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

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it sure seems like the folks left commenting are just looking for any negative take they can find in what I've written.
I know it can seem that way, but this is a long thread filled with lots of voices from a lot of places with a lot of opinions. On the page you posted this reply, I see very few repeat posters. You've actually posted more than anyone else. ;)

I know it can be tempting to try to tie up these threads with a neat narrative ("Welp, that's it! Nothing more can be said! Guess we're done here!"), but that's one of the remarkable things about this community. It doesn't resolve into pithy values or opinions very easily. Threads wrap up naturally, usually when they do in fact spiral to just one or two people talking in circles. But we're not there yet.

We're not picking on you. You chose to post here. And you're the editor of a major gaming site. Are you surprised we would analyze your words so closely? Especially in light of what this thread and whole issue is about: journalistic integrity.

And I don't think many here would say that you don't have integrity. You clearly do. But don't you think it's strange that you and most of your peers at other outlets are treating this the way that they are? Dismissing people like us as "cartoonish" crackpots. Rolling your eyes at the same "tired" complaints. Refusing to acknowledge that there's a problem with the industry as a whole and that this is a great opportunity to start the long, hard work of chipping away at it. You're a journalist. That work should be public. You have a responsibility and an obligation to your readers. Those aren't things I think you take lightly. At least, I hope not.
 
How can this possibly be so hard to understand?

Like a doctor's duty is to a patient, or a lawyer's duty is to their client, a journalist's duty should always be to their reader.

To fulfil this duty, journalists typically are to report stories that are relevant to their reader's interest - in your case, games. Normally, videogame journalists should write about videogames, to readers interested in videogames.

But right now, the integrity of your writing is in question. That is not something you're allowed to wave away as "irrelevant" and therefore not write about it. Just because it isn't directly about games, does not make it any less pertinent to the interests of your readers. To start, the idea that this isn't interesting for people interested in videogames falls apart under a feather of scrutiny. Unless you don't consider NeoGAF a community of people interested in videogames, and therefore not part of your audience, this is a nearly 5000 post topic on the subject. In what way, shape or form does this indicate a lack of interest? Furthermore, the idea that you can ignore it because you don't think the audience cares is bullshit. Your job is not to decide for the reader what they think is interesting. Your job is to report on things that are relevant and let the readers decide if they are interested. If the integrity of videogames journalism is at risk, then your readers, your charges to whom you are responsible to, are at risk of being misled. That is as relevant as it gets. This impacts all of your readers, as they are all consumers of this videogames journalism that is being tainted with the stench of corruption. They have the right to know. and you have the duty to tell them. As journalists, it should be your onus to inform them of that, approaching the subject with the objectivity that should have been instilled in your pursuit of this career.

By failing to write about this topic, and in particular, this event, videogames journalist are failing their audience. I don't know how much simpler it can get.
 
How can this possibly be so hard to understand?

Like a doctor's duty is to a patient, or a lawyer's duty is to their client, a journalist's duty should always be to their reader.

To fulfil this duty, journalists typically are to report stories that are relevant to their reader's interest - in your case, games. Normally, videogame journalists should write about videogames, to readers interested in videogames.

But right now, the integrity of your writing is in question. That is not something you're allowed to wave away as "irrelevant" and therefore not write about it. Just because it isn't directly about games, does not make it any less pertinent to the interests of your readers. To start, the idea that this isn't interesting for people interested in videogames falls apart under a feather of scrutiny. Unless you don't consider NeoGAF a community of people interested in videogames, and therefore not part of your audience, this is a nearly 5000 post topic on the subject. In what way, shape or form does this indicate a lack of interest? Furthermore, the idea that you can ignore it because you don't think the audience cares is bullshit. Your job is not to decide for the reader what they think is interesting. Your job is to report on things that are relevant and let the readers decide if they are interested. If the integrity of videogames journalism is at risk, then your readers, your charges to whom you are responsible to, are at risk of being misled. That is as relevant as it gets. This impacts all of your readers, as they are all consumers of this videogames journalism that is being tainted with the stench of corruption. They have the right to know. and you have the duty to tell them. As journalists, it should be your onus to inform them of that, approaching the subject with the objectivity that should have been instilled in your pursuit of this career.

By failing to write about this topic, and in particular, this event, videogames journalist are failing their audience. I don't know how much simpler it can get.
I guess the difference is that being good to your reader doesn't bring you money or good exclusives.
 
No I certainly did not. I used Twitter to joke around, as many people use Twitter. Nowhere on my Twitter feed have I shared my feelings on this issue.

You shouldn't ignore my tweets. Judge them however you'd like. But don't jump to the conclusion that Twitter is the sole barometer for my opinions or feelings on any issue. That's insane.
A big part of the original article was how making careless public comments could make you look bad and untrustworthy. Your reaction to it was to make careless public comments which , well...
 
Wow this thread exploded. Didn't expect the Kotaku guys to come in here either, especially complaining about that we didn't like their SK article ENOUGH.

Don't worry Kotaku, I appreciate your

hard

hitting

journalism.

Kotaku has some good stuff, true, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
 
I don't have a limit, but then again we don't accept stuff from publishers other than games we're sent for review/coverage. We never ask for swag. As I mentioned previously, if we get some, we give it away or just throw it out. Occasionally I'll mention some of it on the site, but any time we do that it's obviously falling for the PR ploy of giving the game extra publicity. I ran a video of the Street Fighter chess set because I figured readers would like to see it and it's an item that Capcom sells, so readers could get a better sense of whether it was worth buying for themselves. Now I have no idea what to do with it. I'd never just take it home and use it as my personal chess set because that'd be crossing the line. So it sits in its box in the office. Our company does charity giveaways, so I often just pile up excess swag for that.
Forbes actually used this as an example of influence in their article.

Forbes said:
Often the influence of publishers over game reviewers is more subtle.

Sometimes it comes in the form of gifts. Apparently some video game writers not only receive review copies of games, they receive a bunch of swag on the side - like expensive chess sets for instance.
So it's not like GAF are the only ones that are being critical.
 
Ok. Fair enough. Cartoonish.. whatever. I don't even know what people said. I never read back beyond when people were posting fun images of my unboxing.

Yes, the origin of this is the GMAs which I still haven't done proper reporting on so I can't comment on the elements about it that raise my eyebrows and certainly am not able to run a story on it. More recently in this thread it's been implied that I'm a liar and incompetent because I chose not to have my team report this story last week and prioritized other reporting efforts instead.

I'm mainly here at this point to clear up concerns about my outlet. I have ideas about how to report a story on this, but it's not something I'm spending my Saturday doing, nor is it likely to result in a story early next week. For better or worse, the overall "problems with games journalism" story isn't going away, so there's no huge rush. This thread did at one point turn into someone saying that I was denying climate change while the jungles were burning. I hope that was a metaphor!
Are you fucking kidding me? You come in here with your righteous indignation, contradictory statements about hysteria but no interest, and general woe is us attitude, and then you have the balls to post this?

You don't know what people said?

How about you find out before commenting?

Forbes actually used this as an example of influence in their article.



So it's not like GAF are the only ones that are being critical.
That is a great read too.
 
I appreciate him participating at all. The thread is pretty big, so it's not surprising the hasn't read it all.
No, you are right there, I do appreciate that. But uninformed commenting is just noise and deserves no consideration.

If he took an hour to read the thread before jumping in he might actually know what is being discussed, rather than swanning through with rubbish defensive posts.
 
If the journalists think "is this ethical?" even a little bit more before doing something now, it was worth a 100 page discussion.

And they will, if even if its just the next few things they do. Maybe that idea will stick around though and they'll be better for it.

They'd probably never admit it though.
 
Crazy interesting thread. Glad I wondered over from the Off topic.

I always forget the staggering number of journalist and likely PR people that post here. It gets confusing trying to tie GAF accounts to blogs, websites, and twitter accounts in major industry threads such as this.
 
We need to go DEEPER

The current state of GJ didn't happen overnight, it evolved ever since the inception of gaming.


The REAL ROOT of the problem is twofold. And this is what seperates GJ from regular newspaper style journalism and it is these two issues that created the current state.


1. Unlike tradtional news outlets that gain revenue from a variety of advertising, GJ gets revenue ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY from the very products and companies they are sopposed to be objective about. There are no Rogaine or flashlight ads in gaming mags or blogs. This makes sense of course, as people reading about games would be surely interested in buying them.
But the problem is Ad space isnt purchased by faceless Ad companies that run block ads for different games. But rather PR firms representing INDIVIDUAL games and companies. As such it is all to easy to be threatened loss of ad revenue if certain games get poor reviews.


2. In regular news reporting, you report on issues, interview politicans, or just show up at crime scenes and roll. In GJ to review and more importantly PREVIEW games you need...the GAMES. Companies hold previews and review code hostage for good reviews. If you dont comply, you get no exclusive previews and get no review code, have to buy the game yourself and get your review out late and thus be irrelevant.
There is no system in place, no checks or balances, no law stating that all review companies must get review copies at the same time, or at all. So unless ALL OF GJ band together (which would never happen) and say we no longer accept review copies or we must all get review copies this will always be an issue.


These two problems have ALWAYS been here. And if anything the switch from print to digital GJ has made this WORSE. Because its far easier to hold ads hostage to the last second, and to remove ads with the push of a button as opposed to print, where once a issue is printed its done.
 
A big part of the original article was how making careless public comments could make you look bad and untrustworthy. Your reaction to it was to make careless public comments which , well...
I hate to quote myself, but I'd like to expand on this point, in the hopes that some of the press people reading this might understand the situation better.

There is often a disconnect of perception and reality when it comes to your readership's trust.

While it's true that for the consumer, the reality of whether a member of the press is corrupter or compromised is ultimately what's important -- For the journalist, the perception of impropriety is far more important.

When a member of the press does public things or makes public comments that give readers the impression of behind-the-scenes shenanigans, it serves to harm the reputation (and thus the livelihood) of the journalist in question. This is your job. Your livelihood. You should be protecting your reputation at all costs, because it's the only thing keeping you employed.

What you actually do ethically is also obviously important, but even if you're above board, you can sabotage yourself by saying foolish things (even twitter jokes) that undermine your position. You should not only be thinking, "Is this ethical?" when taking actions, but you should also be thinking, "Will this appear unethical? Could it potentially harm my reputation?" when making statements in any public forum.
 
No, you are right there, I do appreciate that. But uninformed commenting is just noise and deserves no consideration.

If he took an hour to read the thread before jumping in he might actually know what is being discussed, rather than swanning through with rubbissh defensive posts.
To be fair, journalists can be a defensive lot. I'm not a game journalist, but I know what the persecution complex feels like. I'm sure a lot of the eye-rolling from game journalists is the same eye-rolling reuglar reporters do when they are accused of having a liberal or conservative bias. I'm sure it's easy for Stephen to become instantly defensive when he thinks that all this hub-bub is about a screen cap of a Halo 4 LE console unboxing or that Kotaku is being singled out. It's not. There's a wider problem within videogame journalism. These 4,000 plus posts aren't just about Kotaku. Hell it's not even just about Keighley sitting in front of some Doritos and Mountain Dew or Wainright. These are all just illustrations of a wider problem.

I don't know if you are going to read this or not Stephen, but this is the thing I'm upset about. I don't expect you to read an 87 page plus thread in one day. Like 40 plus pages ago I complained to Arthur from Polygon that I'm sick of gaming blogs and sites getting sent PR kits or elaborate LE consoles and them doing an unboxing saying "look at this cool shit!"

The Silicon Knights story was a great story, but within 24 hours there was literally a $500 LE Halo 4 console unboxing. That. Shit. Is. Not. Cool. And. It's. Unprofessional.

I know full well a lot of these issues exist in traditional journalism. Yes, it can be any beat where you run the risk of getting too close to the subjects you are covering. Brian started out on the cops beat, so I'm sure he knew full well how hard it was to walk the tightrope of maintaining access and not pissing off your sources. Yes, these are struggles that every journalist faces.

The issue is that a lot of the perception that game journalists are crooked could be avoided if there was just some basic code of ethics and transparency. You guys aren't doing yourselves a lot of favors when pictures of these press kits surface and then pretending like they don't give the impression of influence.
 
How can this possibly be so hard to understand?

Like a doctor's duty is to a patient, or a lawyer's duty is to their client, a journalist's duty should always be to their reader.

To fulfil this duty, journalists typically are to report stories that are relevant to their reader's interest - in your case, games. Normally, videogame journalists should write about videogames, to readers interested in videogames.

But right now, the integrity of your writing is in question. That is not something you're allowed to wave away as "irrelevant" and therefore not write about it. Just because it isn't directly about games, does not make it any less pertinent to the interests of your readers. To start, the idea that this isn't interesting for people interested in videogames falls apart under a feather of scrutiny. Unless you don't consider NeoGAF a community of people interested in videogames, and therefore not part of your audience, this is a nearly 5000 post topic on the subject. In what way, shape or form does this indicate a lack of interest? Furthermore, the idea that you can ignore it because you don't think the audience cares is bullshit. Your job is not to decide for the reader what they think is interesting. Your job is to report on things that are relevant and let the readers decide if they are interested. If the integrity of videogames journalism is at risk, then your readers, your charges to whom you are responsible to, are at risk of being misled. That is as relevant as it gets. This impacts all of your readers, as they are all consumers of this videogames journalism that is being tainted with the stench of corruption. They have the right to know. and you have the duty to tell them. As journalists, it should be your onus to inform them of that, approaching the subject with the objectivity that should have been instilled in your pursuit of this career.

By failing to write about this topic, and in particular, this event, videogames journalist are failing their audience. I don't know how much simpler it can get.
This. Guy. Gets. It.

Several times now we've seen the excuse that this story isn't being covered by other sites because it's dismissed as "inside baseball industry drama" / "media on media violence" or "not interesting to our readers".

I think this is very short sighted on the journalists part. They're choosing to see the potential story only from the angle that it affects them as journalists not how these actions of impropriety affects their readers.

If the story is presented in the way journalists have outlined above, of course it will have little interest to their readers. But at it's heart this isn't a journalism story, it's a consumer story.

It's a consumer story about how far companies are willing to go to make their product attractive to consumers and using questionable methods to do so.

This is why the story here and on other message boards has legs because consumers want to spend their money wisely on products that deserve it. They don't want to be misled by snake oil salesmen.

If a publisher or web site has acted inappropriately this could easily mean that people will avoid that publisher or website in the future rather than risk consuming more fruit from the poisoned tree or drinking more water from the tainted well.

As a consumer of video games I would say this is a very big story and one that all websites should be itching to cover if they really understood their audiences as they like to allude to. If only to assure their readers that they have not acted inappropriately in the past.

Whether they can cover the story and do it justice with all the skeletons rattling around in their closets is another matter however.
 
To be fair, journalists can be a defensive lot. I'm not a game journalist, but I know what the persecution complex feels like. I'm sure a lot of the eye-rolling from game journalists is the same eye-rolling reuglar reporters do when they are accused of having a liberal or conservative bias. I'm sure it's easy for Stephen to become instantly defensive when he thinks that all this hub-bub is about a screen cap of a Halo 4 LE console unboxing or that Kotaku is being singled out. It's not. There's a wider problem within videogame journalism. These 4,000 plus posts aren't just about Kotaku. Hell it's not even just about Keighley sitting in front of some Doritos and Mountain Dew or Wainright. These are all just illustrations of a wider problem.

I don't know if you are going to read this or not Stephen, but this is the thing I'm upset about. I don't expect you to read an 87 page plus thread in one day. Like 40 plus pages ago I complained to Arthur from Polygon that I'm sick of gaming blogs and sites getting sent PR kits or elaborate LE consoles and them doing an unboxing saying "look at this cool shit!"

The Silicon Knights story was a great story, but within 24 hours there was literally a $500 LE Halo 4 console unboxing. That. Shit. Is. Not. Cool. And. It's. Unprofessional.

I know full well a lot of these issues exist in traditional journalism. Yes, it can be any beat where you run the risk of getting too close to the subjects you are covering. Brian started out on the cops beat, so I'm sure he knew full well how hard it was to walk the tightrope of maintaining access and not pissing off your sources. Yes, these are struggles that every journalist faces.

The issue is that a lot of the perception that game journalists are crooked could be avoided if there was just some basic code of ethics and transparency. You guys aren't doing yourselves a lot of favors when pictures of these press kits surface and then pretending like they don't give the impression of influence.
Yeah, I don't think it is not understandable, but as you say, the point is being missed utterly by being so obtuse and defensive. It is not about Kotaku, it is not about moneyhats. It is about crappy standards in most of the major coverage.

This is an issue in any kind of enthusiast press. I would say it's arguably worse in other industries.
It's very bad in the firearms press, and pretty bad in the motoring press, but they are reviewing items that cost thousands of dollars, every week. They are more dependant on manufacturer demos than game reviews have to be. I understand game reviewers are dependant if they want early access, and that is something consumers should lobby about. Stop demanding day 0 reviews, wait a week after release for reviews, and stop the ridiculous churn through.
 
stephentotilo said:
Why isn't the thread about our Silicon Knights story this long, NeoGAF? Sweeping that one under the rug?
Isn't this part of the problem though? Silicon Knights is a non-entity. They have no way of leveraging publishers or PR to retaliate for your story.

Why can we only get well-researched critical articles on studios in their death throes?
 
Figured I'd share this: http://checkthis.com/82qo. Wrote it earlier this morning. Grabbing some sleep but will check the thread in the morning.
Excellent article. If you can't see some of the issues being pointed out here with regards to ethics you clearly are a lost cause.

I can't help but hear in my head after that headline:

1st rule of video games journalism is you do not talk about VIDEO GAMES JOURNALISM.

2nd rule of video games journalism You DO NOT talk about VIDEO GAMES JOURNALISM.
 
Why isn't the thread about our Silicon Knights story this long, NeoGAF? Sweeping that one under the rug?
This thread was never about Kotaku alone. This thread is much bigger, and has gone through so many issues throughout the days it's been active. This post summarizes it best:

Also, I love how every journalist has dismissed this story because the facts are too unclear or because it's "inside baseball" or just industry drama. THAT COMPLETELY MISSES THE POINT.

When Florence wrote his piece, it wasn't about Geoff's dumb picture, he merely used that as a starting point for a larger discussion.

This story isn't about Florence/Wainright, that's merely the starting point for a larger discussion.

The problem is that journalists don't want to have that larger discussion because it's painful. No one wants to talk about how to alleviate climate change, for example, because every solution is painful. People have to make sacrifices. Give up things that have made them very comfortable. So instead of arguing about the solution, opponents stall the discussion at whether climate change is even occurring, disregarding all of the evidence, because if people have to fight about Step 1 (admitting the problem) then they'll never get to Step 2 (fixing the problem).

THIS IS WHAT TOTILO ET AL ARE DOING. We have 100 pages of arguing that this should be a story (when all facts show that it is!), not 100 pages of what Jason and Stephen are going to do to fix it.

Totilo is telling us that there is no climate change (this isn't a story, no one's interested, there is no pervasive symbiosis, we do lots of other 'real' stories) while the jungles burn and the ice caps melt around him. He'll grow gills and recycle his own urine long before he ever admits anything is wrong, because admitting that something's wrong is the easy part. Fixing it is the awful, painful process.

And why should he even bother to try? Just like global warming, no one person can fix the problem--if Totilo doesn't unbox that X-Box, someone else will.
.

Please read the links in the OP. Please understand why this thread is much bigger than your SK one, which I loved btw. Please be the first major gaming website that brings this to light on their front page. Please let your readers know and think about this subject. Please give them enough credit to make them form their own opinions about it.

Or not. Just do like what every other major website has done. Ignore the articles/issues, by not spending any time to understand what it actually is about, and make hollow excuses. I mean seriously, who wants to take a good look at themselves and their website's ethics, right? Who wants to be bothered in something, that eventually going to piss off you peers and your PR connections?
 
Sorry for the double post. But I feel these two posts need to be quoted for the new page:

A few personal observations and comments in no particular order:


1) Yes, you can tell PR folks just to send you the games. I've had this discussion with PR in the past and I'll probably have it again in the future. Most "swag" is crap, though t-shirts are useful for the gym. Getting the game early is always the most important thing.

Does this mean I've always turned down swag over the years? No. Most of it gets given away or thrown away (when I've worked at an office it usually went to interns, when I've worked freelance it would either go to Goodwill, friends, or if particularly valuable, be given away on one of the outlets I was writing for).

That said, I have kept a handful of things over the years. My favorite piece is a laser etched plastic block (like the stuff you can find in mall kiosks). It has the Vic Viper image inside. Was a paperweight that was produced for Gradius V on the PS2.

For the record, my review copy of Halo 4 is the standard edition. Which means I got the disc, the case and the 14 day live trial. There's not even in instruction manual in there. I'm playing it exactly like the vast majority of buyers will play it. ;)


2) Yes, readers are interested in this sort of thing. For Tolito to dismiss it as a non-issue is an error in judgement, IMHO. The story is not about Wainwright. Her actions are merely an illustration of what Florence was talking about.


3) Most PR and journalists are honest. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I've dealt with some of those exceptions over the years; the trick to doing so successfully is to never compromise the rules you lay down for yourself.

Some of the more standout exceptions:

a) I had a PR director from a major publisher tell me point blank that I should include a recommendation for one of her games in a holiday buyer's guide even tho I had yet to play it. Now this is from two generations back, so it is a paraphrase, but was basically "You don't need to play a game to write about it." I was surprised to hear something that blatant come out of someone's mouth, but simply reiterated "If I haven't played it, I can't recommend it." What's funny is that prior to this I'd been on something of a blacklist for having published a negative review a few months earlier (I was writing a newspaper column at the time) and hadn't been getting any review code for awhile. I figured that conversation would simply confirm my blacklist status. Instead, I got a surprise FedEx the next day with both the new game she wanted me to cover and all of the prior releases the company had never sent. My reaction was to laugh.

b) Some PR folks love to throw parties. While it can be great to see a bunch of games in one place there are parties that are useful showcases (games are organized, people are available to demo, answer questions, etc.) and then there are just parties. One company which tended to do the latter had a lull in releases one year and as such decided to scale back the parties and go with standard press demos (meet in a hotel room, get a game demo, etc.). After one of these meetings I dropped a friendly note to the PR rep saying how I appreciated the meeting and how it was much more useful (from my perspective) than the company's typical events because it was quiet and offered direct access to the information. I encouraged them to keep doing more demos like that. In response I had a nasty letter sent to myself (and the EIC of one of my outlets) telling me how I shouldn't be telling PR how to do their job and how a lot of effort goes into their parties. I have declined to attend any of their events since that email. I suppose you can call it a permanent, personal blacklist.

c) Lest you think it's just PR who have bad apples, I've had editors disappear off the face of the earth when it comes time to get paid. For a one-off piece it's not worth making a stink (and the cost in pursuing it is usually more than the check anyway), but it does happen.

Despite these, I always strive to not let it color my opinions of others. PR or media, I always assume someone is honest and truthful unless they give me a reason otherwise.


4) Metacritic's influence on the industry is stronger than many think. Why do you see so many sites run the same review for multiple versions (PS3, X360, etc.)? Because MC doesn't like it when separate, platform specific reviews are written by the same person. It's fine if the review text and the score are the same, but if the review text and score are different MC thinks that's a bad thing. From a media perspective this presents a conundrum for all but the biggest outlets. After all it's easy enough to have a single staff member play though a single game on multiple platforms and then write up the differences in separate reviews. Having three different people write up three different reviews not only takes up 3x the resources, but it also doesn't ensure a direct comparison. The fact that MC's editors are trying to exert this sort of control over how other outlets produce their coverage is scary.


5) Ubisoft didn't send out a $2,000 flag. Well, not on purpose. The promo flag wouldn't have cost anywhere near that. It makes a nice headline when people pay crazy prices on eBay and the PR team is sure to get a kick out of it because it means publicity for the game, but they probably spent less than $50 on the package.


6) Unboxing videos in and of themselves are not bad. I don't understand why they get traffic, but they do. That said, the reason Kotaku is getting flack in here for the Halo 4 bit is twofold. One, it gives the impression that Kotaku's EIC thinks unboxing a game console (and reiterating a bullet point from a press release) is more important than taking a hard look at the interactions between press and PR in the industry. Given the size and readership, they are in a good position to research such a story and put the proper resources behind it. The second point has to do with how it creates the appearance of a conflict with the stated gift policy. Tolito ran a story about the $300 Capcom Chess set in which he said he didn't want to use it for a contest and wasn't sure what he was going to do with it. For the Xbox 360 unboxing, there was no mention of what is being done with the console. In short, for a site that makes a big deal about its ethics policy of not accepting anything, these pieces give the perception that said policy is not all that strict.

And that brings us full circle to Florence's original thesis. Many of us in the games media are doing things that could be perceived as wrong/biased/improper even if they are totally innocent. That doesn't mean the perception is true, but we should all be taking a hard look at what we're doing and make sure we don't contribute to that perception. If we don't, we shouldn't complain when others assume that perception is reality.


Figured I'd share this: http://checkthis.com/82qo. Wrote it earlier this morning. Grabbing some sleep but will check the thread in the morning.
Thanks guys for sharing.
 

McBacon

SHOOTY McRAD DICK
Stephen - I was at the GMAs, tweeted about the PS3 competition, and was the recipient of Lauren's tweets defending the competition. Happy to answer any fact-checking questions if you do decide to run a story. Feel free to PM me for my email address.
 
There isn't a single person here who doesn't know the reason Kotaku would never investigate this is because it would literally be an investigation into themselves. I wish they'd just come out and admit that.
 
Um, because I just had a drink? I don't know. It's almost as weird as people having amnesia about the good journalism done on Kotaku just so they can selectively bash us. People can be unpredictable and occasionally inconsistent.

Why isn't the thread about our Silicon Knights story this long, NeoGAF? Sweeping that one under the rug?

Imagine a world where good games journalism doesn't generate really long threads on NeoGAF, but threads about games journalism and the alleged lack of good games journalism does. I guess everyone, not just Nick Denton, loves the whiff of scandal.
Wow, 3rd time a Kotaku employee has mentioned the SK story. Congrats, you managed a whole one article! Is that your output of "serious journalism" for the year? You have to be consistently good.

Microsoft PR literally bought that article: if they hadn't sent that to Kotaku the unboxing would have never happened. This piece is an infomercial.

This whole ordeal has revealed that the PR/journalist symbiosis is worse than we thought--the press doesn't even realize they are being manipulated. If Microsoft came to Totilo and said "Make a video advertising Halo 4" he would have been incensed. Instead they give him freebies knowing how he's going to react.
Kotaku made an infomercial. You actually did MS's work for them.

I think what makes it particually callous is the implication that this "supposed media scandal" does not exist or is fabricated in some way, the only fabricated thing in this situation is the general apathy and need to downplay this.
Add into that the two other Kotaku employees exchanging snarky tweets with the PR reps they're buddy-buddy with.

Once again: According to Totilo, everything that's been discovered in this thread = a "non-story", woman dressing up as a maid in China = a story!

You are perhaps the worst example of "games journalism" on the web, which is ironic as you're one of the few that goes out of their way to call themselves journalists instead of just enthusiasts.

"Don't hold my public statements against me. I was just kidding."
"I don't call myself a journalist, except when I called myself a journalist, but that's just a catch-all term..... for journalists"

Schrier's been discredited multiple times. Right now we're just retreading the same arguments with him.
 
So, given the passion about this topic I'm seeing here, I'm reconsidering whether maybe we should revisit the old "problems with games journalism" story. If we do, it seems to me that it should include the seemingly unshakable disdain and suspicion that some gamers, including some folks here, have for and of the gaming press.
I'm having a bit of trouble understanding this. What did this "old" problem consist of, if not the perception issues? That you'd consider including "unshakable disdain and suspicion" of some gamers seems oblivious to the fact that Florence article was a merely catalyst to this discussion, because the knowledge of, and the perception of, press-PR relationship is not something new under the sun but is, indeed, old.
 
There isn't a single person here who doesn't know the reason Kotaku would never investigate this is because it would literally be an investigation into themselves. I wish they'd just come out and admit that.
"After a six-month, in-depth investigation we can exclusively reveal that accepting gifts and trips from publishers appears dodgy. Please disregard everything we have ever written."
 
Interesting read.

edit: Also there is a REASON that the SK thread is not as big as this.

THIS thread requires far more discussion and that is what it is getting. From the original discussion of the unedited article, to the whole legal thing with the amended article to discussion ethics in game journalism including citing specific examples and pointing out some of the hypocrisy.

What else is there to say about the SK piece besides that it was a good piece and saying kudos to Kotaku for it? Can you get a 94 page thread out of that? Probably not because there isn't that much discussion to be had compared to this thread which requires a lot of discussion.
 
I hope at the very least the parties involved who know deep down they're doing the wrong thing (let's face it, most are too stupid to know it) will do the wrong thing less often now (let's face it, they'll keep doing the wrong thing).

Hope.
 
The "First review of Hitman" thread reminded me about how tired I am of all the review bullshit. On good days I can manage the complete lack of critical thinking when I am reading these almost sycophant, fanboy-like rants on "best game ever 9/10!", but what irks me the most right now is the fact that I as a reader has to wade through all the bullshit PR talk and superlatives in order to actually get an understanding of the actual game they're reviewing.

I'm so sick and tired of reading a review and I have to spend so much energy on looking for actual information on the game, because every score, every adjective, and every value statement have been rendered completely meaningless by this enthusiast press. I mean, I cannot possibly take this seriously in any way whatsoever:

Reviews are basically just a wall of platitudes these days.
 
It's getting very hard to follow the thread and single out the great posts (there are so many), but I finally caught up. If you guys think I should add or even remove something, please comment. Thanks a lot to those making these posts and to the members of the press who come here and debate with us (their audience).


Articles/videos
Wings over Sealand articles (second article has summary) 1 2
Rab Florence (the guy who started all this) criticizing games writing since 2008
John Walker's (Rock Paper Shotgun) blog (start with Games Journalists, And The Perception Of Corruption)
TotalBiscuit
Jim Sterling
Penny-Arcade
Gamasutra
Forbes
Worthplaying
GiantBomb
Old Gamasutra article on the influence of PR
Jason Lauritzen editorial and GAF post

Forum posts etc
Shawn Elliot - 1 (aegies is Arthur Gies of polygon.com) 2 3 4 5 6 on the psychology of PR etc
and some more Arthur Gies - 1 2 3 4 5 and some replies 1 2 3
Jeff Green on the way it actually works
ShockingAlberto on his view as a former games writer
Jason Schreier (Kotaku) - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 reply
N'Gai Croal initial reaction on Twitter
Chris Schilling (freelance) likes both people involved and so doesn't want to write about it
Danny O'Dwyer (Gamespot UK) on why his site won't cover this (audience is not interested) - 1 2 3
Examples of various press kits
The 3DS comes to GiantBomb
GillianSeed79 and firehawk12 on how journalist do criticize their peers
pastapadre on being shunned by the industry
An old episode of CGW Radio discussing Gerstmann-gate
Stephen Totilo (Kotaku) doesn't think this is an important story. Instead wants to focus on good games journalism, this prompted a pretty funny picture and a comment about it, then Stephen Totilo enters the thread 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Weekend Confirmed
Syriel on his experiences of PR
Jeff Gerstmann short comment on swag
Snowden's Secret comments on gaming press reactions
A few journalists want to change how they do things
 
Just want to say that I think this is one of the best threads I've read on here. A lot of the posts here have been very insightful, particularly compared to some of the dismissive and mocking commentary from the supposed journalists being scrutinized. It all makes for a pretty damning picture of the gaming press, exactly an issue the initial story from Rab was aiming to shed some light on.

Good stuff.
 
This right here is a money quote, and I wish you'd take it to heart, Stephen, for when the next free console is sent to you.
Thanks for emphasizing that quote. Like I said in my editorial, folks are clearly engaging in cognitive dissonance. They know what they're doing violates standard journalism ethics but hide behind the fact with sayings like "that's how the business works."

A great thing to come out of this collection of commentary (articles, editorials, this thread, etc.) is that a lot of fans are seeing that many so-called "journalists" are refusing to comment or write about the issue and simply claiming it's not a big enough deal to warrant their attention. That's why I pushed back at N'Gai on Twitter.

Very, very few of us are "clean" in the sense that we've never done anything that didn't violate tenets of something like the SPJ Ethics Code. At this point, journalists (former and current) can either say, "Yes, this is how things work. I freely admit to violating journalistic ethics and here's my chance to be honest," or they can go, "Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now. All you forum folks are jealous, conspiracy theorists (insert more red herrings)."
 
Excellent article. If you can't see some of the issues being pointed out here with regards to ethics you clearly are a lost cause.

I can't help but hear in my head after that headline:

1st rule of video games journalism is you do not talk about VIDEO GAMES JOURNALISM.

2nd rule of video games journalism You DO NOT talk about VIDEO GAMES JOURNALISM.
Yep. I was scratching my head for a title and Fight Club came into my head and I went, "Wow. It really is like that. All the folks trying to cover for one another could be in a basement right now going, 'First rule of video games journalism is you don't talk about video game journalism.'"
 
in among people dismissing this story and the broader ideas around it i've seen a few people talk about trying to learn from it which is nice

eurogamer's simon parkin tweeted this "Week's lesson: perception is almost as important as truth. Time to make some changes."

and christian donlan this - "Long way to go, but the message of Rob's piece -before and after edits- has really made me want to change way I do things."
Very commendable. I hope Eurogamer do learn from this, as they are a decent site. It's important to remember that most sites wouldn't have touched Rab's piece (wink wink) in the first place.
 
in among people dismissing this story and the broader ideas around it i've seen a few people talk about trying to learn from it which is nice

eurogamer's simon parkin tweeted this "Week's lesson: perception is almost as important as truth. Time to make some changes."

and christian donlan this - "Long way to go, but the message of Rob's piece -before and after edits- has really made me want to change way I do things."
Good to highlight the good responses, too. Thanks for this.
 
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