As press, conventions usually suck hard. You’ve got so many places to be, so many people to talk to and so much information to write down and get published as quickly as possible, the event becomes a kind of extended cacophonous remix of a regular work day, stretched out over sixty hours or so, and almost nothing you write is any good.
I don’t know who’s responsible for this, but one day some asshole came up with the bright idea of reporting live from discussion panels. The basic idea is that you as the reporter sit there and listen to what people on the dais are saying and what questions the attendees are asking, type as much of it as you can on your laptop, then publish it all to your website via wifi. You repeat this again and again every few minutes until the panel concludes. The whole thing is predicated on the notion that there are loads of people at home reading your website and clicking Refresh again and again to get up-to-the-minute latest news on whatever it is you happen to be covering, right fucking now.
Naturally — and I am speaking for everybody, here — the quality of these live reports tends to be very poor if not altogether unreadable. Some panels aren’t even structured at all, with whole hours being dedicated to lively back-and-forths between professionals and fans; really long conversations, as opposed to orchestrated announcements or presentations, making your report that much harder to write and concurrently that much harder to read.
But you have to do it, because everyone else does it, and you can’t afford to have the same news published any later than the other guy, readable or not. The one saving grace, from the reporter’s point of view, is that there’s usually some poor bastard off-site whose job it is to go in and clean up the grotesque nonsense you’ve left him with, officially making it Somebody Else’s Problem and giving you enough time to get to your next panel and play out the dreadful thing all over again.
It’s unknown to me whether or not these “live readers” exist in numbers large enough to justify this desperate practice. The whole thing assumes these people would rather be doing it this way than just reading the same news all at once in a properly written and easily digestible form about an hour or so after the fact, and I just don’t know if that’s true. But it doesn’t matter because it’s too late to go back. If Dan DiDio or Jim McCann is on a panel, you can bet some underpaid hack (or not paid at all, if he writes for Wizard) is in the crowd typing furiously into a MacBook, trying to get all the pertinent details about the latest Secret Invasion tie-in or asking the guy next to him if he understood whatever the fuck Grant Morrison just said, all so some people on the internet can know that information at that precise goddamn moment.
That is, unless you’re sitting on a pre-arranged and “embargoed” feature or interview that contains more or less the same news that’s meat to be announced at the event. More on that later.