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Sorry, We Can't Be Real Gaming Journalists, Publishers Won't Let Us

This was originally going up on GB but it was declined.


There's always this struggle... this insatiable struggle between the powers that be and the people at the bottom. In between those two sides is supposed to be a force to mediate how both sides see and react to each other, we sometimes call them news outlets, bloggers or information aggregators. The thing is, while people want the news and the companies on top want people to have the news, there's a silver lining to it all.

That above paragraph might seem vague and ambiguous but it's kind of a macrocosmic depiction of the way news journalism works today: You want to be informed, we want to inform and sometimes there are people who would rather you stay in the dark until they feel you're ready to be informed.

Now I've never referred to myself as a journalist, and I don't really consider what I do journalism, but the thing that makes this job hard (other than writer's block) is that we have to tip-toe around some forms of news information, lest we get hit with the legal banhammer.

Just recently we posted up an article about information that relates to a certain game coming to certain platforms. Now throughout the week we've been getting hit with legal notices from a certain company for certain coverage – that last news bit that was linked to in the original article received one of the more threatening forms of legal action.

Now Fair Use aside, the main issue of this article isn't about the procedure of news acquisition or the actual news items themselves, it's about the fact that here we have actual news that is new that is being blockaded. Really think about that for a second... if you take time to track down a source of information, provide analysis of it and depict that information to the world, you're being threatened for it because a company doesn't want you depicting that kind of information to the world.

In plain old English: if we can't report on the facts then what are we good for?

Gamers are constantly asking for gaming journalists to be gaming journalists, to seek out the obscure and the unknown and to provide the facts to enlighten the community. What we have right now are a lot of advertorialists, regurgitating press releases and providing cutting-edge analysis of publisher-approved media assets, heck we're subjugated to that same sort of corporate cesspool circle-jerking at Gaming Blend. I even joke about this often when we toss up trailers or screenshots.

Things have become so sterilized and commercial-driven that core gamers constantly refer to the above mentioned advertorialists as followers of the Dorito Pope (if you're unfamiliar with the meme, just Google it.)

The funny thing about it is that once you try to do any real uncovering, any real investigating, any real reporting, you're blockaded into a corner with legal threats and copyright fines, heck just look at what happened to Rob Florence... or dare I say, Jeff Gertsmann. There's always the case of just not reporting on the news or leaving out key pieces of information, though I would argue that isn't this the very thing that caused such a huge outcry in the gaming community when Hip Hop Gamer did just that or when a bunch of major gaming sites ran with a rumor without doing nary a fact check (i.e., Google up Xbox 720 fake news story)?

Sadly, this means that the only real news “gaming journalists” are allowed to follow through with are news items approved by publishers, news that gets the legal “go ahead” and news that abides by the laws of our seemingly corporate-governed society. Sad as it sounds... it's true.

This means that the next time someone actually does some real digging and comes up with information that challenges the status quo, it may not stay alive for long so long as the corporate powers that be feel that the information infringes on the way they want you to receive your information.

So sadly, we can't be real gaming journalists even if we wanted to because publishers won't let us.

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SilentNegotiator1708d ago

Publishers pay for the advertisement, release big news to their buddies, and blacklist anyone that crosses them.

Until the entire system changes, we will continue to get sensationalized negative news from the little guys, pro-publisher news/reviewers from the big guys, and very little in-between.

WilliamUsher1707d ago

It's so sad that this is so true.

There was one time where before, the big guys used to break news regularly by actually doing some legwork. Before Kotaku became what it is, they were known for that sort of thing.

Things have drastically changed, though. Once you reach the upper echelons it's about how well you play ball with the people who provide the ad revenue.

DragonKnight1707d ago

The system will never change because the only ones that want it to are the smaller people. The smaller people don't want to resort to sensationalized negative news, they want to put out real stuff, but they are drilled on what is necessary for them to have their work on the site and it's basically "do whatever will get the clicks."

People complain about those Top 10 lists, especially when it involves "Sexiest Girls in Gaming," but those exist because they potential equal to 10 hits per individual that reads through the whole list. More hits, more ad money, and the writers are told to do so as often as possible. The little guy can't get news unless they foster a relationship with indies or get REALLY lucky at an event like PAX or something.

The big guys get perks all the time. Many will say they toss them out in the garbage, or keep them and don't let it affect what they do, but that's bull. I've seen quite a few articles where bigger journalists detailed the bribes they get from publishers and the journos are like "yeah I just throw that out or give it to someone's kids" and I'm like "yeah, sure you do."

We can all see that the system is broken and the bigger journos will never admit it because it serves their purposes and the publishers' as well.

WilliamUsher1707d ago

"People complain about those Top 10 lists, especially when it involves "Sexiest Girls in Gaming," but those exist because they potential equal to 10 hits per individual that reads through the whole list."

There was a writer at Complex who did the Top 50 Sexiest Women in Tech (or something to that effect) who got drilled for the piece. He was told by his editors to do the article because, as you mentioned, it was a guaranteed hit for ad clicks.

It's so sad that there are people who see how broken the system is but the only ones who don't want it fixed are the ones in control. No surprise there.

NYC_Gamer1707d ago

There can't be huge legit mainstream gaming journalist long as they accept publishers gifts/exclusive bribes

Garrison1707d ago (Edited 1707d ago )

It's kinda funny in a way that when it comes to ad revenue, gaming sites and magazines mostly have just the ability to get ads from gaming companies. That's it. No more no less.

Yet when you open most magazines and different websites out there you will find ads for a variety of things that might not be completely related to the topic but targets the audience that reads the medium. And guess what? It works.

Back in some years ago I remember seeing ads for toyota cars in a gaming magazine and guess what, I bought a toyota. The same one in the magazine too, friends of mine had toyota's and this one had some perks that I wanted at the time. The ad just made the final push to convince me.

I think that one of the issues of all these sites and mags is that they can't really market themselves to other retailers and markets well enough to rid themselves of gaming companies grip.

Pick up an issue of wired. I love that mag because I love their interesting articles about technology. There you will find ads for watches, clothes, cars, tech companies, tv programs, airlines, etc...

There are so many things that relates to gaming and gamers lifestyle that is both unique and common. We watch tv too, drive cars too, get dressed as well lol.

Gaming sites and magazines think too small. That's the real problem. Hell you could get ads from comic book companies, movies, Card Games, Anime and TV companies and STILL keep it geek.

Gaming Journalists get bullied around by the boss because the revenue/marketing teams out there can't get the money rolling in like they should.