I think it’s an apt time to have this discussion about journalism, and how it pertains to the gaming industry. I am not considering myself an expert on the subject, but I do feel like I have enough knowledge about the subject to talk about it.
If you didn’t follow the Borderlands 2/Eurogamer/Randy Pitchford debacle, then this you may want to read up on what happened there, because it was that event that acted as the catalyst for this.
First of all, if someone reliable enough were to tell me Borderlands 2 is in development, I would laugh and tell them I am not surprised. Now, if they were to also reveal that the game is ontrack for a March 2012 release, they would have gained some more of my attention, but still not enough of it that I would jump all over running a story.
Okay let’s step back a bit. I would run the story if I were employed at a smaller blog that needs exclusives like this to gain the audience they thrive on, but if I were working for somewhere like Giant Bomb, or even Gamespot, the story wouldn’t have went up. Why? Because it’s an announcement of a video game. And a modern sequel at that. If it were Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter, or something along those lines, I would actually care. But I don’t, and you shouldn’t either.
Most of us knew that Borderlands 2 was a thing, we just needed the press release or the Game Informer cover to officially confirm it. Would it really be worth writing up a story a day earlier, if you were a bigger site with a large enough reader base? No, I don’t think so.
So, now we get to the Twitter uproar with Randy Pitchford throwing the “shoddy journalism” word around. I have nothing against Pitchford, but he has no business calling out “shoddy journalism” as the fault for this leak. Journalism is about researching a topic, getting the interviews, writing a all encompassing story and maybe getting that tiny little scoop. If Eurogamer got the scoop, they got the scoop. And judging from what I’ve seen and heard, they didn’t sit outside Gearbox with binoculars and scope out concept art, no, someone just told them before the NDA was up for the Game Informer cover reveal. That’s not shoddy. Eurogamer is not less of a site because of what they did, and the people calling them out must have their own definition for journalism.
What we do–and I’m only inclined to say that because I write news for a site now–is mostly not journalism in its most classic sense. The people that do the real reporting, are people like Patrick Klepek, but he’s also someone that Shacknews’ Garnett Lee calls an “anomaly”. Lee is correct. He’s an “anomaly” because most of us write our news off of press releases, and PR contacts. You’ll notice Klepek’s duties on Giant Bomb don’t end at “yo, write a more appealing version of this press release”.
It’s easy to call what most of us do journalism, but there are exceptions like Klepek. I’m not saying I have another word for it, but it’s still not “shoddy” in any shape or form.
I just needed to get that out there.
Let’s move on.