EDIT: The story continues! I've created a follow-up to this article. Read it HERE.
I've been mentioning Wizard World Chicago Comic Con for weeks. This will be the last time I write about the event in 2013. Geek Girl Chicago's press credentials, which I'd had for 2 years, were rejected. I am deeply saddened that I will not be meeting readers and photographing cosplayers. That's the short version. The long version goes as follows...
** (I recommend reading my 2012 Wizard World coverage first to understand the full scope. I had several negative experiences at the con, but feel I found the positive, too. I believe I spoke about Chicago Comic Con in a fair way. What do you think?)**
I turned in my application for 2013 press credentials weeks before the deadline. I got an "application received" letter right away, but figured I'd be waiting a while for a verdict. Feedback appeared in less than a week, but it was unofficial and, well, strange.
A staff member from Wizard World contacted me on my private Facebook- NOT Geek Girl Chicago's. I'll call this man "JJ". I still don't know JJ's title, but he has been all over social media lately. JJ's message was quite long, addressing every bit of my 2012 convention coverage- especially the poor treatment of press. JJ apologized... but in an extraordinarily defensive way:
"To be fair, I do believe there were a number of problems with certain press agents last year. I personally had many press photographers lie to me, and tell me they were allowed in certain areas, just to be told later they had no such clearance."
Huh? I have NEVER behaved in such a way. My photographer has NEVER behaved in such a way. While JJ wasn't accusing me head-on, he was certainly trying to justify the mistreatment of press. While I'm sure "certain press agents" acted like idiots, I wasn't one of them. As far as I know, I did nothing to lose my press credibility.
I wrote back, thanking JJ. I said I stood by my 2012 writeup, but was very excited to hear about some of the 2013 changes. I was looking forward to the con. I waited, still optimistic, for word from Wizard World.
My photographer applied weeks later than me. She got a "real" rejection e-mail; I received nothing. I started to wonder if an e-mail wasn't coming. I sent a polite follow-up note to Jerry Milani. Within hours, I got a copy-and-pasted rejection memo. Ouch.
To justify the rejection, Mr. Milani cited a large wave of press applicants that could not be accommodated. Fair. However, a few things didn't sit right with me:
- Geek Girl Chicago had already been listed on the official website as attending press for 2013.
- JJ's contact was oddly-timed, demanding, and through a private outlet.
- C2E2, an event comparable in size, had welcomed me happily. My coverage of that event was a huge success. The article received a spot in the ChicagoNow newsletter and front-page feature on ChicagoTribune.com.
- Above all, press etiquette generally states that if I was good enough last year, I'm good enough this year. With massive viral articles and its largest following to date, Geek Girl Chicago is more qualified than ever to cover world-class events.
I asked that the GGC name be removed from the website and that JJ refrain from contacting me further. My feedback, blog name, and time are not free. I am certainly not pulling $90 last-minute from my Dragon Con fund to attend.
At best, Wizard World is no longer interested in humble bloggers. At worst, heaven forbid, the convention harshly deals with less-than-sparkling feedback. Is that what occurred here? I honestly don't know. I haven't heard of this happening to anyone else, and would love word from others.
In the past week, several people have offered me badges. I will continue to kindly say, "No, thank you." I support all of my friends and fellow press outlets who still wish to attend. I hope you have so much fun, and I'm sorry to miss out! I am not, however, sorry for writing honest convention reports and opinions.
See you at Dragon Con and beyond. My content will carry on as usual. Long live Geek Girl Chicago, long live geeks.
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