Games Journalism! Wainwright/Florence/Tomb Raider/Eurogamer/Libel Threats/Doritos

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Don't many sites already have a similar ethics statement?
Publicly? No. Certainly, I don't recall, say, Kotaku or IGN putting up a post saying "here's what our employees can and can't do". It's pretty much only Polygon who has a public ethics statement (and as a result of Florencecourt, now we have the gaming section of The Guardian and VG247 making a public announcement of an ethics statement).
 
VG247 has always been good from what I could see, this reinforces that. Good on them. Hopefully now some other sites follow suit instead of staying silent or trying to avoid the issue by mocking it or saying it's "not important". It is important. Well done to VG247.
 
Don't many sites already have a similar ethics statement?
Some don't seem to mind taking liberties with regards to their ethics statement.

polygon's ethics statement said:
Advertisers don't ask us to cover their products, and we don't comment about their ads. Our policies do not permit placements of advertorial on Polygon. We will endeavor to clearly mark any advertisement or "infomercial" (videos, Flash animations, etc.) shown on Polygon as an advertisement.
Mind you this is only about paid advertorials / infomercials. Unpaid ones? They're all over that shit, like an overweight kid on a (delicious) pizza!

Good on VG247!
 
I mean, most writers are on twitter, if anyone is interested, they can get a good gauge on their personality and ethics.

I could go and write up our ethics article right now, but what does it mean? It's just words on a page, it doesn't mean or prove anything.

It's a shame it's gone this far, that people feel the need to to do this.
No I'm good, the fact that your writers on twitter is enough for me. I'll go peruse their tweets for hints as to their ethical policy.
 
Publicly? No. Certainly, I don't recall, say, Kotaku or IGN putting up a post saying "here's what our employees can and can't do". It's pretty much only Polygon who has a public ethics statement (and as a result of Florencecourt, now we have the gaming section of The Guardian and VG247 making a public announcement of an ethics statement).
I thought having a public ethics statement would be an obvious and self-evident thing. I guess I was wrong?

Ours isn't, but I don't really see that it needs to be.

I mean, most writers are on twitter, if anyone is interested, they can get a good gauge on their personality and ethics.

I could go and write up our ethics article right now, but what does it mean? It's just words on a page, it doesn't mean or prove anything.

It's a shame it's gone this far, that people feel the need to to do this.
That's a very strange way of looking at it. Why do you think organizations have detailed public policies on any matter? Things like this.
 
No I'm good, the fact that your writers on twitter is enough for me. I'll go peruse their tweets for hints as to their ethical policy.
I just mean that if someone is acting in an unethical manner, it's not going to be hard to spot. I could be wrong, maybe we (and every site) should have a public ethics statement.
 
Ours isn't, but I don't really see that it needs to be.

I mean, most writers are on twitter, if anyone is interested, they can get a good gauge on their personality and ethics.

I could go and write up our ethics article right now, but what does it mean? It's just words on a page, it doesn't mean or prove anything.

It's a shame it's gone this far, that people feel the need to to do this.
It doesn't "prove" anything, but it's better than doing nothing. It at least shows that some thought has gone on in regard to what's happened over the last week or so, and it's prompted some changes. Whether you believe that VG247 are sincere in implementing those changes is up to you, everyone will make their own decision on that - I believe that they are, and I respect them for being honest and upfront with their readers, something other sites could learn from - at the very least, disclose any PR interaction such as free stuff, paid for trips, and so on.
 
Ours isn't, but I don't really see that it needs to be.

I mean, most writers are on twitter, if anyone is interested, they can get a good gauge on their personality and ethics.

I could go and write up our ethics article right now, but what does it mean? It's just words on a page, it doesn't mean or prove anything.

It's a shame it's gone this far, that people feel the need to to do this.
It's gone this far because websites are shady when it comes to ethics, and have been for the longest time, without ever discussing or addressing the matter to their readers.

Also, I disagree with you that writing this publicly doesn't matter. It matters a great deal, especially in a time like this, when all websites are being looked at their ethics and practices with a critical eye. It's very important to let your readers understand that you don't even want to 'look bad' or give them any reason to not trust you.

It's sad that you think of them as "words on a page", by the way.
 
It doesn't "prove" anything, but it's better than doing nothing. It at least shows that some thought has gone on in regard to what's happened over the last week or so, and it's prompted some changes. Whether you believe that VG247 are sincere in implementing those changes is up to you, everyone will make their own decision on that - I believe that they are, and I respect them for being honest and upfront with their readers, something other sites could learn from - at the very least, disclose any PR interaction such as free stuff, paid for trips, and so on.
VG are definitely sincere, that much I know.

But how are your readers supposed to know that? That's the purpose of a public policy.
Perhaps so, but nobody seemed worried about it before, it just never seemed like we needed it, and I'm sure a lot of other sites felt the same.

It's sad that you think of them as "words on a page", by the way.
Sorry :-(
 
It's sad that you think of them as "words on a page", by the way.
Yep. They're a statement of intent, and a powerful thing if used correctly. The VG247 article explains pretty well what purpose they serve:

In reality, these (obvious) rules won’t greatly affect the way we work at all. We don’t take bungs for scores or sell top-slot stories for coke and hookers. Our journalists have integrity, no matter what may have happened in the last week. We try to be good. VG247 is a quality, popular site, and I’m proud of both the publication and its team. What these regulations will do, in theory, is shade any grey areas in our operation either black or white. Our staff will now know what they can and can’t do, and you, as a reader, can feel completely comfortable in reading both our news and opinions and knowing you’re seeing independent editorial.
 
Ours isn't, but I don't really see that it needs to be.

I mean, most writers are on twitter, if anyone is interested, they can get a good gauge on their personality and ethics.

I could go and write up our ethics article right now, but what does it mean? It's just words on a page, it doesn't mean or prove anything.

It's a shame it's gone this far, that people feel the need to to do this.
Yeah, the United States Declaration of Independence is just words on a page. Those NDAs you sign are just words on a page. Ethics statements are just words on a page.

Transparency and honesty from people we rely on to bring us news is not "going too far." It's the bare minimum of our expectations.

Why should you post it publicly? Easy. I won't go to your site if it isn't.
 
Transparency and honesty from people we rely on to bring us news is not "going too far." It's the bare minimum of our expectations.
Then I wholeheartedly apologise for misjudging the seriousness of the situation. It's always been most important to bring the content that the readers want to our site, that's ALL that matters. Why else are you doing it, if not for the readers? And we've always been honest and transparent about the way we do it. Just not in an article posted to describe how/why.
 
Then I wholeheartedly apologise for misjudging the seriousness of the situation. It's always been most important to bring the content that the readers want to our site, that's ALL that matters. Why else are you doing it, if not for the readers?
I don't think you mean what you're saying here. All that matters is NOT simply having the content that readers want, it's doing it while still maintaining integrity and impartiality. And that does not go without saying, it should be clearly stated. If only to distance yourselves from those that do consider what you wrote there to be ALL that matters.
 
Also, Lauren Wainwright defense force, assemble!
From that article:
Let me end with a question and a thought. Who's benefited out of this? Florence left his job at Eurogamer and Wainwright has been subjected to mistrust and the dark side of the internet. On the bright side, Doritos are everywhere thanks to Florence’s article, and so is the name Square Enix thanks to those clever little news-hounds. Bad press is good press when it comes to PR. For the rest of us though, bad press is just that … bad press.
Bad press is good news when it's deserved!

But again, it comes down to who your write for. Writing basically for yourself, to secure an income is perfectly fine - but you shouldn't forget the interests of your readers. And the huge amounts of comments under the original Eurogamer article speak for the need of this discussion.
And calling message board posters "little news hounds" is funny. You yourself should be the hound! To keep up the analogy - don't be mad at others because you've been castrated, have lost your instincts and are comfy being fed.
 
I don't think you mean what you're saying here. All that matters is NOT simply having the content that readers want, it's doing it while still maintaining integrity and impartiality. And that does not go without saying, it should be clearly stated.
Yeah, after I'd hit submit I realised how that read! Haha, sorry.

What I'm trying to say is that readers are the most important thing to us, so there's no way any publicist would, or could sway an opinion to change reality, because that would be disgusting, and wouldn't be of benefit to the reader.

Hope that makes more sense?

Then it won't change anything you do, which is good. Just let us know that. For the people in this thread it's just as important as the quality of your articles.
We're small fry compared to some of these people, but point taken. Trying to get some words together now, actually.
 
Yeah, after I'd hit submit I realised how that read! Haha, sorry.

What I'm trying to say is that readers are the most important thing to us, so there's no way any publicist would, or could sway an opinion to change reality, because that would be disgusting, and wouldn't be of benefit to the reader.

Hope that makes more sense?



We're small fry compared to some of these people, but point taken. Trying to get some words together now, actually.
You should check out my compilation of useful links, and especially Shawn Elliot's posts. This isn't really about blatant bribes or bought editorials (although I'm sure those things have happened at some point), it's more subtle than that.
 
The good thing about public ethics statements is that it allows us regular folk to call shenanigans:

"Hey, you Polygon guys simply posted a press release!"

"Nuh-uh! Banned!"

"Look at your fucking ethics statements, asshats!"

"Oh, yeah"
 
You should check out my compilation of useful links, and especially Shawn Elliot's posts. This isn't really about blatant bribes or bought editorials (although I'm sure those things have happened at some point), it's more subtle than that.
Totally appreciate the links, but if I'm going to write something like this, it's got to be personal, and from the heart.
 
Wait, are we really calling it "Doritosgate" now?
I think its appropiate, Wainwrightgate or Florence-gate sounds way too dignified for this horrible, shitty pathetic situation.

And lol @ Defense article, South park references, implications of mysogony,having her on twitter, ignoring her past, dismissive sarcastic approach to the article, this douchebag included all his elements on one piece.
 
The good thing about public ethics statements is that it allows us regular folk to call shenanigans:

"Hey, you Polygon guys simply posted a press release!"

"Nuh-uh! Banned!"

"Look at your fucking ethics statements, asshats!"

"Oh, yeah"
Exactly. Your readers can hold you accountable once you release a statement on how your site is supposed to be run. VG247's reputation can be damaged if they're caught not reporting something that they said that they would. So it's something that'll keep them on their toes.
 
Yeah, after I'd hit submit I realised how that read! Haha, sorry.

What I'm trying to say is that readers are the most important thing to us, so there's no way any publicist would, or could sway an opinion to change reality, because that would be disgusting, and wouldn't be of benefit to the reader.

Hope that makes more sense?

We're small fry compared to some of these people, but point taken. Trying to get some words together now, actually.
It's not just about not being directly or indirectly influenced. It's about the perception that you may have been influenced.

Polygon, for example. They accepted $750,000 from Microsoft to have their "Press Reset" documentary created and sponsored by Internet Explorer. Gies can say all day long that this payment does not influence his writing on Xbox 360 games. It might, it might not (and if you read Shawn Elliot's posts, it most likely does). But an ethical journalist would not have put themselves in this position in the first place, and have their integrity questioned simply because of the impression of impropriety.
 
Polygon, for example. They accepted $750,000 from Microsoft to have their "Press Reset" documentary created and sponsored by Internet Explorer.
You can chalk this up to my inability (lack of interest) to read, but I actually thought Polygon was a Microsoft created gaming news page :D I didn't realize differently until they popped up here.
 
More pearls of wisdom from VGI:


VGI said:
"Does gaming journalism need fixing? Clearly, the answer is no. We get news, we get reviews, we get interviews. Until this process crashes, journalism doesn't need fixing. Now, I'm not so deluded that I'm blind to issues in journalism. There are plenty of areas that need tightening up, and people who need to be silenced. But these problems are superficial and can be solved by simply not going to a perpetrator’s website."
Enjoy my one and only click on your site, VGI.


Here is the guy from VGI begging MCV to throw him a bone:

https://twitter.com/MCVonline/status...83892778184705
 
Used to be a writer on that site that shall not be named, was fine when things started up, we wrote about things we really cared about, felt right, good vibes and felt like we were above the mess that was gaming journalism at the time, and wouldn't you know it within a year we had connections and review copies from many publishers.

The site grew as we did this, made me super happy, just to be apart of it, we were all volunteers really just having fun with our hobby, then as things grew Brett (AKA ioi, who is actually a super nice guy even though he's demonized a bit around here) started talking about pay jobs, highest positions first, then going down the line, was a neat idea... but with money and rising popularity those guys getting the steady monthly pay started to let things go to their head I feel.

Main one in charge, Naznatips, of reviews and the community at the time really started to fold at this time. No longer posting on the forums, which his dedication and popularity in got him to his head position, he stopped taking care of the community, thus the former place that drew me in for intelligent video game discussion started to die off and turned into flame wars. Lots of issues happened, I actually went to Brett with it, which is when he just made me a mod to take care of things, which actually happened, had a lot of praise from members who wanted to discuss games, but the new members that were behind a lot of the trolling, flaming, and downfall of the community complained to Naznatips, overturned the trolls bans in most cases, showed them they could get away with anything, the community has died since then... for obvious reasons but that was the start of it and I warned them along with a member here by the name of MakingMusic476. We fought hard for the community.

Getting back to journalism, just setting up a little character, I guess the biggest issues I personally had was being the PSP reviewer, I was doing the review for Chains of Olympus, originally gave it a review score of 7.5, for me a solid game but not entirely needed for the series as a whole, short for 40 dollars, and given at the time we did reviews for older games, the game had been out for a while and my audience for the review wasn't the fans who already bought it, it was the people who were on the fence but liked action titles like myself. This is where I ran into Torillian, one of the head editors and reviewers, he told me to up the review score to at least an 8.0, despite never playing the game and no matter the reasoning he kept telling me to up the score, I adjusted to 7.9 and never budged from there. Pissed him off and Naz apparently on that one, they still bitch about it on their chat they think I don't watch from time to time lol (really how immature can you get when that review was like 2009)

Second major issue I ran into was doing the Call of Duty 4 review on Wii, got the review copy, played it for like the third time, since I had it on 360 and PC before. I actually really loved World at War on Wii and how the controls handled, was in the top ten in the world for a while on it, I enjoyed it that much. Anyway Call of Duty 4 ported the full game, minus the bonus DLC maps, compared to W@W it was head and shoulders better, and I reviewed it as such, included a bit about how enjoyable it was to control, which apparently rubbed Naz the wrong way as he told me I couldn't say the Wii controls had a couple advantages to the PC controls (basically analog vs WASD) and that the pointer controls was much smoother and reflex accurate compared to dual analog control. Dunno why discussing points people would actually like is a problem but oh well, it got spread around the net, like the IGN and Gamespot boards and brought in a lot of views, it actually contributed to my first check (since anyone not higher up got paid based on views)


Picture of my W@W ranking

I guess the biggest blow to my motivation to writing and trying to push the site further was actually just a small incident. Got a review copy of Nostalgia way early, came with an embargo, which was a first for me, usually smaller sites like ours didn't get copies that early, ended up playing through it at a brisk pace, not to rush things, as that hurts your experience, but play a bit more than I normally would with a longer RPG like that one in a day. Ended up enjoying it but beating it actually happened the day before the embargo lifted, got together with the PR manager one of my good friends, started saying, wouldn't it be great to have the first review up? We agreed and wanted to do something awesome to get good rep, to go the extra mile for our readers, and the site as whole. So we worked really hard on getting things done in a day (usually took a few days at least) and in comes Torillian to copy edit, he spits on our work, specifically how my writing wasn't "up to the standards" of the site... coming from the guy who lacked standards... or rather had double standards, basically admitting he reviewed Nintendo games more harshly because he felt they got a free pass from reviewers in the forums, that was rather degrading and ticked me off.

Since that's my run in with issues that involved me, I'll go into issues I witnessed. We had a leader for our News section, who by himself some days would post all the news, the man was a work horse, very good guy, when the site started getting press passes for E3 he even made everyone shirts with their name on it, simply put the guy was an amazing person. When money started getting involved and trying to "turn the site legit" a couple of people outside the site were hired, one straight on to be in charge of original content, which sorta put him over the guy in charge of news, immediately started hounding him, the problem? The guys main language was Spanish, so his English writing wasn't as fluent, but he could and would write articles in two languages, basically making the site and news more accessible... apparently this logic didn't enter that brain, eventually the news guy was fired (without going through Brett), only to be put back on the team as a normal writer, cause it was BS how it was handled, not long after the news stream slowed to a trickle. Coupled with the fanboy news writers, flat out trolling in some articles, and the crazy standards for how many articles people had to write for so little pay... the news slowed to a trickle, the good guys left, all that was left was the terrible people (much like how the community went down, no one there to keep standards) and eventually the news site was axed for good.

Things I saw here and there. Naz threatened a long time member who called him out on his actions, or inaction rather, his ego is out the wazoo. He attacked me and MakingMusic when MakingMusic made a thread in our staff forums, trying address community issues before it ruined the site, he essentially DID the problem we were trying to address, which was there was no civil discussion where the parties would listen to one another... Once I was discussing the launch of the 3DS on our AIM chat, asking who was getting it to try to see who I could go to for a friend code after release, ended up attacked by Naz and Torillian for being a Nintendo fanboy, when Torillian said he was buying a Vita because the 3DS didn't have games and nothing that would interest him in the foreseeable future. The funny thing that happened in that chat was Naz goes to Torillians defense saying Torillian doesn't hate Nintendo, but right before he could hit send, Torillian messaged how much he hates Nintendo... I died laughing (these are the guys in charge of your reviews for Pete's sake). Torillian actually has a large number of factual errors in his reviews, one of the biggest he got called out on was saying how he got lost in Final Fantasy The Crystal Bearers, couldn't find his way around, and yet "finished" the game hours before people who actually played the game (cause I'm convinced he didn't) and that was people rushing and not getting lost... it made no logical sense. Torillian actually said Darksiders 1 did the Zelda aspects better than Zelda... like dungeon design... let that one sink in...

Otherwise you can look up gamejournos articles on the site, there's a bit of spite there, and how it handled by Brett was terrible... but for the most part what people said was true, while people might take it out on Brett, I'd say the downfall was lead by the people who volunteered for these head positions at the beginning, then didn't keep their original standards once they felt like they had an audience, and Brett should have fired them, flat out, but he was preoccupied with other responsibilities, so he sorta trusted these guys to keep things in order.

I quit the site after we got a new community manager, who fired all the mods, said he was hiring a new team and that old mods could come back if they apply and had to pass him and Torillian (LOL at me getting back on the mod team with that one) so what mods were hired back? The ones that were rarely on or moderated, a couple being the clearly biased guys, who couldn't follow a line of logic to save their life, and actually moderated people who were debating them with facts... yeah... of course I didn't come back, tried to stick around, realized without trying to clean things up I had nothing left there since discussion was all but dead, so I left completely at that point, and of course things have gotten worse... even heard about some trouble they got into with one of the sites they get linked from (can't say who or what on that one) but it was related to Torillian and his lack of standards... oh and about a little agreement with Gillette ads that were advertising Sony games, that no negative press could be posted that month... and wouldn't you know it no negative news happened and Killzone 3 got a 9!

That's my long story, I'm planning on starting up my own site and sticking to the standards and doing it with a number of old staffers that quit but really cared about the site, and some real life friends and journalist majors from school. Thinking about actually going the kickstarter route with my idea, but life has been a little busy the past few months, will draw up a real plan soon though.
 
Shit article said:
She worked as a consultant. She works for MCV as a journalist. MCV is tightly run ship. Do you think she declared that she worked for Square Enix in her job interview? Probably. With how big MCV is, do you think it's possible they've already looked into whether there could have been a conflict of interest? If I take on someone for my indie gaming site, I vet them to high-heaven. Imagine how the process is for the mainstream press. I trust MCV and Intent Media and had corruption ever been an issue, she wouldn't be working there.
Mainstream press? They are writing about fucking video games, not covering Barack Obama peace summit. Face reality.
 
This whole post is useless unless you name the site.

Show some backbone.
Not that at all if I name the site it's censored out man :p

Also I've given enough names and details you can google to find it, heck even said I had a God of War Chains of Olympus review rated at a 7.9 you can find it looking at gamerankings
 
Why would he be banned here for naming a corrupt website?

EDIT: Just google "naznatips games" to find the site he's referring to.

EDIT2: not worth the trouble

EDIT3: No I did not link to said website, I just merely placed an opinion on gaf's censorship policy regarding banning websites then decided to remove it due to it both not being topical and it's not really worth a potential ban if the conversation turns sour.
 
Because apparently the administration here feels we aren't mature enough to handle discussions about the website without censoring the links to them and banning the people who do link to them.

EDIT: Just google "naznatips games" to find the site he's referring to.
Eh, that's not the reason why it's censored.
 
What I'm trying to say is that readers are the most important thing to us, so there's no way any publicist would, or could sway an opinion to change reality, because that would be disgusting, and wouldn't be of benefit to the reader.
Everyone says this but it can't be true for everyone or else publicists would stop trying.
 
Eh, that's not the reason why it's censored.
Indeed, the reason is the numbers and the constant links to the sites numbers for discussion here. There was a huge falling out between both parties. Also I bet not supporting someone who has been banned here a number of times is probably a good reason to censor the site, which is why I refuse to directly reference it, given yes there still are rules to follow and I actually do like the community here, so why fuck up a good thing eh?
 
I know this is old but I just wanted to see this part in particular quoted:

Pat Garratt said:
  • No flights or hotels. We’ll no longer accept flights and payment for hotels from third-parties.
  • No hospitality. No more free bars. I mean, I’m sure there’ll be free bars. But our employees won’t be drinking at them. This rule also includes food. As of now, VG247 staff will buy their own vittles when they’re “in the field” wherever possible. If, for whatever reason, a VG247 staffer eats or drinks at the expense of a publisher, it’ll be disclosed.
  • Any gift over £50 disclosed. We regularly get sent promotional materials by games publishers. From now on, all “swag” will be either given away on the site or through social media, or donated to charity. This doesn’t include games, or at least it doesn’t include all of them. We need to play games a lot, and the only way we can keep up is through promos.
  • No engagement in publisher-held competitions. VG247 staff will never again enter a competition hosted by a publisher or platform-holder.
  • Any coverage resulting from press trips to be disclosed. Self-explanatory. If we do decide that we’re going to pay our own way to attend a publisher promo event, we’ll clearly say so in any resulting copy.
  • Writers will never report on companies or products in which they have financial interest, or on companies which employ family members or close friends. Most games journalists have friendly relationships with some publisher PR. As of now, those friendships will prevent staff members from writing about any related company’s products. Similarly, our staff will now not write about products and companies in which they have a vested interest: this includes any crowd-sourced projects they may have backed.
  • We will always protect the identity of our sources. VG247′s sources will never be disclosed it they speak to us under condition of anonymity. It’s normal that VG247 journalists’ sources aren’t even divulged internally.
  • A note on advertising. VG247 is always likely to be primarily funded by video games advertising, for reasons I hope are blatantly obvious. We will never carry advertorial. Our ads our sold by Eurogamer Network’s sales team, which is based in Brighton, UK, and is independent to VG247′s editorial staff.
http://www.vg247.com/2012/10/31/doritosgate-after-the-storm-lets-clean-ourselves-up/

A very good response, and the kind of tack I want to see more sites take. Well done VG247!
 
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