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stephentotilo
Behind The Games
(10-29-2012, 05:41 AM)

Originally Posted by Foxtastical

Did you read Shawn's posts? It seems you're responding to the more hostile posters that believe journalists are "money hats" and other bullshit. I want more responses to what Shawn (and many of us) is saying. You might have responded, but yeah, this is a tough thread to keep track of.

I just read/re-read them (I'd seen some of them). I don't have much to add. They're not controversial. The job of PR is to get the most positive image of their product or client out there. I've been aware of this for a very long time and assume folks here are, too.

As I read through the chronology of what set all this off, the most interesting thing to me--the thing that feels new--is the possibility that one media outlet threatened another and that the other caved and edited their story. But I still don't know the fact of that, and it looks like there are conflicting accounts.

But regarding PR's influence? it's significant to the extent that reporters interact with PR, which is probably why the Kotaku stories I am proudest of didn't begin with PR outreach, often didn't even involve PR people or sometimes pissed some PR people off. I always remember that a PR person's job is to seem like my pal even if deep down inside they might not actually want to be my pal (I'm sure most of them don't!). But that's not the most important thing to remember about the reporter-publicist relationship: I am always mindful of the fact that PR people, even the nicest ones, are paid to mostly just tell me the company line, whereas I'm paid to tell the truth. Sometimes those are the same thing; sometimes they're not. It's why I'd never take a job in PR. The priorities of that job, which certainly involve the useful service of being one possible point of contact for a company, are just so different from those of the journalist.

About the whole chumminess thing. There are only one or two people who work in any part of the games industry who I might be tempted to call a friend, but even with those people I find myself stopping short any time I might refer to them as such. It's because one of my old journalism school ethics professors liked to remind me and my fellow students that journalists should have no friends. Not just no friends on the beat, but NO friends! He was extreme. He also suggested that if a war reporter was embedded with a platoon and knew the platoon was about to walk into an ambush that the reporter shouldn't warn the platoon. That was because he said a reporter's primary goal was to report the truth without altering the truth. And his "no friends" thing was because he was sure that any good reporter would have to print something true and therefore not necessarily flattering about anyone they might come across and therefore couldn't afford to be friendly with these people.

Our other ethics professor laughed some of this off and pointed out that this was all rather extreme, but it's a hell of a standard to operate in relation to, and it's these kind of extremes that I use to guide me. This is why it's laughable to me when I see people going after me for a Halo unboxing video. I made a news judgment on that and decided the mailing had enough news value to show it to people, but I certainly was aware of the ethical issues around it. I always am for anything we do.