Originally Posted by aeolist
The problem, like I mentioned before, is the gap between how you see yourselves and how we see you.
You see yourselves as fundamentally good and honest people that constantly have to make deals with the devil to do work that you love. You think that being friendly with PR is just part of the job and there's nothing wrong with it. You think that endemic advertising on your sites doesn't make a difference in how you write about the product.
We see you as being chummy with the salesmen that are constantly lying to us directly or indirectly and trying to get us to buy absolutely everything that comes out. We think you're friends with them and very naturally don't want to piss them off. We see a good review for a game surrounded by ads for that same game and think there is obviously monetary influence at play.
Now I'm sure that reality lies somewhere between these two points, closer to one or the other depending on the site and the writer. I am certainly willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and I definitely don't think that most or even a good number of you are on the take.
But the reaction to this mess has made the contrast between your audience's viewpoint and your own all the more stark. From your point of view the Twitter reactions are just jokes, and putting myself in your shoes it makes sense. People are constantly accusing you of being totally corrupt so I'm sure it becomes very difficult to tell the difference between that and someone who genuinely wants to engage you in conversation on these issues. For the average gamer though, we see someone decry PR shilling in an article immediately lose his job over legal threats, followed by mockery towards the article, its precepts, and the readers that are taking it seriously all coming from what looks like a combined group of writers and PR acting very friendly with one another.
Very well put. It's unfortunate that so many of you are viewing things with such cold cynicism. One solution might be for people like me to be as transparent as possible and be willing to engage in conversation on these issues, which is one of the reasons I'm posting in this thread. But it's tough to talk about that when the conversation keeps swinging back to the fact that Kotaku is doing something evil because we took 10 minutes to show people what's in the Halo collectors edition but we're not interested in putting a great deal of time into a story about media issues.
Regardless, to address what you said: I had no idea that people were reacting so extremely to those silly tweets until I saw this thread hours after I made them. I can see your perspective to be sure. But the major reason I'm joking about the idea of someone advertising to win a PS3 is because it's so absurd in the first place that anybody would think it's OK to advertise to win a PS3. I am completely detached both mentally and geographically from these incidents, as are many other reporters I've spoken to.
On that same level, the idea that PR people are pulling the strings behind every outlet is also absurd and so at odds with everything I do every day that joking about it is a natural response. But you're right: I can see exactly why it feels like a slap in the face to see me joking about something like that if you actually believe that me and my colleagues are corrupt or shady or unethical or whatever else. I get that.
Ultimately, as I've said before, I'm of the belief that good work speaks for itself. I am extremely concerned with being fair, honest, and transparent no matter where I write or speak, and I have some rather strict ethical standards that I laid out earlier in this thread. My job is to continue to make that as clear as possible. I think there will always be people who believe that game journalism is corrupt, and I think my time is better spent worried about doing good game journalism.
And I think it's OK for one website to be a forum for a great deal of things. I think it's OK for us to spend ten minutes writing about trailers or unboxing Halo videos while also spending the majority of our time reporting and writing stories about the state of StarCraft as an eSport or the crazy history behind X-Men Destiny. We post some 60 things a day: not every single one of those is going to be a monumental piece of investigative reporting.
If you'd like to see some more examples of that sort of work, here are some recent stories I'm particularly proud of:
And here's a post that took ten minutes:
There's room on Kotaku for all kinds, you know?