You know that I did not WANT to do another #GamerGate blog post so soon. I have been meaning to write a proper post for a while. I have been following the entire event as it has unfolding since it’s conception well over a month ago, and while I have mentioned the effects and fallout of #gamersgate twice already (Be MOP #419 and #431). The terrible thing is it seems that every time I sit down to write a post covering the entire event or a recap of what just happened, a new twist is added or revealed every other day.
But out of everything that has happened, all the accusations and name calling and conspiracy talks I want to focus on three major incidents and wrong doings that Game Journalism have committed, that has been revealed and brought to light from this past month.
The big three are:
- The Original Sin of having an established journalist having an affair with a game developer, and while writing and financially supporting the work by the developer. (Source)
- Another journalist writing about the works of friends, significant others, and roommates. (Source)
- and most recently and most inflammatory the reveal of the secret mailing list of journalists talking about the recent events and leads that lead into talking about what these journalists write about and how to write it. (Source and follow up Source)
These are all wonderful examples and outcomes from the #GamersGate movement because all those accusations have been confirmed, by a Kotaku post from Stephen Totilo about his employees and by admission of guilt by tweets and comments of the journalists in the secret mailing list. The thing is what has been done by the sites and people involved was incredibly unethical.
“– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.” -The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics
Despite the damning evidence here I firmly believe that all of these events might have been done with the best intentions .
Hanging out a bit too closely with leads and contacts because they were at or hosted some really cool expos and parties, as we have seen with staff of Destructoid having their pictures taken with prominent PR members AAA gaming industry.
Writing about your friend/patreon user’s pet project or creation on the site that you write for and that gets thousands of hits per day as a sign of good will.
Or as we seen from the recently leaked emails from the secret Gaming Journal Pros threads advocating the blocking any coverage of the Zoe Quinn event to help prevent any more harassment coming her way or thinking it would be a good idea to get all the journalists to pitch together to buy Zoe a “feel better” gift for her.
But what they, the journalists, did was still wrong, beyond wrong they broke some founding rules of journalism. Because of what they have done to try to protect someone from trolls, help significant others/patreon and just wanting a place to talk to fellow journalists they were in fact changing or ignoring the recent objective stories, promoting people for their or their own financial gain, and creating a place allowed the passive (or if you read some of the emails aggressively) attempts to sway the direction and message or video game journalism.
That is the problem with ethics, it’s that what you want to do might not line up with what you want to do.
I get it, having and following work ethics is a double edge sword, it is great to have as a defense when you have to do something that is unpopular but it is terrible burden to have when it prevents you (or suppose to stop you) from doing the fun stuff.
I have been there, there have been times in my line of profession when I did not know what to do and I had to refer to my code of ethics for guidance and for the answer for better or worst.
With all the glam and fashion of being some of the most viewed journalists in your field and when you constantly get first looks at the newest games, free giveaways, and invitations to all the biggest gaming events I could find it quite easy at time to do the thing you want to do for a story rather than things you have to do.
But work ethics are there so we have an established (and to keep up) a professional image and to keep it a constant professional image for all the other workers, clients, and people you work for.
Those rules are there so that people in and out of the workforce can trust you to do your job. Moving forward how can anyone ever trust these people to write an unbiased article about any of these game developers if they refuse to remain a proper distance away from a source to remain professional.
Videogame journalism, as we have seen, is still a new form of journalism but simply because it’s new does not exclude it from any form of ethics, or cherry picking the essentials. We are in an age where even YouTubers, not professional journalists with web shows but regular people with personalities are expected to have ethics and use disclosures lest you forget the events surrounding XB1M13.
At the end of the day all of these game journalists fall under the same category of some of the greatest Pulitzer Prize winners and people who risk their life for a source or a major story. After reading all the emails from the recently leaked email logs from GameJournos Pro I believe that these journalists did not mean to do harm when they were discussion the possibility to not cover the story, what they have done in their private talks and actions they took did inflict harm to the name of Journalism.
Now these journalists involved needs to be reprimanded for it, with a combination of mass resignations for the worst offenders, massive reconstruction of these website’s code of ethics and how to approach sources and stories, or at the very least complete transparency on what wrongs and these other sites and writers have done in the past and present with regards to GamerGate.
Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays