I am really glad this thread exists.
This kind of stuff exists in other business and media-related stuff too but just because it exists there doesn't mean gamers have to put up with it.
Hopefully this thread will actually change some people's reading habits and others' reporting habits.
In my experience it's tough sometimes as a writer on a blog/site/whatever b/c often times you're paid very little (paid per post or have a post requirement) and then there is a pre-approved list of "stories" or topics you can write about. Often times these "stories" are just links to PR releases or better yet, other sites' "articles" about that PR release. The writer doesn't really care about the story and has very little incentive to write something better than "passable" for that post. They do the bare minimum required to have that post "count" as a post and move on.
So from that perspective it might be easy to let the writer off the hook b/c they're "just doing their job" and the real "bad guys" are the people running the site and/or editors. But I don't think that is right. These "writers" need to stand up for better quality and integrity too, just like the readers need to demand better quality.
The problem, however, is that there are so many people that want to crack into this "business" that many writers feel/are easily replaced by someone that "plays ball." And because creating a site and getting a following isn't all that hard, the same can be said for websites. If one site stops playing ball, another will spring up to take its place.
This "business" needs to be changed from the top down, down up, inside out, and outside in if real lasting change is going to take place.
But like I said, this problem is not isolated to gaming sites. I used to live in San Diego and now San Diego's newspaper is basically just a mouthpiece for propaganda but it still is represented as "news." Here is a NY Times piece about that for those interested:
This post is already too long but screw it, right?
I was offerred a free trip across the country to cover a major video-game company presentation. I am not sure why representatives from this company contacted me and offered me the trip, etc, but it happened. They said they liked things I had posted about games and whatever before...so yeah...whatever.
I ACCEPTED THE TRIP. I was given no guidelines for what the company wanted from me or why they were sending me to this presentation. It wasn't like I was hired to cover the event by the company and sent there to write things for the company's site or told to tweet positive things, etc. Look, I'll be the first to admit, I'd be willing to do that but I'd make it VERY clear that is exactly what I was doing when I was doing those things. You would never see a tweet or something from me that was disguised as one thing when it was really another.
This trip, that wasn't the case. I wasn't hired by anyone to cover anything. I was told the company was familiar with past things I had done at similar events. They sent me there. The story goes...
I flew across the country, a car service picked me up from the airport, took me to the event, and I was provided food, etc. During the presentation at the event I started doing what I have always done at those types of events, tweeting my honest impressions and feelings along with some fashion updates on what people were wearing (b/c that cracks me up).
Then during the hands-on portion of the event I received a call from someone at PR saying essentially that they had read my tweets and then reminding me who paid for my trip. I was then told to meet a PR rep at the event where I would meet a company rep who would "work with me for the remainder of the event to make sure I was having the most enjoyable time possible and had all of my questions answered." I was babysat. I was so pissed about the whole experience.
I shot a bunch of video about the whole thing on my phone while there, as it was happening, my thoughts, etc. I decided not to really do anything with it b/c this business, like any business, is small and I didn't want to burn any bridges with "raw" "in the moment" emotions.
But the more I see stuff like this going on, the more I know we all need to stand up for everything we believe in, even if one of those things is just how games are covered, or whatever.
Dang. Sorry if this was long and didn't make sense.