A Blogger’s Journalism

Kind of like a medical condition.  Are bloggers also journalists?  One of my favorite blogs, Psychochild’s, says we aren’t because “we don’t have impetus to do the real work needed.”  Most of the article attacks the misinformation from Randy Nelson’s online post at Joystiq, and Brian “Psychochild” Green is harsh in the comparison of Nelson’s post to real journalism.  Ironically, it seems that Randy Nelson’s title at Joystiq is “Blogger.”

I full understand Psychochild’s point that unchecked facts and off the cuff hyperbole can be damaging to a game, and it sucks that the very emotionally-written post by Nelson hit Joystiq’s front page for a time.  But, if Green wants vanilla, bland, just-the-facts-ma’am journalism, please show me where for MMOs (or even video games) I can get this.

A podcast you should all be supporting and listening to has as its first episode interviews on the death of EGM.  EGM was an in-print monthly magazine embedded in the video game industry.  It was filled with ads, reviews, cheats, tricks, and I guess journalism.  It is as close a medium as I can think of for video games that nears Green’s want for “journalism.”  Yet, I listened to the profanity-filled interviews, and I came to the conclusion that these “journalists” were not much different from me.  They played video games, goofed off, wrote things, and it made it to print. The basic difference is video gaming and blogging are hobbies that I am not paid to enjoy or forced to play things I don’t enjoy. So, is the “impetus” I am lacking because there is no fiscal reward or managerial punishment attached?

Perhaps it is the blogger’s connection to the companies.  I get some interviews here and there, but they usually take awhile to get.  Some have fallen through after months of me sending reminder emails.  I know that it is very unlikely I would get an email response to journalistic questions within a week from the bigger game companies.  I even tried asking across-the-board game companies (which even Sanya Weathers was excited about) how we simple bloggers could strengthen ties to the game companies, and lackluster response by my contacts, missed deadlines, and the PAX flu took that dog down.

I think at the end of the day, we, developers, and for sure marketing departments, have a hard time pinning us down.  The good bloggers, like those found to the right of this simple post, who write day in and day out their brutally honest words are journalists.  We take facts, apply emotions, and type it out for an audience.  I cannot believe that journalism could get any more inhuman when I see the Republican’s Fox News-lovechild or Obama’s in-the-pocket MSNBC. But, we are as a whole uncontrollable. At Kill Ten Rats, for instance, we will say what we want, and we won’t be bribed to say things we don’t.

I may be a statistical flier, but the media site that has gotten me to buy more games than any other form is Penny Arcade.  Their posts are filled with linguistical wordplay and chthonic hyperbole and emotional responses to the games they play.  But, they are honest.  They lambaste so-called journalists who demand review copies in lieu of buying the game themselves.*  They only take advertising money from games they feel are worth advertising.  And, whether I agree or disagree, they call it like they see it.  I can only aspire to achieve their degree of success, and I am not talking readership numbers or income.  Their moral guideposts on writing about video games are lighthouses for any “journalist.”

What I can promise you, dear reader, is honesty.  Kickbacks, manager edits, and advertising influence simply don’t exist here.  If I am writing about a game, it means something.  I wish that I could play all your favorite games to the degree I feel comfortable commenting and punditing about, but I can’t.  None of us can, and therein lies the rub.  We can’t be the journalists that I believe Green wants us to be because we don’t have the time to write about things that don’t entertain and interest us.

Before I close, I have to remark again on my own impetus.  I can’t speak for other bloggers (as true as it may be for most), but for the few games I love and cherish, I have much more “impetus” to bring kernels of information than many a journalist.  I can’t even count the amount of times I have found some news and it was snatched up like it was its own by Ten Ton Hammer or MMORPG.com.  I have only my own theories on their journalistic theft but the timing and wording are good indicators.  Heavy kudos to Massively, my favorite news site, that 9 times out of 10 at least hat tips the blogger that got them the information.  Regardless, the amount of research – in-game and out – that I do for blogging, I would guess, far outweighs a journalist being forced to write about something she doesn’t love.

At the end of the day, I may not be a “journalist,” which is completely fine by me.  I can still promise that I value the time it takes for you to read a post here.  I value your thoughts, and I read every single comment on this blog for every post.  I value any trust you have in Kill Ten Rats, and I do my best within my limited means to find all the facts.  Thank you, dear reader, for letting me speak.

I had roses, and apologized to no one

*I tried my best to find this post on Penny Arcade where they call out a major gaming news site, but searching for that post when I don’t remember the game or the news site proved difficult.

39 thoughts on “A Blogger’s Journalism”

  1. Great post Rav. That’s a topic that’s been on my mind quite a bit recently.

    Nice to read Sanya’s post on fansite/developer relationships again too, even if it only highlights how irritatingly bad some developers are at that.

  2. Great post Ravious. I also don’t understand the fear of some sites to give credit where credit is due. Perhaps it’s the fear of the reliability of the information if it’s first found by a smaller site. Or just that the manager breathing down their neck will be appalled that it wasn’t posted by themselves first.

  3. Why is it that any time the topic of journalism comes up, most gamers immediately assume the idea of “vanilla, bland, just-the-facts-ma’am journalism”.

    This isn’t some black-and-white concept here, wherein a writer can either be entertaining OR factually accurate, but never both. Suddenly EGM isn’t “all that different” from bloggers because of the “profanity laced interviews”? Somehow the concept of “journalism” implies a lack of emotions or bias?

    Rolling Stone magazine has a long and storied history where the concepts of entertainment, linquistic wordplay, emotion, profanity, and (HOLY HELL IN A HANDBASKET) even fact-checked accuracy are all mixed together in a “real” journalistic soup.

    Real journalism isn’t about removing emotions, bias, or even entertainment from the writing. It’s about an integrity ABOUT the writing – to make sure that what’s put down on paper (virtual or real) is checked for accuracy through independant sources. “Real” journalists separate out their reviews (food critics, movie critics, book reviews) and their editorials in such a way as to make certain there’s no confusion about what is fact and what is opinion.

    Most bloggers – virtually all bloggers do not. The precious few who do should be recognized and encouraged for their extra effort. THAT was Brian’s point – not that bloggers are lesser writers or human beings just because they aren’t true journalists, but that those who aspire to make certain the facts are true and accurate should be held up as examples for all of us to look up to.

    Integrity, not emotion, is the difference.

    1. This. Exactly this.

      I’m not asking for dry reporting, no more than I’m going to start writing dry lectures about game design on my own blog. I enjoy good writing. There’s a reason why this site is in my RSS reader, and it’s not because it’s a bunch of dry facts.

      The issue, as Kendricke says, is integrity. If you write something that is patently false, I would hope to see some sort of clarification. Or if you wanted to post a rumor I hope you’d either try to confirm it or label it as such.

      Ultimately, it can be boiled down to this, “Do you publish false information and try to pass it off as truth?” The Joystiq article had several inaccuracies that have not been corrected. Joystiq trying to hide behind, “It’s just a blog,” is disingenuous, and as I point out we need better (which DOES NOT mean dry) journalism to help the industry improve.

      P.S., I used to subscribe to the print version of EGM and loved it. Again, I’m not interested in dry journalism.

    2. Well said!

      I see myself (as a ‘blogger’) being very different from a journalist. The difference being that I’ve never been trained nor had experience in how to write with integrity. I write from the heart and with passion and, heck, sometimes (a lot of times ;) ) I’m totally wrong. To me that’s part of the learning curve because I can have someone come on my site and correct my facts or counter my opinion and I will fix it and accept it.

      I guess once you reach a certain size though – like Joystiq – you are seen as a journalistic site and people expect your facts to be verified and true, even if the person writing it is still just a blogger without the necessary training or experience.

    3. Thanks Kendricke, that’s exactly what I was thinking while reading this post and similar posts in the blogosphere on the subject.

      I enjoy both journalism and blogs, but there is a stark difference between the two, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s annoying is when blogging starts to parade as journalism and when it comes to writing about gaming whether you’re being paid for it or not the lines are so very blurred it’s so hard to make the difference, and I don’t think it should be. If you have the job to write reviews there should be training involved, otherwise it’s your opinion and that writer is no different then the rest of us who are passionate about gaming but not trained to write about them.

      There is a place for opinion pieces, for emotion pieces, but there should really be a place for objectivity as well. Which used to be the staple of journalism, no?

    4. I know nothing about gaming journalism, but I know that most of the mainstream media do NOT have any integrity, do NOT check their facts, and blatantly don’t give a crap when they get it wrong. If you’ve seen the size of the corrections spot in most newspapers, you know that it’s tiny. Tiny font, tiny space, hidden in the middle of the newspaper. They only correct about 1/10 mistakes (if that). They don’t care when they report “study finds drunk women more likely to be raped” when in fact the study found that drunk men were more likely to rape.

      The difference with bloggers is that you know what you’re getting, and if they get it wrong usually someone will call them on it in the comments (and usually it’ll get corrected, or at least argued about). You can tell which blogs summarily delete dissenting opinions, and which blogs just delete the worst of the raging trolls.

      I’m not saying you are wrong for wanting integrity, I just don’t think you’ll find it where you think you will (journalists). And I don’t blame the journalists when they’re just getting paid to pump out stories without fact-checking, they’re just doing their job.

  4. Randy Nelson’s story doesn’t seem “emotional” to me. It’s sensationalist which is quite different. It’s looking at a story that’s gone round fifty sites and saying to yourself how can I twist this so that MY story is the one everyone reads.

    As Kendricke says that then brings up the issue of integrity.

    Can you imagine the chaos if major news organisations started just making up random stuff to grab attention? Newsflash: Michael Jackson’s corpse dug up by PETA protestors. Newsflash: Chinese troops land in Japan. Bet we’d all click those links if we saw them on a reputable site.

    We rely on our sources of information, and even our sources of opinion to have a relation to reality.

    I can say Lotro is a poor game for a reason I perceive as justifiable. But if I post about Lotro massacring the Tolkien lore just to draw attention to my blog when I don’t believe it’s true that sucks. It damages all blogs and web news sites when people start doing that.

    And several people in the blogosphere clearly do this. Gevlon. Syncaine.

    In the end it’s become a matter for caveat emptor. It’s quite fun looking at Gevlon or Syncaine for the drama lama aspects but it’s pointless looking at them for honest opinions since they say whatever will get them the most hits.

    1. Please point me to a post I’ve made where I make up facts to generate hits. Please link my very own “China invades Japan” post.

      I might have a different opinion on MMO games and the people playing them than you do, but I don’t just make shit up for giggles.

      1. http://syncaine.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/300k-subscriptions-to-fail-50k-to-profit/

        Both 300K and 50K are subscriber numbers you made up on the spot.


        I think you posted this to spark discussion not because yuo genuinely believe that most theme park MMO players are constantly telling themselves how cool sandbox games are. Most WoW players don’t even know what a sandbox is, let alone wish they were in one and that’s kinda obvious since they’re not all cancelling and subbing to Darkfall.


        I don’t think you honestly believe that everything is WoW is EZmode facerolling. I think you’re trolling the community when you post stuff like this. You know full well that there are hard modes <1% of raid guilds have managed pretty much all the time.

        You have a very entertaining blog but it's not one that deserves to be taken seriously when you talk about WoW. Or Lum. You will put stuff up for effect rather than because you honestly believe it, you will make up statistics on the spot (like your 60% of Warhammer fans were WoW tourists – did you ask each one when they bought the game whether they intended to go right back to WoW after a month?)

        You do come across as sincere when you talk about Darkfall.

        1. The 300k 50k are examples of nameless games. Of course I made up numbers for nameless games to use in an example. What did you expect, the official sub numbers of two games that don’t exist?

          Considering I personally have sandbox envy of many things in EVE, no, I did not just ‘make that up’ to troll. And given that some commentators confirmed that they too feel that way at times, I’m not alone on this. Not to mention the whole thing is not anything close to stating facts like China invades Japan. You inserted the word ‘most’ when bringing this up, not me. I’m very well aware that many WoW players don’t know another MMO game exists. Plus the fact that sandbox envy has NOTHING to do with switching to play such a game, I don’t understand what switching to DF has to do with that post?

          And finally, almost anyone who read that last post understood I was making a generalization to get to my point, and it was a point many agreed with. You REALLY think I believe you need the 5 worst players on any WoW server to cause a wipe in ANY instance, and that I hold that opinion as some fact?

          You are taking the post exactly like Darren took it in his comment, and just read the follow-up comments to get my general response. I’d suggest you read Lum’s comments on my blog to get his take on what I write. Then do a little history search on what Lum was posting back in the day that made him famous and compare it to my blog today.

          My overall point though (sorry KTR for this) is you are try so very hard to find examples of facts that are incorrect and uses as sensationalized headlines and instead link a bunch of opinions you don’t agree with. Again, link a post where I write the equivalent of “China invades Japan”, not where I write “If China invaded Japan…”. I’m sorry it upsets you that I can still make WoW-related posts with general accuracy without having played WotLK, for some reason that just eats away at people like you.

          I’d also suggest you don’t consider blog posts to be such ‘serious business’, and rather than trying to nitpick details (especially incorrectly), consider the overall point being made, especially when the numbers used are not the ‘real’ story.

          Do you think sub numbers are the only measure of a successful game? Do you ever read a story from a sandbox and wish you experienced that? Do you believe instances being easier in WoW makes PUG groups not as painful?

          Or do you just read the blog, see 60% of WAR players are tourists (a number that clearly is an educated guess since NO ONE knows the real number), and go blind to the overall point being made?

          1. Or do you just read the blog, see 60% of WAR players are tourists (a number that clearly is an educated guess since NO ONE knows the real number), and go blind to the overall point being made?


            I read your blog, see made up numbers and think you’re showing off for attention.


  5. I’m a professional newspaper editor. I can’t tell you how much research I do on topics that I have absolutely zero interest in covering or writing about. Research does not equal journalism. On the other side of the job, sometimes you have minutes to interview a source and get a story published. Time — in most cases — is a luxury that bloggers have, not journalists.

    Blogging isn’t necessarily journalism. My neighbor who blogs about her cats is not a journalist. Sometimes what I write at Incoming Pull is journalism, sometimes it is pure editorial. The aim of journalism is to write without emotion and relay the facts in a balanced manner.

    Video game journalism is a little different depending on where you read it.

    This so-called “real” journalism — which I do professionally — only has one thing different than blogging and that is the fact that I report on the things that no blogger would sit through. Bloggers get to relay whatever information they choose to. Journalists don’t get a choice.

    Aside from that, there is a sort of understood credibility with journalists (don’t try bringing up network news, it’s corrupted and that isn’t a secret). Bloggers — as far as the big picture — have a much harder time with credibility.

    I love Brian Green, but his post was mostly a knee-jerk reaction to a “blogger” not giving M59 its due credit and respect. There’s a reason WoW gets all the press and M59 got none.

    1. A bit of a flashback for SAT takers:

      research:journalism::QA:game development

      You can have journalism without research, but just like QA in games, it shows usually when it’s missing.

      As I posted in my article, AJ Glasser at GamePro took a few minutes to email me for clarification. GamePro’s story was still published in a timely manner, and even had an original quote from me. Time should not be an excuse.

      Anyway, I wouldn’t consider this a “knee-jerk” reaction. It happens to touch upon an issue (legitimacy) that I feel very passionate about, however. I will also say that although I pick on Joystiq directly, a lot of sites got their information wrong, too. Many didn’t clarify that the game was going to continue running. I just decided to limit my ire to one site so that I can avoid industry-wide blacklisting and hope to get some sort of coverage for future projects. ;)

      There’s a reason WoW gets all the press and M59 got none.

      Hey, we’ve gotten a lot of press recently, so it’s not accurate to say M59 has gotten none.

      But, yes, there are reasons: WoW is more popular so it brings in more eyeballs to watch ads, and WoW has a larger marketing and PR budget. Not all that hard to figure out.

      As I said before, I’m kind of surprised the story of NDS’s closure got covered as far as it did. I expected a few MMO-related posts like on here.

      1. Hey Brian!

        For the sake of clarification:

        Incoming Pull lamented the loss of NDS during last week’s radio show (don’t worry, we reported that the game will continue running), so when I wrote “There’s a reason WoW gets all the press and M59 got none,” it is meant as a representation of why M59 hasn’t gotten that much press the past several years.

        And I’m happy that GamePro was able to get a hold of you in a timely issue. My comments on timeliness was neither a lesson on absolution nor a direct parallel to NDS coverage. I also never defended Joystiq and their bloggers.

        1. I guess I’m unsure of your point, then. The reason why M59 hasn’t gotten coverage in the last few years is because we’ve not done much with it. When we worked on the rendering engine upgrade and then didn’t see an more interest in the game in 2004, that really stopped my active development on the game. Small game + no news = no coverage. Not surprising.

          Unless you mean that M59 hasn’t gotten coverage because I don’t sit quietly in the corner and hope someone deigns to notice my good work? Heh.

          At any rate, thanks for mentioning that the game will continue. That was always a high priority for us.

          1. This was my point. You and I agree on why press regarding M59 slowed.

            I know the comment about you sitting in the corner was facetious, but since I have your attention, M59 is responsible for the MMO genre of today. WoW would not be WoW without the work of NDS and M59. You guys should be very proud.

      2. Please. Mainstream newspapers print wild speculation all the time. And people just lap it right up.

  6. Industry supported journalism has done more to hurt products than to help them. I can recall certain trade journals in the computer related field where I could check the adds first and tell you how the product rated. You could actually see a product raved about by the journalist get a lower score than the one downplayed by the journalist, next to their winning products full page advertisement. Yes, this one is faster, cheaper and more reliable, therefore we had to choose the more expensive, buggy and less performing one.

    You go to a “Blogger site” and expect to sometimes come across less researched topics and take them with a grain of salt. Personally, I rather absorb the information presented and then do my own research to draw my own opinion. If your not well versed enough to draw your own opinion, then it won’t matter much anyway.

    When you become attached to a site like KTR or Massively Online, you come to know what you can expect when a blogger tells you what they think. In most cases you followed their past history and know they are giving you an honest opinion on something based on past reviews/blogs or they personally don’t care for that genre of game and might be giving a skewed opinion. I far prefer that over a “safe” opinion by someone carefully walking the boundaries of employment verses true opinion.

    People have no problem telling the restaurant where they have nothing to loose that the meal was not fit to be fed to any living creature while they would refer to the wife’s meal as “it definitely was different and interesting”. (it was different in the respect that I never had anything quite so bad and interesting that I survived the combination of what was meant to be a satisfying meal turned bad).

    BLOGGER: If you can stay awake long enough to kill 1,000 creatures with different names, yet all fighting the same only to be killed by the final mob which sends you back to your starting point whereby you crawl back another 2 hours, your lucky!

    JOURNALIST: The game brings back the flavor that so many hardcore players have longed for. Long travel with rewards at the end, not for the care-bear crowd, encourages grouping!

  7. Kendricke says: “Real journalism isn’t about removing emotions, bias, or even entertainment from the writing.”

    Timothy “Youngblood” Young says: The aim of journalism is to write without emotion and relay the facts in a balanced manner.

    These two things are not alike.

    We are throwing words around here: “credibility,” “integrity,” “honesty.” Is that what a journalist is?

    Would I be a journalist if I only discussed my actual play sessions? I have all my own facts, and then I add my opinions? Or would I remain a mere blogger? What if I had 10,000 hits per day for my well-loved actual play stories? What if only my mom read my blog, but my facts were stone cold accurate all the time?

    That’s the thing with video games… what are the facts? MMOs are more interesting because we can hypothesize social agendas… like Syncaine’s WoW tourism industry, but how many other facts would I need apart from my own experience of the game?

    Kendricke brings up an interesting point about a food critic journalist. What are the facts for her? “I ordered a medium rare Kobe beef steak, with mashed turnips, and seasonal greens with a 2006 Goats Do Roam Shiraz Reserve.” That’s about it… the rest is all her opinion. So how does she get “integrity”? By being honest… which is the whole point of my post. :)

    1. Ravious said: We are throwing words around here: “credibility,” “integrity,” “honesty.” Is that what a journalist is?

      In short, yes. Cynicism aside, you can’t argue that credibility, integrity and honesty are assumed when a reader picks up a newspaper. Hard news stories — and even features — are filled with nothing but the official source. Opinions have no place in a news story. We (journalists) present the story and that is all. It is up to the reader to form an opinion.

      This is not the case with blogging. Does that mean that there’s not credibility, integrity and honesty in blogging? Of course not.

      Those values/viewpoints are already established with a newspaper. I can’t get into GDC flashing my credentials for my blog that I created yesterday. I can, however, get into GDC with my press credentials from the newspaper that hired me yesterday.

      If a blogger is not honest, there is no recourse (unless he/she is a paid blogger). If a professional journalist is dishonest, then he/she is fired. It pays to be credible.

      There are many blogs that uphold the unspoken standards of journalistic integrity. But because it is self-published, there is nothing that states a blogger must do this. Some bloggers are journalists, some are not.

      * all of this is coming from an idealistic approach to what journalism is supposed to be. It’s what my newspaper is, I can tell you that.

      1. Sure, it’s good to know. So in your opinion a journalist has maybe “forced credibility”? Like you say, a lying journalist won’t be a journalist for long… but a BS’ing blogger just gets more comments. :)

        So a journalist is like a degree or license rather than how a person shares words?

        1. It may be sad, but true. Credibility is built into journalism. Now, when it comes to sources, credibility and trust must be earned. Sometimes, that takes years. But this is to the sources. To the every day reader, the credibility is assumed to a certain extent.

          Like any profession, it is understood by the customer that whoever is presenting the service has been properly trained to do so. They may not do it well, or even right, but the training has been there.

  8. I think a point is being missed about “real journalists” unless they are hugely popular seldom get to voice their true opinions 100%. “Real Journalists” often depend on advertisers, not just subscriptions to keep their employment.

    “Integrity” in the real media is a commodity that is purchased by popularity, not credibility. Andy Rooney got by with his opinions because people enjoyed his diatribes so much, not because he was always accurate. He could say what he wanted because he was the anchor of the show in popularity. Advertisers knew he spelled $$$ like a super bowl slot. Those are the exceptions, not the rule.

    Yes it is a financial circle where subscribers generate advertiser interest which is where the real money for the media is generated; but make no mistake that advertisers do have a strong control on the “opinions” put forth.

    You can see the warning signs if you read into them.

    The game was released too early due to pressure from…instead of this should have never hit the market, at best it is Beta in the Alpha stage.

    The game shows great potential…instead of it was a flop, with luck it will get better.

    It’s challenging offering paths of advancement to those willing to put in the effort…instead of it being a grind fest that you loose interest in early on.

    Do people seriously think that their going to get a honest opinion from a site/media that depends on major advertisers that will tell them “This game is a flop, avoid it at all costs”?

  9. Blogs are no different than a gaming site, a newspaper, or a TV news channel; different people will trust different sources.

    Some people watch Fox News and believe every word, others claim every word is a lie. Just like above people believe I post lies for kicks, yet I also know (thanks to the CPP for DF) that people are willing to fork over money to try something I’ve recommended because they trust me enough to do so.

    I trust everyone at KTR, so when a post about LotRO improving is made, I believe it. I don’t trust a word Keen writes, so when he says game X is amazing, I wait a month to see why he thinks it sucks. I still read both for entertainment, but only one could possibly influence me in a way to spend money. What that’s worth to an advertiser is another topic of course.

    1. Bloggers are great like that, if you can find someone who has the same taste as you, you can basically just listen to whether they like a game or not and then you don’t have to figure out which big site’s reviews to believe or not.

  10. There are bloggers who do interviews, who go out and get original stories, such as Michael Yon.

    There are even more that do the same for their local governments, trying to gather information and report it, esp in small communities where there is one local paper which, without competition to drive it, may not really go after stories it should.

    Those are acting as journalists.

    When they do editorials on subjects they know about, is that journalism? Or rather are they journalists. If people who write for editorial pages can get press passes, even though they don’t do much or any investigative journalism, are they still journalists? And if not why do they get press passes? Would people like Olberman or O’Reilly get a press pass and be called a journalist, even though all they do is commentary?

    Or does it depend on the quality? Really if it depended on quality then we’d have to take away journalistic credentials from quite a few people who have jobs at newspapers and magazines.

    because if the only requirement is to be hired by an old, established media company, that says nothing at all about the profession and is not a definition that is even sufficient for the last decade let alone the next century. Self publishing is changing the world in many more ways. It’s changing journalism as well.

    1. yunk said: Or does it depend on the quality? Really if it depended on quality then we’d have to take away journalistic credentials from quite a few people who have jobs at newspapers and magazines.

      because if the only requirement is to be hired by an old, established media company, that says nothing at all about the profession and is not a definition that is even sufficient for the last decade let alone the next century. Self publishing is changing the world in many more ways. It’s changing journalism as well.

      I totally agree with you. Whether or not the assumed credibility by a newspaper reporter is right or not will always be up for debate. O’Reilly and Olberman — despite opinions about them — each have solid news backgrounds and the training to boot. They are now political pundits because their background and experience has given them the chance. It’s the same with any syndicated columnist. You don’t just fall into that gig out of college.

      What will be interesting is to see how print journalism evolves in this digital medium. Will there be a time where bloggers get the same assumed credibility that newspaper journalists have? I don’t know. With the changing medium, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

      Now, do I want that? Hell, no. I’m a trained journalist that is not only paying for college, but trying to house and feed my family. I need all the help I want.

      Yes, that last part was facetious.

      1. My main concern is allowing more competition instead of putting up barriers. The government is openly talking about “bailouts” of newspapers now, which will only serve to stifle new media and the type of information that people actually want. Newspapers are dying, it’s merely progress in information technology. Times are changing and news organizations can find other ways of reporting and making a living. Even more important: if an independent press is important then having one beholden to government handouts is sure as hell NOT independent.

        Secondly there have been plenty of cases of prosecutors going after bloggers or people who have reporting information over the internet. They claim they are not journalists and so must give up their sources. (it has happened before to people in the middle of writing a book, but in these internet cases it has already been published). To me they are acting as journlists: they found information and reported it. To the prosector they are just gossips.

        Of course then there’s the FEC and congress wanting to control what we say about politicians. Or the new FTC rules requiring disclosure (and as we all know regulation assumes you are guilty until you prove you are innocent, unlike criminal law, so bloggers better save your receipts ).

        That to me is scary and a threat to the first amendment rights of the average person. And that is precisely why “is a blogger a journalist” is important. It is not just an academic excercise.

  11. Good reflection. But this is a core question that even (good) journalists have. There are some newspapers/medias that aren’t even at the level of a misinformed blogger (be it games or anything else). And there are the kind of journalists that track the information around the world, triple-checking it, and only write lengthy articles or books. There are all sorts of shades of grey.

    And it seems that the videogame press has still to evolve beyond a certain form of “semi-pro-ism”. I regularly read the 3 main UK gaming journals and you can see how 1 is simply a collation of opinionated articles, while another1 adds a layer of checked information with analyses with a certain depth. I’ve read a few GAME magazines but at the time it was too technical for me.

    You’re doing a fine job as you’re clearly relaying your opinion with the grains of salt of your experience. You use references (our students even have problems with that at uni!) and don’t rush. There’s just enough emotion to make it enjoyable, without falling into the obvious “private eye”.

    FYI there was a small revolution about 7 years ago (at the time of the Paris’ riots) in France where the big media journals felt an extremely heavy pressure from layman’s blogs, their sales were decreasing fast while blogs were tearing them apart with their inability to cope with the speed of events. The best bloggers became part of the big media machine, with some creating their own little businesses, but most of them collapse under the (monetary) pressure sent back the the French blogosphere.

    Cherrish preciously your independence, don’t sacrifice it unless it means becoming better as a whole. (I only read you regularly but KTR seems really good!)

  12. “The good bloggers, like those found to the right of this simple post”


    I got to that part and knew I was just an ogger. I haven’t earned my B yet. Don’t get me wrong, it is a masterful post (<—butt kissing), but I got right side bar tracked.

    I'm just kidding really. Great post!

  13. The problem with trying to pin this to some definition of what journalism is, is that mainstream journalism has become a farce as of recent. Glenn Greenwald has written at length about the failures of current mainstream journalism. His main point is that taking objectivity to an extreme is detrimental. If you just try to present the “facts” and every “fact” is just citing a source, then all you do is empower those who are officially “recognized” to spout bullshit and have it accepted as reality.


    Presenting all the facts without filtering them through a reality filter is exactly what our news media is fucking up. Yes, this means that bias can and does have an impact. But presenting both sides of an argument without pointing out the complete bullshit that one side harbors is itself disingenuous.

  14. Frankly, most “real” journalists are embarrassingly unprofessional nowadays, as well. Every time I see a story that doesn’t include “who, what, where, when, why” I die a little inside. And these “real” journalists are PAID to produce this tripe.

    Also, Brandon, makes some very good points that are related. Even those journalists who are competent enough to manage the basics still often fail by taking “authorities” at their word (but he’s an ECONOMIST, of course he’s knows what he’s talking about) or completely ignoring their own biases (Think “gunman slaughters teenager on sidewalk” when the actual facts show that the “gunman” was 80, the “teenager” was an 18 year old crack addict, and the only reason anyone was “slaughtered” anywhere was because the “teenager” was attempting to rob the “gunman” while wielding a completely insignicant, not even worthy of a footnote, butcher knife.).

    Thanks, I’ll take the “amateur” work of the bloggers any day over the pablum produced by the “professionals….”

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