I watched an interesting video on youtube that linked to a tweet made by Polygon's Brian Crecente, which you can read here.
So, like the video that showed me this tweet, I decided to take my own stab at this topic and rate how much games journalism follows this code, if at all.
The code can be found here.
Seek Truth and Report It
-Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Well right away we know that this is false. The current state of gaming journalism is to seek sensationalism and show extreme bias, hence why rumour stories and "insider" stories vastly outnumber legitimate, truthful news. Sensationalist headlines are the rule of thumb, as is the latest social justice craze and we all know that any social justice story is never filled with facts, instead it's filled with emotion.
Journalists should: —Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
Again false. Games journalists prefer to post from anonymous sources so that they don't have to worry about being accurate. Insiders are also preferred so the onus can be passed on to them if the information is wrong.
-Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
When has there ever been follow up stories from gaming journalism at all? The incidents are few and far between, so the opportunity for subjects to respond to any allegations of wrongdoing are usually left up to the subject, and then only if they feel a need to respond which they normal don't.
—Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
This only occurs when there is no way to hide the sources, such as public event interviews. Gaming journalists will hide any sources they have all the time, and the sad part is that they have no reason to except the possible threat of being blacklisted, which isn't really a threat at all. In the real world of journalism, protecting a source can be necessary to protect that person's life, in gaming journalism no one's life is at stake.
—Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
Never happens. Sites like Kotaku or Polygon would rather just report the information as is than question it. It's more important that they be the first to get the story out rather than care about the authenticity or motivation behind it.
-Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
Is this a joke? I'm seriously laughing at this because gaming journalism is NOTORIOUS for its use of tabloid style reporting. Sensationalism and hyperbole are kind of like the law in gaming journalism. Hell, just look at what happened to Nintendo with Tomodachi Life. How many of the sites actually looked into the situation before calling Nintendo homophobic?
—Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
Remember how many game trailers and in-game footage were represented as being, say, Xbox 360 footage of a game when in fact they were PS3 footage but doctored to look like they were 360 footage? Sounds like distortion to me, how about you?
-Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
This doesn't really apply except in cases where games are shown behind closed doors and we have to take the word of the press about what happened. We have no way of proving or disproving it, and it's already been established that the gaming press have no ethics so far.
-Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.
Insiders. 'nuff said.
Although he's not really a gaming journalist, HipHopGamer was guilty of this and he definitely isn't the only one. The problem is that gaming journalism is very closed to new journalists. The established sites always get first crack and all the perks so sometimes plagiarism happens.
-Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
This is a tricky one. I don't think that this is saying "report social justice issues even if people don't want to hear about it." I think it's saying be sure to tell every side of the story, which also doesn't happen in gaming journalism.
-Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
Tomodachi Life and Anita Sarkeesian. 'nuff said once again.
-Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
Well, Polygon recently had Jonathan McIntosh post a story about white male privilege while gaming so...
-Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
How far do you think I'd go if I tried to post an "All girls should look like Ivy from Soul Calibur" story on IGN?
-Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
Gaming journalism actually trumpets the loudest voices only. The voiceless are hardly ever heard, and when they want to be heard they are either ignored or attacked. Case in point, indie games coverage is severely lacking, and male gamers who don't like being called monsters are attacked for voicing such displeasure.
-Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Given how many sites, especially IGN, overhype things; I think it's safe to say that they are incapable of distinguishing the two.
-Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
Most gaming journalism is a hybrid that blurs the line between the two. It's why so many consider the big journalism sites to be bought and paid for by advertisers or game publishers.
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
Did anyone see the twitter battle between IGN's Editor-In-Chief and Angry Joe? So much respect in that one.
Journalists should: —Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
Is that what they did to the developer of Dragon's Crown?
-Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
This should be hammered into the foreheads of SO MANY gaming journalists that it's not even funny. They should be forced to see this in the mirror every single day because this doesn't happen at all. The smug indignation that comes from some games journalists is sickening sometimes.
-Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
I feel like I could have just consistently written "HA" after a lot of these and save some time.
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
This entire section is a complete write off. I'm not even going to elaborate because we all know where this one would head.
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
And this one is probably the biggest write off of the whole piece. Absolutely no gaming journalist ever takes accountability for the B.S. they report. They hardly interact with anyone who calls them out, and when they do, they do so with more smugness and this idea that they are right and you are wrong.
Gaming journalism is a complete joke and fails all applicable aspects of this code of ethics. That Brian Crecente actually believes what his tweet says is merely proof that he is divorced from reality, but then you'd have to be to write for Polygon and think anyone takes you seriously.