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

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Risette

A Good Citizen
Aug 27, 2007
12,350
0
0
It would be lovely to have some sort of Unified Code of Ethics, but that's not going to happen, and it's not really my place to tell colleagues and competitors what to do.

As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things. I don't really see it as my place to serve as an ombudsman or watchdog for other members of the press, and I'm sorry if that's disappointing to you. I'm much more interested -- and I think my readers are much more interested -- in games, the people who make them, and the stories surrounding them. And also JRPGs. Lots of JRPGs.
What's the word for this? Complacency?
 

JonathanEx

Member
Jan 5, 2006
13,636
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0
England
www.jonathancresswell.co.uk
This may be a shock to some people but there isn't one giant journalism bible of what is right ethically and what's the best practice of journalism and how it should done. While some things are more widely accepted than others, but there's not one standard.
 

jschreier

Member
Jan 6, 2011
4,045
0
0
www.twitter.com
Thanks for reply, and to be clear, I wasn't attacking you, just the talking point.

Anyhow, if one were to claim to be a professional journalist, you should have learned your "Unified Code of Ethics" in like your first year of undergraduate studies.

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Very simple stuff. Someone with a bachelor's degree should be able to get this.
As I'm sure this thread has taught us all, not everyone in this field has the same ethics. I would think it's pretty obvious that a reporter shouldn't be advertising a game on Twitter to win a PS3, but hey!
 

RionaaM

Unconfirmed Member
Jul 6, 2012
14,850
0
0
It's all about access. The magazines and sites want to cover the big games, the hyped games, because that's what brings in the readers/subscribers/viewers/hits/etc. The same goes for any part of the entertainment business, really. In order to GET this access, the press has to "play ball." Most game companies explicitly tell all their employees not to talk to the press under any circumstances. In many (most) cases, it's a fireable offense if they do. It's considered breaking an NDA, or violating confidentiality.

So, except for on rare occasions, when the rare enterprising reporter is able to contact the rare game company employee willing to speak (almost always off the record), the *only* way a press outlet is going to be able to get you those sweet, sweet Assassin's Creed screen shots is by dealing with the game companies' official spokespeople/representatives---i.e., by going through the PR departments. Piss off the PR departments, and say goodbye to your access. Believe me, I know. I had it happen to me multiple times at CGW. "Playing ball" can even include showing up at whatever stupid, contrived "media event" the PR department has organized as part of the marketing plan. Should a press outlet actually decide that, hey, they'd rather actually decide for themselves what's news, and maybe that event is some kind of horseshit thing they'd rather not attend, there can be repercussions for that too. Again, I had it happen to me personally. ("You don't want to attend? FINE! We'll give the next screens to your competitors!")

In short, if an outlet decides that part of their editorial mission is to provide you with the latest/greatest "sneak peeks", screens, "first looks", whateverthefuck, if they decide they'd rather you get it from THEM rather than their competition, then they better suck it up and play along. You wanna defy them? Good luck getting access. The game companies hold all the cards. (And again--this is no different from other entertainment fields--movies, music, TV, etc.)

Now, some companies are better, more open, less dickly than others. Some will let their designers speak a little more off the cuff (rather than following scripted bullet points). Some will provide a remarkable degree of candor, or a level of access normally not seen. But, for the most part, they have little incentive to do so. They've got the press by the proverbial short hairs.

But the press certainly has some choice, in some matters. You do NOT have to accept free shit. You do not have to tweet with the hashtags the companies tell you to. You do not have to take even one free drink or travel on their dime. You can play ball without compromising your own personal integrity. But you ALSO have to acknowledge that, to some extent, you ARE playing ball, and that it is not always going to look particularly noble or brave. That's why you have to try extra hard not to do dumb shit, not to LOOK like the shill you're desperately trying not to be. Because everyone else thinks you are. Including some of the companies you're covering. THEY see you as part of their marketing plan.

Others have said it better than I the last couple days, including Jim Sterling in his great piece. But this was just me helping to answer the "how it came to this" in the post quoted above.
Wow, it's nice to hear this explanation from someone who had experienced that stuff. It sounds like the media outlets are kinda held hostages, forced to play by the PR's rules or miss out on some new info. I wish everyone did what you said on your second-to-last paragraph, not sucking on everything the companies want you to. Show some independence, and maybe they'll gain some respect back from gamers.
 

RedNumberFive

Banned
Oct 6, 2006
9,556
0
0
Chicagoland
This may be a shock to some people but there isn't one giant journalism bible of what is right ethically and what's the best practice of journalism and how it should done. While some things are more widely accepted than others, but there's not one standard.
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

It's like you guys don't even try. Enough excuses for the unprofessional behavior. You're better than that.
 

Victrix

*beard*
Sep 1, 2005
7,657
0
0
Er... did anyone point him at this thread?

Wow, it's nice to hear this explanation from someone who had experienced that stuff. It sounds like the media outlets are kinda held hostages, forced to play by the PR's rules or miss out on some new info. I wish everyone did what you said on your second-to-last paragraph, not sucking on everything the companies want you to. Show some independence, and maybe they'll gain some respect back from gamers.
Respect does not pay bills
 

conman

Member
Aug 12, 2007
4,591
0
0
PAR did a synopsis of the situation, but the majority of the article is just that -- a summary of what's happened. He doesn't dedicate a whole lot of column space to providing his own views as far as the situation.
As it should be. I'm not expecting opinion pieces, since we'll get more than enough of those from bloggers and forum posters. Just some basic acknowledgement that this happened and is happening (and perhaps some acknowledgement of the current state of ethical standards in the industry with respect to PR).
 

SolidSnakex

Member
Jun 7, 2004
85,527
1
0
http://bit.ly/SeKcXw

Assasin's Creed 3 already has a big fan!
Rounding out the whole package is a beautifully detailed letter written by a top Ubisoft exec. These flags are rare, make no mistake about it. This isn't the cheapy flag that will come packed in the CE version of the ACIII game. Instead, flags like this one were given only to select members of the press, retail partners, and they were likely also handed out internally within Ubisoft.
I have personally been able to document a grand total of 14 of these flags (including the flag in this listing.)
I found that, for instance, the offices of Giant Bomb, EGM, and Destructoid were each sent one of these flags.
Amazing!
 
You haven't asked! I can't speak for anyone else at Kotaku or elsewhere, but I'm happy to talk about my relationships with PR or any other questions you have for me. Secrets are lame.

I'm leaving the office now and I might not get to every post here when I get back (this site moves very fast!) but if you want to ask me something, feel free to ping me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jasonschreier) or by e-mail (jason@kotaku.com).
Listen, as I have told you before; I think you write great columns wherever they may end up (Joystiq, kotaku, etc) but there was a better way for you to respond to the topic at hand on twitter than just shoving it off as a joke. This is an important issue in the industry when it basically dictates how press conveys game information to their readers. If I wanted to just be sold something, I would watch a trailer, not read an article. This won't impact the way I read and enjoy your stories, but it definitely makes me wonder if you care that the industry is a wreck around you.
 

conman

Member
Aug 12, 2007
4,591
0
0
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

It's like you guys don't even try. Enough excuses for the unprofessional behavior. You're better than that.
I can hear them now: "But... But... But... we're not journalists!"

Said it before, and I'll say it again. It's one thing for us readers to say they're not journalists, but it's another thing altogether for them to say it about themselves. When we say it, we're simply reminding ourselves of the relative unimportance of games in the world at large. But when they say it, it's an excuse that absolves them of any ethical standards or responsibilities.
 

entremet

Banned
Dec 6, 2008
85,467
129
1,205
I thought this was understood. Remember the 1up Show, and all the swag stuff in the ZD Offices?
 

Corto

Member
Dec 5, 2008
14,974
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850
www.neogaf.com
As I'm sure this thread has taught us all, not everyone in this field has the same ethics. I would think it's pretty obvious that a reporter shouldn't be advertising a game on Twitter to win a PS3, but hey!
One more reason to try to unify your behavior and not let it rest on an individual decision on how to act properly in your professional relations.
 

Victrix

*beard*
Sep 1, 2005
7,657
0
0
Someone did in the comments in here.
Ok, just wanted to make sure he was aware that plenty of people are pretty disgusted by the whole thing. It'd be a shame if he was feeling completely isolated.

I mean I assume he reads GAF, but who knows, this place isn't healthy for your brain.
 

RedNumberFive

Banned
Oct 6, 2006
9,556
0
0
Chicagoland
$2,000 out of 10!

There is absolutely no way that shit like this doesn't influence someone's decision. In the back of your mind will be a voice saying, if i give it a good score, they'll send me more stuff!
As I said earlier. Those press kits aren't any different than sending a wad of money with the review copy.
 

JonathanEx

Member
Jan 5, 2006
13,636
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0
England
www.jonathancresswell.co.uk
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

It's like you guys don't even try. Enough excuses for the unprofessional behavior. You're better than that.
I wasn't excusing any behaviour. Merely trying to emphasis that there's no black or white 'right' answer in ethics, or journalism in general.

That is the guidelines of one code of ethics. For one group. Yes - voluntarily followed by many. I said that there may be some practices where there's fairly wide agreement on it, non?

Look in the UK. We have different ethical code of conducts for broadcast and then for the press in general. If there was one-size-fits-all world view, that wouldn't happen.
 

CzarTim

Member
Jul 9, 2008
10,023
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0
Wow, it's nice to hear this explanation from someone who had experienced that stuff. It sounds like the media outlets are kinda held hostages, forced to play by the PR's rules or miss out on some new info. I wish everyone did what you said on your second-to-last paragraph, not sucking on everything the companies want you to. Show some independence, and maybe they'll gain some respect back from gamers.
Do gamers really care? I mean, most gamers don't follow the industry closely and will have no idea about any of this happened. There is a reason so many get their news from people like Hannity/Maddow rather than a more neutral source.
 

jschreier

Member
Jan 6, 2011
4,045
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www.twitter.com
Listen, as I have told you before; I think you write great columns wherever they may end up (Joystiq, kotaku, etc) but there was a better way for you to respond to the topic at hand on twitter than just shoving it off as a joke. This is an important issue in the industry when it basically dictates how press conveys game information to their readers. If I wanted to just be sold something, I would watch a trailer, not read an article. This won't impact the way I read and enjoy your stories, but it definitely makes me wonder if you care that the industry is a wreck around you.
I think that's a fair point! But Twitter arguments are never a good idea. For now, I've posted some of my thoughts here in this thread, and really, my opinions pretty much echo what John Walker has so eloquently written (as I told him privately the other day) - http://botherer.org/
 

Bobby Roberts

Banned
Feb 13, 2012
48,423
0
0
41
Portland, OR
geekremixed.com
You haven't asked! I can't speak for anyone else at Kotaku or elsewhere, but I'm happy to talk about my relationships with PR or any other questions you have for me. Secrets are lame.

I'm leaving the office now and I might not get to every post here when I get back (this site moves very fast!) but if you want to ask me something, feel free to ping me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jasonschreier) or by e-mail (jason@kotaku.com).
You can't say "People don't wanna read about it" and then feign like nobody's interested in it when you're trying to engage GAF readers in extended discussion on the topic on it's 66th page.

It's a pretty safe bet Kotaku has published stories that spun directly out of GAF threads with way lower page counts, almost equally as safe as the idea Kotaku (and other game sites) typically use GAF as a barometer for interest in stories.
 

Lime

Member
Apr 27, 2008
26,894
0
0
To give an example of a game journalist from Eurogamer who does seem to consider this an important debate:

Hey Robert, Kami from EG here.

[...]

But it happened. The images are now out there and we can all draw our own conclusions from them. There are no winners, and I feel terrible that you lost a fantastic gig for effectively hitting a nerve. And we need to. If we can’t point out the hypocrisy in ourselves and others, what is the point? Aren’t we all just glorified PR middle-men at that point, paid and/or unpaid? We want things to be better, right? Sometimes, that means telling the truth. The problem is it appears the adage of the truth hurting is now being volleyed back at those seeking the truth, and that concerns me. And it is good men like you who and Tom who are taking the explosion head-on. It begs the question… can people like me, who write for the love of it, and want to somehow maybe move beyond that, ever survive in this market? I’m not sure compromise is really a word I can live by…
http://botherer.org/2012/10/26/guest-post-robert-florence-on-the-last-few-days/
 

Dennis

Banned
Jul 7, 2009
46,557
1
0
As I said earlier. Those press kits aren't any different than sending a wad of money with the review copy.
I always found a wad of cash in a plain vanilla envelope to be a lot more dignified.



It says right there in the press kit, "Thank you for igniting unprecedented consumer interest in Assassin's Creed III, which is sure to break plenty of sales records this holiday."

That's good times!
Shameless.
 

arena08

Member
Nov 6, 2006
1,388
0
0
Do gamers really care? I mean, most gamers don't follow the industry closely and will have no idea about any of this happened. There is a reason so many get their news from people like Hannity/Maddow rather than a more neutral source.
Report it and let them decide if they care or not.
 

RedNumberFive

Banned
Oct 6, 2006
9,556
0
0
Chicagoland
I wasn't excusing any behaviour. Merely trying to emphasis that there's no black or white 'right' answer in ethics, or journalism in general.

That is the guidelines of one code of ethics. For one group. Yes - voluntarily followed by many. I said that there may be some practices where there's fairly wide agreement on it, non?

Look in the UK. We have different ethical code of conducts for broadcast and then for the press in general. If there was one-size-fits-all world view, that wouldn't happen.
Again with the excuses.

It is absolutely black and white. You either have good ethics and don't participate in activities that cause a conflict of interest, or you don't. These extremely basic principles don't disappear when crossing borders.
 

benny_a

extra source of jiggaflops
Apr 25, 2009
17,350
0
0
As for Kotaku covering this, I can't speak for the site or anyone else on it, but I can say that I'm personally just more interested in spending my time writing about other things.
I'm not going to write about you personally but I find there is a statistical anomaly, that seemingly nobody is interested in it or feels compelled to write about it.

Kotaku, GameSpot, IGN & <insert list big video game site here> all seem to not have any issue whatsoever of re-writing press releases they get sent to them every single day.

I'm going to assume that this is not the most fun one can have as a writer but it's being done every day all year long.

Also we know that a lot of writers for the above sites read NeoGAF (let's just count the ones that actively respond here and follow the @NeoGAFNewThread twitter account)

Isn't it strange that this topic is not being posted about on the well-frequented video game sites?
It's one of the most viewed threads on this forum.

Even if you take the position that your readers wouldn't care. Isn't the point of a critic to inform the public?
 

SolidSnakex

Member
Jun 7, 2004
85,527
1
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That is one way to put it....
I'm genuinely amazed at how nice press kits always look. THAT'S what people want to pay $150 for. Instead we continue to end up with half assed statues and other cheap things that they decide to throw in.
 

Foffy

Banned
May 14, 2009
22,564
1
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You can't say "People don't wanna read about it" and then feign like nobody's interested in it when you're trying to engage GAF readers in extended discussion on the topic on it's 66th page.

It's a pretty safe bet Kotaku has published stories that spun directly out of GAF threads with way lower page counts, almost equally as safe as the idea Kotaku (and other game sites) typically use GAF as a barometer for interest in stories.
Gotta pick and choose. Stupid story unrelated to video games? Brian Ashcraft's got it! Story about how gaming journalism heavily and awkwardly overlaps with PR? "Readers don't care, stupid!"
 

JonathanEx

Member
Jan 5, 2006
13,636
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England
www.jonathancresswell.co.uk
Again with the excuses.

It is absolutely black and white. You either have good ethics and don't participate in activities that cause a conflict of interest, or you don't. These extremely basic principles don't disappear when crossing borders.
For someone who's insistent on ethics, claiming I'm making excuses when you have no idea what my views are on the actual actions being discussed is fair? :p

Now find me the universal guide to what constitutes a conflict of interest. I'm not trying to defend any specific actions that someone has taken, but as Jason said, some see things differently - even the small ones
 

GillianSeed79

Member
Jan 8, 2009
8,636
0
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Personal limits are a big part of being a reporter, in any field.

Point is: it's unfair to dismiss all of game journalism as corrupt because of incidents like this, or because some people have different standards than others, or because some people believe that some compromises are OK. Just like how it'd be unfair to look at this thread and say "Wow, GAF is a bunch of generalizing assholes." See what I'm saying?
While I agree that's unfair to dismiss all game journalists as corrupt, personal limits actually aren't a big part of being a reporter. The reason is because your employer should be setting those limits, not individual reporters. Your limits shouldn't be tested because they should be there in black and white for every reporter. Things like the no to press junkets policy is a good start. For lunch or food there should be a policy like a $10 gift policy just so that there is no confusion. If it's a case where it's like, oh, hey, we've got some subs and chips if you guys are hungry then it's not that big of a deal. The problem is the hypothetical, oh by the way guys we've got steaks, champagne and lobster for everyone. That's a big no, no. I don't think it's wrong to go out to eat with someone in PR or somone you are interviewing, but you should never accept the person's offer to pay your bill. It's small, simple stuff like that goes a long way.

A lot of these universal rules are present in other fields of more traditional journalism. One problem I see with games journalism is that there are no universal ground rules for everyone. So while you might be fighting the good fight and refusing the lobster and champagne banquet or the free PR swag, there are 10 other "game journalists/bloggers" who just don't give a shit and give everyone else a bad name. They should be the outliers, not the accepted norm.

And when something like this does happen in Eurogamer's case, where the shadier side of the industry is exposed, it should be reported on by everyone instead of just sweeping it under the rug.
 

Dennis

Banned
Jul 7, 2009
46,557
1
0
Gotta pick and choose. Stupid story unrelated to video games? Brian Ashcraft's got it! Story about how gaming journalism heavily and awkwardly overlaps with PR? "Readers don't care, stupid!"
Nailed it.

The "our readers won't care" line rings false to me. More like "oh shit! we're not touching this!"
 

Gomu Gomu

Member
Jul 16, 2008
8,291
0
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Listen, as I have told you before; I think you write great columns wherever they may end up (Joystiq, kotaku, etc) but there was a better way for you to respond to the topic at hand on twitter than just shoving it off as a joke. This is an important issue in the industry when it basically dictates how press conveys game information to their readers. If I wanted to just be sold something, I would watch a trailer, not read an article. This won't impact the way I read and enjoy your stories, but it definitely makes me wonder if you care that the industry is a wreck around you.
So far we've had:

2 who said: I'm not a journalist, so I'm not going to write about it.
2 who said: Our readers are not interested.
1 who said: It's not up to me to write about it. I'll let someone else handle it.
1 who said: I like writing about games not game journalists.

I think it's pretty clear that big gamin media writers are full of excuses, and don't care about this subject and just want it to die. One can only asks why.
 

Ledsen

Member
Mar 25, 2007
12,259
2
0
Sweden
I'm not going to write about you personally but I find there is a statistical anomaly, that seemingly nobody is interested in it or feels compelled to write about it.

Kotaku, GameSpot, IGN & <insert list big video game site here> all seem to not have any issue whatsoever of re-writing press releases they get sent to them every single day.

I'm going to assume that this is not the most fun one can have as a writer but it's being done every day all year long.

Also we know that a lot of writers for the above sites read NeoGAF (let's just count the ones that actively respond here and follow the @NeoGAFNewThread twitter account)

Isn't it strange that this topic is not being posted about on the well-frequented video game sites?
It's one of the most viewed threads on this forum.

Even if you take the position that your readers wouldn't care. Isn't the point of a critic to inform the public?
Great posts. Needs an answer.

So far we've had:

2 who said: I'm not a journalist, so I'm not going to write about it.
2 who said: Our readers are not interested.
1 who said: It's not up to me to write about it. I'll let someone else handle it.
1 who said: I like writing about games not game journalists.

I think it's pretty clear that big gamin media writers are full of excuses, and don't care about this subject and just want it to die. One can only asks why.
Do you have any links to those posts?
 

Lancehead

Member
Oct 27, 2011
2,788
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0
Nailed it.

The "our readers won't care" line rings false to me. More like "oh shit! we're not touching this!"
It would be interesting put this comment next to the one you made about press treating gamers with certain contempt.
 
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