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On the subject of Journalism...

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I want you to read that. I want you to read every single word of it, and when you're done, I want you to come back to this page ready to listen.

I want to preface this by saying that not only is this one of those editorials that isn't going to win me any friends, I may very well run the risk of losing some of the friends I have. But I feel compelled to contribute my commentary.

The state of gaming journalism, and the people that are representative of it, could be considered bankrupt right now. I don't say this lightly, or without conviction mind you. Really it should become obvious to anyone that isn't a mental space cadet, that most coverage of games is very archaic in nature, and has immense issues of transparency. And to speak on the quality of most gaming coverage is something of an embarrassment unto itself. I feel like a buffoon whenever I seriously consider G4TV a legitimate source of anything other than fodder for blogs, and the incessant comments sections that come with them. But sadly, and despite argument on the internet stating otherwise, G4TV is the most watched source of news for games, and sadly still, despite what people on the internet think, TV is the most significant media sharing medium in existence. The sooner you can acknowledge that, and move on with the rest of this the better, because it raises an immediate concern in and of itself. G4 is a mess, it's mostly reruns of COPS, and Ninja Warrior. And the rare bit of coverage that is featured on the channels, is immediately trumped by the immediacy, and the dedicated insanity of up-to-the minute happenings within the industry by blogs like Kotaku, and Destructoid. This rift should make it abundantly clear that games insofar as the maintstream media is concerned are still a joke and considered complex playthings at best, with only the major outlets responsible for games coverage covered in so much blood, that they should be arrested on the spot for murdering the very industry they purport to love.

On the subject of bribery. I've seen it, dealt with it, am privy to it, but never guilty of it. It exists within this industry on such a monumental level that to try to bring any sensible and meaning discussion on the subject is a cavalcade unto itself. I also find it funny that Ars Technica takes the time to single out Jim Sterling, a man who has google news alerts set to his own name. Jim Sterling is a typical archetype of all things wrong with gaming coverage as it exists in it's current form. He is a man who can be bought, bullied, and sold, and does so through a veil of hot air, and blasphemously transparent conviction.

"I am fully aware that by posting this, I am essentially opening up any positive review ofDarksiders(released this week) to accusations of pay-offs and bias. However, I don't really care, because I just received a GIANT MASSIVE DARKSIDERS SWORD!" - Jim Sterling

Investigate that bit of text, does it look like it was written by someone who takes their responsibility in reporting seriously? Or does it rather look like a unrestrained outburst from a hyperactive 15 year old? If you know anything about me, then you know it's no secret that Jim and I have had some silly fights, and called each other some marvelous names, but inside of my own profession I don't think I've ever displayed a true lack of credibility, and then outright defended it in the same sentence. I know Jim will more than likely read this, and if and when he does I want him to consider the ultimate impact of making the rest of us look similarly stupid by proxy. While it may be unfair to say that he is the ultimate detritus responsible for the dwindling credibility of journalistic integrity as it pertains to games, it is impossible to ignore the negative contribution that inevitably comes with those momentary lapses of judgment regardless of who's responsible. And beyond that, I've never been terribly fond of his opinions, or conclusions as it pertains to games, as I have always felt like Jim Sterling and the rest of the crew at Destructoid sold their last bit of integrity away when the amazingly talented Anthony Burch (wisely) left for greener pastures.

I brought up the issue of complacency before when I talked briefly about the lack of sexual content in games, and I bring it up again. Why do we settle for this? When did a place like Kotaku, whose only meaningful contribution to journalism has been rehashing press releases, and posting pictures of scantily clad cosplayers get to hold the mantle of being known as a go to, for reliable, objective reporting? Go to right now, go through the last week of posts. If you can go through a single week of that completely over saturated garbage without coming across something that can be labeled patently useless, then I commend you, but the fact remains that the site is absolutely inundated with information that could be considered as nothing more than fluff. I want to take the easy road out, and simply say that these people don't take their jobs seriously, and think that the rest of the industry is similarly a joke, but I fear that the reality is much more multifaceted and complex than that. I fear that in an effort to constantly compete with each other for scoops, and the slightest tidbits of information these sites have managed to ultimately cheapen the impact of any news whatsoever, and turn themselves into persistently updated advertising billboards subject to the whims of publishers. I understand the desire to get stories out, and to generate “scoops” but the reality of the current situation is a parody of that principle at best. (At the gaming press) You have managed to make any fart within a publishers office “news” and let crazy important things like the massive publisher layoffs of the past year fly by without even the second notion of dedicated coverage. And the less I say about your seeming unanimous decision to cover women in gaming as nothing more than mere objects the better. It seems that the only conclusion that my peers want to leave me with, is that they are still incapable of behaving in a manner befitting of an adult with any semblance of responsibility to their audiences, and worse than that, they have the moral accountability of a US Senator.

For anyone that takes issue with this, note that is on a number of those very same press lists, and we are privy to a wide range of news, and happenings within our dark universe, but we make the daily editorial decision to not fall victim to those trappings. In essence, we don't just post crap for the sake of fluffing up content. While this may not be the most beneficial decision from the perspective of playing into the perception of what a gaming journalist should be, I feel like it's equally important for anyone who works for GameGavel in any capacity for any period of time to not only adopt that mindset, but to make it a mantra for as long as they call this site home. It's a collective statement to all those that continue with a business as usual mentality that their days are numbered, and that a change of the guard has been initiated. People are sick of being inundated with information all the goddamn time, especially if it's nothing more than fodder for a hype machine, I mean it's almost as if the editors of some of these blogs are incapable of thinking beyond an instant gratification standpoint, and refuse to look at what they can contribute to the profession itself.

The one rule any reporter worth his salt remembers is this: “If your mother says 'I love you', ask for her sources.” It seems that has become a suggestion at best. The unfortunate thing for those who refuse to adjust their opinions, and their credibility based on the previous statement, is that they are selling out their own industry by virtue of simply refusing to do their job adequately. Worse than that, they are detracting so much credibility away from what they do, and why they do it, that pretty soon the public trust of those people is going to fly out the window, and their opinions will become next to useless. So I can safely say that because of our own refusal to fall in line with everyone else, and copy every other popular game based blog's format, that when the smoke clears, and the rest of you in the gaming press at large are out of jobs, don't be surprised if one day is putting up offers to buy G4. Because making you all obsolete, is business as usual for us.

Steve Sawyer
Editor in Chief

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Updated 13-02-11 at 07:03 by SteveSawyer

Industry , Editorial


  1. GameGavel's Avatar
    I felt this was a great article by our EIC Steve and cross-posted it on a few other forums. This topic seems to have struck a nerve among gamers and have posted links here for you all to see others take on this subject.




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