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.