A spunky, smirking woman reporter from My Hero Academia holding a microphone with the Anime Herald logo as she stands in front of Anime Boston 2024.

Columns

I Want You (Yes, You!) To Become An Anime Convention Reporter!


Are you an aspiring convention reporter? Are you interested in covering conventions, “but not yet, once I get some more experience”? As fandom event season approaches, I’m urging you (yes, you!) to put those concerns aside and apply for a press pass at an anime convention near you. 

You might be thinking this is easy for me to say, since I’ve attended Anime Boston, Anime USA, Katsucon, and Otakon (for a few examples) as a member of the media. And it’s true that I’m a professional reporter with experience writing for outlets like Forbes and the Washington Post. However, I attended the above list of cons on a press pass long before I even began my journalism career. 

That’s right, I attended four cons with a press pass back when my only journalism experience was writing for my university’s newspaper, and I think more people should do that, too. 

My thoughts crystalized after I was on the other side of the exchange, volunteering as the press liaison for Anime USA. My job was to respond to the [email protected] email; fielding requests from local news outlets and bloggers who were interested in filming, photographing, or writing about the convention. In the two years I held this position, I first accepted 40 press attendees in 2011, and 100 in 2012. These reporters came from anime news blogs, local TV stations, and high school and college newspapers.

As a press liaison, I realized that it’s not a reporter’s experience that’s important, nor is it that they’re representing a major news outlet. When I was choosing whom to accept to Anime USA 2011’s press team, I checked for professionalism, quality work, a regularly updated publication, and respect for our organization. Today, convention liaisons expect roughly the same. For example, Otakon 2024 specifically encourages student reporters to apply

In other words, I tried to find people who would actually produce press clippings after Anime USA was over! You’d be surprised how often that didn’t happen! Less than half of the people with press passes actually published stuff, and even fewer notified me after the con so I could share and promote it. After all, the free press pass isn’t exactly free. The convention is expecting coverage in return, which helps it promote itself all year long. 

I told this to a younger friend of mine who expressed interest in covering a small local convention. She’s a prolific blogger who also runs her own Discord community and social accounts. However, she still didn’t think her local con would be interested in giving her a press pass. In fact, she thought she would be “taking advantage of them” to apply, since she isn’t with the local newspaper (as if many of those still exist in our modern media environment). While she told me this, all I could think about was how much I would have enjoyed being her press liaison.

I have my share of convention reporter horror stories, and reporters’ rudeness had nothing to do with the size of their outlet or audience. For example, one press group asked me for four extra press badges (I only gave a maximum of four to any group). Later, security found this group bringing people without badges into the convention center. They explained they were doing a project where they invited “con virgins” to Anime USA to gauge their reactions. I could have found a way to work with them, but instead they chose to go behind my back. An even more mortifying tale: the reporter who facilitated a $4k robbery

I also supervised many cringe-inducing interviews between Anime USA guests and members of the press. Even college newspaper reporters know “I love your work so much,” is not an appropriate interview question, but I heard it many times! My second year, I looked at reporters’ questions in advance just to cut down on Google-able questions like “What are you most known for?” or “Can you name some of your recent projects?” There were times I’d have preferred to work with students or people just starting out, who have this knowledge fresh in their minds!

I became a press liaison because I wanted to give people the same chance that anime conventions gave me when I was a student with no credentials, and no (anime-related) writing samples. It was this opportunity that gave me the confidence to become a professional journalist. I had imposter syndrome, too, and practically needed a personal invitation before I was brave enough to apply! Let this column be yours. 

About the author

Lauren Orsini

Lauren Orsini is a writer and anime fan with bylines at the Washington Post, Forbes, Anime News Network, and others. She writes about careers in fandom on her personal blog, Otaku Journalist. She lives with her family just outside of Washington, DC.

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