a deal and I just kept quiet.

After today's experience, I've tried to let it blow over, but unfortunately – that doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon.

Since I'm not caught up on the specifics – I won't get into this too much – but I did hear an actor behind the mask of one of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers wasn't too pleased with how the event was run this weekend either.

I don't hold grudges and I totally understand arriving when the doors opened might have meant a different outcome for me and the small team I assembled for the weekend – but I'm going to ask Comic Con organizers what they would do if I were someone who would still be upset about something like this in five years when Bullet News Niagara and our friends over at Niagara This Week are the only media outlets left standing.

I wasn't brought up with a religious background but I've been taught about forgiveness – and I'm not ready to ignore all of that just because I was given the cold shoulder by what I've heard described as a “nerd convention.”

I congratulate the organizers for putting on an extremely popular and well-attended event and hope it gets better and better as it grows.

Next year – take 30 seconds and reply to an email and you won't have to read editorials like this one.