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EDITORIAL: RIP, Journalistic Integrity

In observing the GameSpot/Jeff Gerstmann affair, one thing comes to mind. “Videogame journalism.” Someone once told me that it was an oxymoron. I’m beginning to believe he’s on the money.

The entire Jeff Gerstmann fiasco is a shining example of how infantile and unprofessional the industry really is, and why video games will be considered infantile, despite out-grossing the Hollywood movie industry these days. You don’t get respect if you behave like infants.

I come from a computer game background. I started on the Atari 2600, to be sure, and owned a Nintendo Enterainment System, but soon after, I “graduated” to the Commodore 64, and from there, I owned an Amiga then finally a PC in 1992 when the Amiga faded away as a viable platform. In 1998, I started writing articles and reviews for Computer Games Strategy Plus (aka Computer Games Magazine), and have remained a journalist in one form or another since.

I also studied journalism, in Bronx High School of Science then college, though not as a major. However, I absorbed enough knowledge to understand the concept of “journalistic integrity”. While I have slipped on a rare occasion from time to time in that regard, I at least understood instantly if I made a slip, and those slips were never integrity-compromising.

Which is why, in this day and age, I sometimes pull my hair out from what I perceive as major journalistic violations, which are either de rigueur and not viewed as such, or done knowingly without moral or intellectual care or obligation.

Magazines that cater to traditional video game consoles are among the worst, such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, which regularly performs acts that would have resulted in firings at “serious” news journalism, such as the Dennis Dyack affair, in which they received flack for “reviewing” preview builds at E3, including Too Human. (They refused to acknowledge they were reviewing those builds, despite using grades that dominated each preview article, and stating explicitly that the game was good or bad. Any disclaimers that the games were not actual builds were more or less hidden and de-emphasized.) The editors and writers themselves have little to no actual business education, frequently commenting on complex industry news as if they’ve received business MBAs at Harvard or had interned at The Wall Street Journal. Various writers, such as Shane Bettenhausen, have clear agendas which are referred to as “fanboyism”, a fanatical pseudo-religious bias of one console system or series over others. It would be amusing to observe such mindless devotion to corporate entities if it weren’t in adults in a position of power at a major periodical. Listening to podcasts of many of these sites at best are good-natured bantering with some insight, and at worst are sexist, racist and/or homophobic, especially when Sean Reiley (aka Sean Baby) is included. It is interesting to note that these magazines often are entirely young white males. It is interesting to note that computer game magazines tend to be far more mild and reasoned, perhaps due to the older demographic of the more expensive machines, and the single, dominant platform. (After all, who doesn’t own a computer or at the very least play casual games?)

There is also the issue of the internet. The problems of internet journalism have been widely examined, dissected, and criticized. From the race to post news first – often bypassing such important journalistic procedure such as verifying your sources or doing background research – to the massive competition from not only major sites to minor sites (such as GameStooge) to personal blogs to the anonymity of the internet. So desperate are news sites for information and one-upmanship, an anonymous forum poster calling him/herself “gamespot” is treated as a legitimate insider. Do any of these people understand the difference between first-hand, second-hand and complete and utter twaddle? Anonymous sources are never truly anonymous – the reporter knows who the source is. Deep Throat had credibility because Woodward and Bernstein knew who Deep Throat was (Mark Felt, Sr.), even if no one save them knew his identity ‘til Felt’s death. Felt had a high-placed job in the FBI – do the reporters parroting “gamespot’s” forum post know who he is? Can they?

The other problem is that writers are reporting rumors as fact, and visibly biased. It is “clear” that Gerstmann was fired due to a low review score given to a game with major advertising on the site. Why? According to most of these websites, correlation is causality. No other facts are needed, such as the fact that Gerstmann was fired two weeks later when the last of the major game releases had been released and reviewed – an obvious time to release an editor. The reason for Gerstmann’s firing has not been disclosed, with Gerstmann claiming he is legally unable to reveal why, and CNet only stating that it was not due to the review. This doesn’t stop a major site like GameSpot being harmed by the reputation, and worse, the backlash suffered by Eidos and the Kane & Lynch developers, who are perceived as complicitous, as well as backlash to the game itself, which suddenly receives additional, undeserved negative feedback. (It must be noted that the Metacritic score of the game is 69, and while considered a “low-to-average” score, is higher than Gerstmann’s 6.0 score.)

The fallout is somewhat disturbing. Gerstmann’s friends and colleagues have taken this opportunity to drive a mob-like lynching of GameSpot, convincing many gamers to cancel subscriptions to the site, claiming it is a corporate shill; this despite the fact that nothing is known about the firing save Gerstmann and CNet. Ironically, GameSpot’s reviews have had the reputation of being the stingiest in the industry, and gamers could very well be sinking a serious gaming site for no reason save moral, righteous – and as-of-yet-unfounded – indignation. It does not help that, judging by postings and written reactions, that most of the gamers are immature, either in age or in personality, which is, of course, emblematic of the entire industry. This reporter has no idea about the true nature of the firing. I don’t profess to know anything about it, simply because I don’t take anonymous sources seriously, nor do I give weight to associates of Gerstmann, who have probably personal or professional interests in him. I don’t find CNet’s simple “It wasn’t the review” response as informative, and Gerstmann’s silence seems to be more intent on holding GameSpot hostage rather than legality. Additionally, if his silence is legally enforced, then it must be something more serious than a reaction to a review, especially since it wasn’t the first time a writer on GameSpot wrote a negative review about a game that was advertised on the site – and a 6.0 review isn’t a 2.0 review. People interested in the plot and concept of Kane & Lynch would still be intrigued enough to purchase it – or were until this “scandal”. (I’m hesitant to use the word “scandal” because that implies something of a serious nature, and I’m yet to be convinced that the firing itself is serious, though the backlash around it is becoming so.)

The brouhaha surrounding this affair is emblematic of the video game journalism industry at its very worst. There are various things I would say, but I’m forced to remind my fellow writers that good news, good journalism, and good integrity is not being the first to report. Everyone wants to break a huge story – it’s a feather in their cap. It’s more valuable, in my eyes, to take the time to examine the story, let it play out, get personal input, and make an informed article. Know the difference between editorializing and reporting – and the tone of an article alone can indicate whether it’s objective or not. A bit of a disclaimer here: I’ve written items in a snarky tone on articles that I felt were amusing, but that’s my style on a game blog, and I’ve remained objective when dealing with serious news – and this GameSpot/Gerstmann situation is serious news. Most of all, don’t assume. The most important words, as I stated earlier, in journalism is simple: correlation is not causality. A good reporter always finds the story inside the story. It could be that Gerstmann was fired for the low review – but Occam’s Razor would state that in order for Gerstmann to be fired, he’d have to have done a lot more than that. Getting paid too much is a big reason – perhaps GameSpot felt they could replace him with a less expensive, newer editor. Maybe Gerstmann violated company rules, or something darker.

This is not to say review integrity is not an important issue – book reviews, in particular, have become ravaged by corporate pressure. When was the last time you read a negative book review – or any independent book review at all? The sole major independent book reviewer is The New York Times in the Sunday supplement – otherwise, “reviews” are done by booksellers themselves, such as Amazon.com. Positive reviews sell more product, and booksellers have gotten so powerful that it’s very rare to read a review panning a big release.

We may never know what actually happened until much later – but one thing is for sure: it serves no one to harm GameSpot, much less the developers of Kane & Lynch. Be careful of whom you attack at whom’s behest – these lynchings usually end up being self-mutilation.

Cool Kids Are into Social Media, AMIRITE


    76 Responses to “EDITORIAL: RIP, Journalistic Integrity”

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    1. Peter Says:

      The worst part is that rumours like these are like avalanches, regardless of the accuracy of the reports, it will continue,

      If it came to light tomorrow that the firing was entirely the fault of the employee, that he’d committed a sackable offence totally outside the spectrum of his reviews, it would be too late, the rumour is out, and the odds of people accepting that they were wrong to attack Eidos and Gamespot is almost zero.

    2. DEEP_NNN Says:

      I’d be curious to know which site broke the rumour first.

      The article has caused me to reflect on some of my own behavior. I’ve attacked, this site, 2old2play, Kotaku, Joystiq and some others for spreading unsubstantiated rumours. I believe in what I wrote. In spite of that I still ended my email subscription to Gamespot based on conjecture. I should have waited a bit longer for this rumour mill to settle down.

      As for your article, much of it is good but for some reason I didn’t like the parts where you were qualifying your status as an informed reported. It was a bit like you were sanctifying yourself. Do you have a Bio on this site where you could put all this info?

    3. Jonah Falcon Says:

      No, I just just saying that I have an informed opinion on this because I’ve had experience in the field for a long period of time.

    4. Peter Says:

      I think part of the problem here is that people are trying to squeeze a rumour into a conspiracy-shaped hole in their thoughts.

      ‘Everyone’ knows that Game Reviews are influenced by corporations, I sometimes wonder if this is the same ‘Everyone’ who know that games cause violence or that Aliens are Among Us. There seem to be an awful lot of ‘everyone’s and apparently, they know an awful lot that I don’t.

      So something happens that is vaguely ‘corporate interference’ shaped, and fits quite nicely into what everyone already ‘knows’, flame to fuse, as it were.

      Personally, I’m not passing judgement yet, I’ll wait and see what transpires, if it IS corporate influence, it won’t stay hidden for long in this scrutiny, but we have to be careful we aren’t simply creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    5. DEEP_NNN Says:

      Agree. Even though I want to be fair, I feel compelled to condemn corporate evil where maybe none exists.

    6. Devin Grimes Says:

      It’s a strange situation, and we’ll likely never know the truth to what actually happened.

      Either way, something shady went down, whether from the business or editorial side — and frankly, most readers don’t like that. It’s a shame business as a profit-driven machine has to be so integrated into opinions as a reader-driven machine — with sales trying to land deals with a certain publisher conflicting with editorial review scores, something is bound to go wrong.

      Gerstmann was a great personality for Gamespot. For the most part, I tended to agree with his reviews (do we all really think Twilight Princess is still a 10?), and he brought a lot of his humor and experience to the site’s productions.

      Additionally, with the 1Up-Dyack situation, I think it’s just more a case of an outspoken developer. The magazine stated that these were not the final builds of the game, and only represented those that were in playable form and the current state of it. There was a general consensus among those that did play the build that it wasn’t looking so hot. Penning it with a “Terrible” gets the message out quickly that it wasn’t shaping up so well, and with good measure — the game still isn’t out for a reason.

      We don’t all know what is going on behind the scenes, but people jump to conclusions that Publisher/Developer pressure has all been a big money hat scandal. If it has been at Gamespot, then why the hostility now from Gerstmann? Several editors stated that the review has to be looked over among each other before it is published — if something was clearly wrong, it wouldn’t have been published. The video review was rather slanderous, but firing him two weeks after the fact just to keep company moral up is just cold.

      It’s certainly not a step in the right direction from Gamespot, whether if it was the review itself that got Gerstmann canned or not. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to divulge details on exactly why he was fired, but the current hostility towards the site and looking forward, it’s reviews on “AAA games” cannot bode well. It’s a shame the rest of the editors who’ve done a great job so far, have to clean up the mess and persevere with the usual charm. It’ll be very interesting to see the future of On the Spot and The Hotspot.

    7. Jonah Falcon Says:

      No – EGM blasted Too Human mercilessly, calling it “Awful” in big bold letters, based on an incomplete build and basically said it was doomed to failure.

      Dyack noted that Silicon Knights had shown worse builds of Nintendo games and didn’t receive that treatment.

      But mostly, they REVIEWED a PREVIEW build. Read the issue if you get a chance. They basically are reviewing preview builds, and as a result, a lot of publishers told EGM that they would think twice about ever letting them see any sort of pre-release builds of games. EGM had to kiss major ass to placate various publishers.

      Sort of like “RIP GAMESPOT” in huge letters in an article. (smirk, chuckle)

    8. Devin Grimes Says:

      I’m not trying to contradict you or create a big point of debate, but the magazine itself states, “a lot can happen before these games land on store shelves, so some duds may actually turn out to be studs.”

      The only thing they did different than other outlets was assign a visual representation to what they on display — hence the “opinion” in Opinionated Preview Guide. The whole point of the article was to talk about what was shown then and there, not the potential. The gushing cover story a few issues earlier was for that. Regular readers already knew the potential the game had, so what’s the point of rehashing prior statements?

    9. Jonah Falcon Says:

      The magazine said that disclaimer in small print. The TERRIBLE! ratings were bold and aggressive. And it had some carryover, as it influenced Penny Arcade to slam it as well.

      And trust me, in advertising, it’s the big letters that get the attention.

      And furthermore, why say a game is TERRIBLE! or GREAT! in the FIRST PLACE? Why assign that grade to unfinished games. What do they mean, anyway? Why call something TERRIBLE? What does it mean? That the game is terrible now? Does that mean it’s going to be terrible if it’s not “fixed”, despite being unfinished? It was barely an alpha build.

      EGM helped kill E3, you know. A lot of developers got sick and tired of magazines evaluating unfinished work.

      No matter what, Too Human got TERRIBLE PRESS. It was bashed from everyone who read the preview or saw Penny Arcade. What was Silicon Knights supposed to do? Not show it? Then what press would they get at all, while other games steal their thunder. Out of sight, out of mind, you know.

      No, EGM wrote reviews of previews, and incidentally, the average reader of EGM is in high school or younger.

    10. DEEP_NNN Says:

      Just an FYI.

      I found the user “gamespot”‘s responses to be totally believable.

      If someone is faking being an insider or telling untruths as an insider, they sure are convincing.

      An incredible story unfolds, I think. I hope it stays in the “news”.

    11. C. Says:

      I think you misdiagnose the root of the sadly pervasive juvenility of “game culture.” Can you blame the immature for being attracted to games that pander to the worst and most titillating? I mean, what passes for maturity in games is either nudity or a lot of f-words. I always have this sense that the gaming media is this sort of provisionally legitimate thing that doesn’t even take itself seriously. But why should it when it’s writing to children?

      Kane and Lynch was a bad game, but what I found most disturbing about it was that it wasn’t a game as much as an extended movie pitch. I don’t think nearly as much time was spent developing mechanics and gameplay as went into coming up with “cinematic” locales and stylistic sadism.

      (I am obviously generalizing and purposely overlooking a lot of great smart games, but they remain fringe titles or poor sellers, and aren’t the point.)

    12. Sidepocket Says:

      I love how you talk about “real journalism” like somehow everything is all sunshine and rainbows and the New York Times, CNN and Fox News.

      Right. I am studying news right now and it is not just games, news and reporting is fucked.

      So get off your high horse please.

    13. Jonah Falcon Says:

      Sidepocket: Except most news have standards. There are no standards at all in video game journalism. When someone fucks up like that guy did for the New York Times, he gets FIRED. Can you imagine any other sort of news industry putting up with someone like Seanbaby?

      And by the way, editors get fired all the time in other news fields — look at Judith Regan, for instance.

      PS. Hope you have fun in class. The real world awaits.

    14. Brian Carnell Says:

      “CNet only stating that it was not due to the review. ”

      Um, no. Talk about shoddy journalism.

      The closest they’ve come to this is saying that they don’t fire people due to pressure from advertisers. Clearly they had a lot of problems with this specific review, however, given that they took down the video review and edited the text review.

      Gertsman says he can’t respond due to legal reasons. All CNET has to do is release him from any legal obligations not to discuss his firing and then let the chips fall where they may.

    15. Uhh no Says:

      You’re blowing the EGM preview WAAAY out of proportion. This article is more hostility than truth.

    16. bo dizzle Says:

      What an absolute crock of shit this was.

      You make the a valid point here and there but seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a masterful piece of damage control. So, kudo’s on that I guess.

      Gamespot deserves to be chastised and burned down over this.

      And attacking EGM (one of the few valid points) but attacking Shane over Dan “subtle beauty” Hsu was that major flaw in your temper tantrum against them. I could sit here and pick this apart, but really, I’ll be surprised if this comment is left up.

    17. Randy D. Says:

      The whole EGM/Too Human Issue is really interesting. I haven’t read the preview that slamed it, so take what I say for what its’ worth.

      If you’ve watched recent episodes of 1upshow and listened to 1up yours, you’d hear a very different EGM. I think they realised their error and have since gone back and really tried to make Too Human look good. In all fairness, only now do they sound fair and objective about the game. (and really, why wouldn’t they be?Silicon Knights’ previous game, Eternal Darkness for the GCN was very well recieved).

      The second thing I would like to say is that I feel a lot of this community backlash is tied into the personality of Jeff himself. A lot of people like Jeff, and they’ve gotten used to seeing him around. He’s one of those guys you would almost think would end up dieing reviewing a game for gamespot – he’s been around for a while and as such has garnered a lot of respect. So to see Jeff get fired is kind of a kick in the nuts for the community as a whole.

      Right now the game community is a hodgepodge of journalism and non-journalism. If you read some of the stuff the GFW guys write, for instance, it’s very good, very fair. But the problem is that not everyone writes like GFW – much gaming coverage isn’t done by what we term professional writers. Most of them are off the journalistic integrity hook, because gameblogs like Kotoku, Joystiq and Destructoid have no obligation to be objective. Afterall, they are blogs, not news sites.

      Last thing I have to say is of a fond memory. A while ago a magazine published by Ziff Davis came out call Xbox Nation. It’s no longer in print, but it remeains the sole piece of gaming print that I religiously bought simply because I loved the writing. I find myself continually reading 1up just so I can catch bits from some of the writers who are still with the company.

    18. Greatness Says:

      Hmmm…This is interesting:
      “The other problem is that writers are reporting rumors as fact, and visibly biased. It is “clear” that Gerstmann was fired due to a low review score given to a game with major advertising on the site.”

      Especially due to the fact that when “Hour of Victory” was released and was given a 2.0 out of 10 on Gamespot, it still had major advertisements all around the site even 2 weeks after the review was posted. Seriously people get a grip. Who knows why Gerstmann got fired? It is all speculation as far as I am concerned.

    19. crummy Says:

      Instead of just throwing up your hands at game journalism in general, I’d prefer it if you started pointing fingers. I’ve seen several sites refer to the “gamestop” forum posts that you refer to, though both emphasised the fact that though the posts do seem to have an interesting amount of inside information they are anonymous forum posts.

      Additionally, you seem to discredit Gerstmann’s (no longer) coworkers standing beside him, stating that the only people who know what went on are Gerstmann and his boss(es). However, I’m pretty sure in an office environment like that, his fellow employees would have a pretty decent idea, if not the entirety, of what went on.

    20. jake Says:

      There are good, truthful, honest journalist. It’s just that because of a few bad apples, people chose to view the whole field with one color.

      I find it sad that the bad apples get all the attention while the voices of a few good ones go silent into the night.

      People are attracted to the dramatic the unusual. Just as everyone jumps at the news of a bad politician, people love stories about bad journalist/news reporter/writer, because who wants to hear about a good journalist, a good politician right? Its just boring.

      I hear people comment all the time about integrity this or that, but lets be honest if anyone of those people who were quick to criticize were offered an insane amount of money would they not take it?

      Also keep in mind ANY publicity is good publicity, no matter what.

    21. Dan "Shoe" Hsu Says:

      I like that your blog preaches the standards of journalism, yet…

      Well, if I may, a few corrections:

      1. It’s Electronic Gaming Monthly, not “Games”

      2. We never said we were reviewing incomplete games. As we’ve been doing for a few years now in our “Opinionated Guide to E3,” we’ve been offering our opinions of games in progress. The reader feedback has been overwhelmingly positive–they’ve made it quite clear they’re sick of “glowing” previews that ignore the clear problems, so we’ve been purposely giving more active feedback on early games. We’re not passing final judgment by any means — just letting people know (people who can’t travel to E3) what the games look like at that point in time. A simple snapshot. If the developers don’t want their games evaluated at that point in their development, why would they put their games on display for so many (including the semi “public”) to see and touch and play? Plus, how much “flack” (as you put it) did we really get? Outside of you and Dyack, that is. Is that “first-hand” or “second-hand” information?

      3. Seanbaby is a humor columnist.

      4. “Various writers, such as Shane Bettenhausen, have clear agendas”…is that a journalistic fact or just your opinion? (plus, admittedly, the opinion of some message board posters — although every high-profile editor has been accused of this at some point, including myself) Is what you just stated any more “proper” than what you’re complaining about with regards to the reporting on the GameSpot situation?

      5. “EGM had to kiss major ass to placate various publishers.” Did we really? Can you provide proof? I don’t ever recall doing that, but maybe you know something the writers and editors at EGM don’t know.

      6. “the average reader of EGM is in high school or younger” — according to our subscriber studies, the average age reader of EGM has been 21 years old for several years now. Slightly older in more recent studies.

      I agree with most of what you’re saying. I personally refrained from blogging about this situation specifically because I don’t know all the facts (and the people in the know aren’t all talking). But can you really talk about legit journalism when your examples are practically full of libel?

    22. Balaamsdonkey Says:

      Game integrity? How ’bout you put your name up on your article so some of us can do a check and see if maybe you have some reasons to hate the industry so much. Your speculation in the opposite direction is just as blind as anyone who uses those quotes as fact for a story (which never happened). People reported it as a rumor and speculated about it from there. And just a note on Sean Baby. Hes more of a comedian then a journalist. He writes jokes about obviously bad games he doesn’t writes seriously. That is the nail in the coffin for me thinking you really know much because if you did your homework, and really had a good feel for the industry you’d have known that and not made the mistake of presenting him as if he was a serious journalist.

    23. The Bad Guy Says:

      Jonah, you write very well, so I won’t be too mean, but to be honest, you’re pretty delusional about journalism. This is the first article I’ve read of yours, so I don’t know if you are based in the US, but FoxNews is the epitome of lack of journalistic integrity. Plenty of news outlets are just as bad, we just don’t hear about it as often.

      Unfortunately, the game industry keeps getting lambasted for things that exist in other industries as well. I’m pretty sure that the movie industry has problems, but we just don’t hear about it.

      Either way, these problems have been going on for quite a long time. It’s the industry’s worst kept secret that most publishers will pay to get a higher score. If not outright “$$$ = 9.5!” then they will threaten with not giving review copies or not doing ANY sort of business with a site/magazine. In my time writing for video game sites, at least 2 publishers asked the site owner to fire me because of low scores on reviews. I even got a letter from the lead designer pleading with me to raise the score on one of my reviews because otherwise they wouldn’t get a bonus, because if they got a 7.0 average on Gamerankings, they’d get paid more.

      It’s really sad because developers are really slaves to their publishers. A great game that doesn’t get the press it deserves could easily fall to the wayside. I’ve seen it happen.

      You seem to place the blame on the magazines, EGM specifically (which you mention over and over as if you have some personal issues with them), but it goes deeper than that. The problem is with publishers as well. The scores that games receive are too important to publishers (and the public, really). Nobody wants to read the reviews, they just see a score and go based off that. This is a problem because not all sites score equally.

      To many sites (and publishers), the 1-10 system is very skewed. Anything below a 7 is bad in many cases. That’s why Gerstmann’s review would freak out the publisher. To us logical people, 5 would be average, and 4 and below that would be in the “bad” territory, but most places consider 7 to be average, which screws up everything else. That’s why you see so many perfect scores nowadays. Bioshock, Orange Box, Super Mario Galaxy, none of these deserve a 10, but since 7 is average to most places, these good games have no other score THAN a 10, whereas they probably deserve no better than a 9.0 or 9.5 (and I love both Bioshock and Orange Box greatly).

      So in summary, the problem isn’t with only the game journalists, as you say, but with the public and publishers as well. If the publishers wouldn’t be so insistent about the importance of scores, sites wouldn’t be so pressured to deliver, and the public needs to change their perception.

      This whole thing is really pretty stupid because gaming is all about having fun! But it’s become such serious business (which is a big an argument about how “mature” the industry as a whole is as any) that people take it way too seriously. Let the developers have fun making the game, let the journalists have fun writing about them, and let the fans have fun playing them. I guess that’s too much to ask though.

    24. Matt Maynard Says:

      Gamespot and C-Net deserve everything they get from this debacle. Don’t you care that Jeff basically helped build GS with his bare hands and is now out on his proverbial ass? Do you really expect us to not lynch GS and Eidos after such an injustice has occured?

      After EGM helped kill E3 with their early build reviews would have been a much better time for this sort of editorial. Now it just makes people like me question your motivations and loyalties. I think this editorial is the very definition of unprofessional journalism.

      Seriously, who is supposed to get hurt? A has-been game publisher? A now ailing website? A publisher of magazines that breed fratboys?

      Why are you defending them and why are you such a condescending asshole? Have fun in the real world, students will be taking your job soon.

    25. Angeljoke » Blog Archive » L'altra casta Says:

      [...] Sulla rete si scatena la rivolta nel mondo videoludico. Gli abbonati a Gamespot.com iniziano a cancellare le loro subscriptions. I [...]

    26. Chris A Says:

      I agree with the overall message of your article, but you seem to be leaving out the very important fact that gamespot is BRINGING THIS ON THEMSELVES by allowing advertising of the very thing they are supposed to be impartially reviewing ALL OVER their site. The moment you allow that you are allowing all of your actions to be second-guessed. Also, when no official sources are letting out any information (and yes, possibly Gerstmann is being silent as it only makes him stronger). CNet has no obligation to say anything about the firing, but by doing so, and allowing the advertising, they are going to have their motives questioned. This is just how we paranoid, news-hungry mobs think :-)

      I may be upset with Gamespot over this (but then Im not a subscriber) and had no intention of purchasing this game before now. However, it’s not like people don’t forgive and forget, especially when the people involved start talking, which no one is doing now.

    27. Zombie Kid Says:

      Wow…so Eidos has you on the take too eh? Trying to slip in to Gerstmann’s editor job by being that “less expensive, newer editor”?

    28. Rob Volk Says:

      Good article, and like the others, I think this applies to more than just gaming news.

      Off-topic, but relevant: Mark Felt (Deep Throat) is not dead, he revealed himself to Vanity Fair. I won’t belabor it, but you claim he’s dead in the same paragraph as “doing background research”. :)

    29. Stephen Satchell Says:

      First, I’m not a gamer. Much of what I have read about the content of the Gerstmann review is not something I can judge. Nor can I comment about the advertising that was displayed with the original review. I leave that to others who know the facts.

      What I’m here to tell you is that stories like this one have a long, long history. When I started doing computer product reviews for InfoWorld magazine in 1983, the computer magazines had just started recovering from scandals much like this one, and worse. At the time, the cry from manufacturers was that the reviewers penning the articles had a conflict of interest that was to their disadvantage. There were also complaints that editors would “slant” articles based on how much advertising a company did with the publication. Sound familiar?

      The computer magazines answered these charges by making significant changes in how they did reviews. One result was that reviewers were required to make financial disclosures of all stocks owned in the industry, any consulting done within the industry, other employment, and any possible family financial ties with companies that provided products reviewed, or that competed with products reviewed. I knew one fellow reviewer who was canned, and blacklisted, because he was a little too close to companies whose products he reviewed for print.

      I remember getting called on the publisher’s carpet when Dell Computer pulled their advertising over my review of the PC’s Limited 286/12 — to the publisher’s credit, I was never in fear of my job because I had the paperwork to back up my panning review of the machine. (PC Tech Journal ran a similar panning review a few months after mine ran — that’s the difference in lead time between a weekly and a monthly publication.) A Dell PR person calling me and saying flatly, “I feel snake-bit” — yet I was praised for the quality and even-handedness of the review that caused Dell to yank their advertising.

      I’m here to say it may be premature to paint GameSpot’s hat black based on a single incident, especially one in which all the players are not telling us the whole story. (In fairness, the only reason I knew about the firing of a particular reviewer is that the reviewer was a co-worker at my day job — the editor told me so that I could avoid collateral backlash.) To question the hat color, though, is part of being a prudent reader.

      Be prudent.

    30. Born Says:

      First of all, news organizations have little to no standards. During the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, CNN showed 8 (supposedly) children being loaded into an ambulance, and reported that the Israeli military had indeed killed 8 children. Then we found out it was the same child loaded into an ambulance 8 times. That’s a disgusting use of deception in order to sway public opinion..

      As far as Jeff’s firing – they deleted his review at the same time they fired him, yet didn’t delete his other reviews. Pretending the two events weren’t related is just ridiculous.

    31. spiral Says:

      Sidepocket: You’re studying “news” ? Really… what class is that? Some high school elective so you didn’t have to take a real class?

      Take your uneducated, inexperienced self out of the comments and come back when you have a journalism degree.

      I’ve been watching the industry and reviewers play reach-around for decades. And I even fell for a few glowing reviews only to find after purchasing it on release day the game was terrible. Then going out and reading the non-paid reviews from game forums and such you find that everyone else had the same poor experience.

      Coincidence? I think not. This is why game review rags, sites, and services get nothing from me. No subscriptions, no reads, nothing.

      Good editorial Johna, you’ve earned a place in my favorites.

    32. Johnny Says:

      It’s tough to know exactly what happened at GameSpot, but I don’t see it as an impossibility that he was fired for writing that review. Perhaps we should just wait and see what Gerstmann has to say for himself. Has he said anything about his firing yet? It’s all rumor and assumption until then.

      Oh, regarding “Deep Throat”: Mark Felt is not dead, but he is quite old. Please check your facts.

    33. Randolph Says:

      LOL, Dan just sank Jonah’s battleship. Nice try at damage control, but still a failure.

    34. Brad K. in Indy Says:

      Since no one has responded to “Shoe” yet, I’ll take a stab at it.

      Point #2 – Let’s face it Shoe, when you give your “active feedback” on games in progress, what you are in effect doing is injecting your opinion as to what you are seeing at a point in time. Knowing this, who does it serve when you put in bold letters that a game this early in development is “TERRIBLE”? You are missing the point of a show like E3 entirely. The game companies are not there to put their beta projects under the microscope. They are there to get their games press. Period. The best a reader can hope for from an E3 review is to learn what the game is about, what genre it is in, and maybe they are lucky, get some early screen shots. To say something this early in it’s life cycle is terrible is in fact poor journalism as the author of this article calls it.

      What EGM did to Too Human was a disservice to the games industry and the developer had every right to be upset about it. I tell you what Shoe, I would like for you to begin putting early versions of your magazine up on the web for people to provide “active feedback” on before you are ready to actually release it. You would never do that, and the developers aren’t doing that either.

      EGM was not the sole reason for E3 being cancelled obviously, but you have to think it was a contributing factor.

      Point #3 – Calling Seanbaby a humor columnist makes the things he says ok? Why don’t we ask Don Imus about that? Seanbaby does nothing but bring your magazine and podcast down to a “lowest common denominator” for anyone with a brain in their heads. Comedy is subjective, that I understand. It wouldn’t surprise me if Seanbaby was one of the people caught blathering to xxxgayboyxxx on his youtube video. In fact, I would expect that kind of drivel from Seanbaby and nothing of a higher caliber.

      I’ll just leave you with this final thought on this subject, when is it ever ok or “comedy” to continually inject racists or homophobic comments into practically everything you say or do?

      Point #4 – You assume that the author has an agenda against EGM because he stated his opinion? Gosh, well then I guess I can assume EGM had an agenda against Too Human then too since you provided your opinion. At least the author didn’t try to pass his opinion off as anything other than an opinion.

      Again Shoe, do you listen to or read your own media? Shane, for the longest time, was nothing more than a Sony fanboy. Once the forums got tired of his fanboyism, Shane then resorted to just disagreeing with everything every says, going against his own thoughts and written pieces for the sake of the argument. You yourself on previous podcasts have taken Shane to task for this very thing.

      Point #5 – Are you really saying that we are to believe that there have not been backroom deals cut between EGM and publishers in order to give EGM an exclusive? Come on Shoe, not all of us are naive. In an industry where getting the exclusvie is the name of the game, are you really going to sit on your high throne and have us think you don’t play the game?

      Point #6 – 21 years is the average age of your readers. I won’t dispute that average, but again have you read your magazine lately? I would think that 21 was the average age of people writing the articles as well. As the author points out, excessive cussing and bashing does not make you an adult. The way your editorial team and the 1UP team handles journalism leads to things like the xxxgayboyxxx bashing, because again people like Seanbaby are viewed as cool and hip and funny.

      People are mad at the Gertsmann situation because Jeff had integrity and was very well liked. I have noticed recently that people are leaving the 1UP crew like rats off a sinking ship and while there has been no controversy, there also hasn’t been a single departure that caused this kind of outcry from the gaming community.

      In closing I also have to let you know that EGM is one of the only magazines that you can Google “Free Subscriptions” for and pretty much every month, you can add another years subscription free of charge. I don’t find it very hard to understand why you are having to give your magazine away.

      It think it is high time your magazine and podcasts grew up. If you don’t, the entire industry is destined to be held back as well and we will never see the same levels of succes, not dollars but true success, as other media outlets have.

      I do appreciate your commenting though Shoe. It does show that you are aware of what the community is thinking and the you are not afraid to put yourself out there.

    35. Derrick Schommer Says:

      Balaamsdonkey: ” Game integrity? How ’bout you put your name up on your article so some of us can do a check and see if maybe you have some reasons to hate the industry so much.”

      I’m not sure if you noticed, he does put his name up on the article as do I for my articles.

      You wanna do a background check, be my guest. You’ll find our names in a lot of areas, have fun :)

      Personally, I find that the entire story opens our eyes to this whole conflict of interest. So… big companies invest money in advertising and otherwise into a review site that also reviews THEIR games?

      I have a hard time seeing the difference between that and having a journalist invested in Apple giving an iPod rave reviews. Part of the ‘ethics’ are not to invest in companies you report on, but yet we can write reviews for companies helping to pay our salary?

      Sure, why wouldn’t you give a glorious review to a game when you know they’re putting money in your pocket and YOU are responsible for driving some of the sales of that game. That, to me, sounds like a conflict of interest barring any editor being fired.

      For the record, Jeff was great on Hot Spot, a fun podcast I listen to weekly and much of the news I report on in my own podcast comes from them. The only “bias” I may have for Jeff is that he’s a New Hampshire boy like myself :)

    36. On the Gerstmanngate at Binary Bonsai Says:

      [...] The other problem is that writers are reporting rumors as fact, and visibly biased. It is “clear” that Gerstmann was fired due to a low review score given to a game with major advertising on the site. Why? According to most of these websites, correlation is causality. No other facts are needed, such as the fact that Gerstmann was fired two weeks later when the last of the major game releases had been released and reviewed – an obvious time to release an editor. The reason for Gerstmann’s firing has not been disclosed, with Gerstmann claiming he is legally unable to reveal why, and CNet only stating that it was not due to the review. This doesn’t stop a major site like GameSpot being harmed by the reputation, and worse, the backlash suffered by Eidos and the Kane & Lynch developers, who are perceived as complicitous, as well as backlash to the game itself, which suddenly receives additional, undeserved negative feedback. # [...]

    37. Al Says:

      Brian K. states:

      “Let’s face it Shoe, when you give your ‘active feedback’ on games in progress, what you are in effect doing is injecting your opinion as to what you are seeing at a point in time.”

      As a reader of EGM, I can tell you that one of the reasons I subscribe is so I can get opinionated previews of games, rather than just a rehash of their marketing material.

      The real “disservice” that video game journalists can do is simply take whatever PR they’re given and report back to the readers. You state that E3 exists to give the games press–well, EGM exists to give readers their opinions. As long as the proper caveats are provided (and they always are, in the case of EGM) there’s no sense is not reporting what it was like to play the games they were shown. As a reader, *that’s what I want to know*.

      What you are advocating (in effect) is that EGM should be more friendly to publishers and developers and participate more in their marketing efforts. This, I would assume, is not your intent, but it would be the ultimate result.

    38. Jonah Falcon Says:

      Corrected the error, Shoe. One thing I do NOT have here is a copy editor – just a spell checker.

      And I was not trying to single out EGM – just give a recent example of past instances that annoyed me.

      For disclosure, I’ve enjoy the podcasts of OXM and Achievement Junkie (before Nelson Rodriguez left for Gamerscore Blog and they started farming out sections to other podcasts. I liked the show with its full banter between the two.)

      I also listen to the EGM podcast. For one, during the podcast, the other writers CALL OUT SHANE FOR HIS SONY “FANBOYISM”. If your OWN WRITERS are teasing him about it, then how am I offbase in mentioning it. If your writers constantly call Shane, and I quote, “a Sony apologist”, why can’t I?

      Oh, and “3. Seanbaby is a humor columnist.” That’s specious comment at best. Rationalization at worst. What does that have to do with anything? Reiley is quick-witted, but trust me, the sort of 10 year old commentary coming from an adult man is … let’s just say it’s the sort of thing we hear on Halo 3 multiplayer lobbies, except influential and in print (ie. his webpage, your podcast.)

    39. John K in Austin, TX Says:

      I can tell you come from a stereotypical, male-privileged backgroud with a narrow view of things.

      How?

      You blame the victims.

      You might as well have said, “she was asking for it.”

      As for Brad K in Indy responding to Shoe, your anti-EGM bias is clear and makes your points a little less valid.

      Mind you, you make some good ones but some are illogical and just plain antagonistic:

      1. Don’t tell me that when you see an early build of a game you don’t automatically judge the game in its CURRENT STATE. EGM was doing just that. And I thank them. And the devs should thank them. “Oh EGM though the early build of the game was terrible. Well I better put it into high gear and fix the problems now so that a better product can come about.” Its the industry accountable for the crap they put out that does MORE DAMAGE to the industry at whole.

      2. The author does have an agenda against EGM because he focuses on them for almost all the ills of the industry. I can already think of plenty of people who are guilty of doing things that hurt the community.

      3. Shane has obvious biases. But if you even cared to read any thing from EGM, then you would know he is an excellent writer that is actually much more level headed than his podcast persona. But I guess you wouldn’t know that.

      4. Oh then adding the comment about the “free subscriptions” jab was pretty low. Pretty immature and infantile in my opinion. Oh then to “appreciate” Shoe’s efforts to stay aware of the community was a nice touch. Hypocritical, but a nice kiss-ass touch to an otherwise overly-critical, biased look on EGM and its affiliates.

      John K.

    40. Jonah Falcon Says:

      “As a reader of EGM, I can tell you that one of the reasons I subscribe is so I can get opinionated previews of games, rather than just a rehash of their marketing material.”

      I’ve written previews without using promotional material. The FIRST AND BIGGEST RULE is this:

      Neutral language.

      It’s perfectly possible to state what the game is about, what it does, how it plays, and what it should be like without parroting press material.

      But judging a preview build? Based on WHAT? Did you see Halo in 1999?

    41. Al Says:

      Jonah Falcon states:

      “I’ve written previews without using promotional material. The FIRST AND BIGGEST RULE is this:

      Neutral language.”

      I don’t think you get my point. Reporting everything about the game *except* your actual opinion of the current gameplay is just being a mouth for the game company in question. You’re just providing some free press for them.

      Also, with regard to giving readers that most basic description of the game, do you think that’s something that I, as a reader, actually value? I don’t subscribe to Wikipedia, I subscribe to EGM.

      You’ve also glossed over the positives. Consider Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a recent game whose combat system was significantly improved due to the opinionated feedback of video game journalists, including EGM. Reporting on the problems present in E3 builds puts pressure on the developers to *fix the problems*.

    42. Craig Rubens Says:

      It is interesting to observe the digital manifestation of Pulitzer-style yellow journalism in the 21st century. The likes of Digg, which is how I found this trite piece, rely upon the basest of crowd-sourcing motivations.

      I like that you focus the story on the “brouhaha” that has been the fallout of this story but I think the issue raised here, while often spotlighted in gaming journalism, is emblematic of the echo-chamber that is the blogosphere. This post itself fails readers in many of the same ways that the reporting on Gerstmann’s firing has. It makes gross generalizations (claiming the video-game industry “out-grossed” Hollywood is a misrepresentation of the facts), it entirely lacks citation, and is full of careless errors (see below).

      Still, Mr. Falcon, I like that you zoomed out and examine what has become of criticism as a whole. You’re absolutely right that there are few quality outlets for objective third parties to give measured critical reviews that aren’t rushed to the internet full of un-edited hysterics.

      I view these as the growing pains of digital journalism. I hope that myself, Mr. Falcon, and the ‘sphere as a whole can be more self-aware and I’m sure the industry as a whole will move forward. Thank you for your time.

      Craig.

      P.S. Editorial nitpicking: You misuse both “de rigueur” and “Occam’s Razor.” Give both terms a quick Wikipedia-ing (not that it’s a journalistic resource) and don’t overreach.

    43. MitchyD Says:

      Jonah, if we had neutral language we’d all be reading the back of a box. It’s not the reason people read reviews. You can’t even begin to speak about neutral language when your posts consist entirely of opinion. The constant Sony bashing, Microsoft phallacio and your reviews especially, they’re all smothered with your opinion. ;)

    44. MitchyD Says:

      Also, regarding the “review” of early builds, I can say with a huge amount of confidence that you probably didn’t read the feature at all.

      The section was the furthest thing from a “review” – they even commented on it a bunch in the EGM cover story that the game was still, though 10 years later, in a very early state. Why would EGMers get fired over the Dyack fiasco as well? They judged it as they saw it, giving readers an opinion that “This build is “TERRIBLE”". If you’re referring to the podcast, well, then I don’t think you understand the concept of an internet broadcast or that you even listened to it.

    45. Dan "Shoe" Hsu Says:

      Just a couple of quick responses to a couple of specific things (for everything else, I’ve said all I think I needed to say on those subjects):

      “Point #5 – Are you really saying that we are to believe that there have not been backroom deals cut between EGM and publishers in order to give EGM an exclusive? Come on Shoe, not all of us are naive. In an industry where getting the exclusvie is the name of the game, are you really going to sit on your high throne and have us think you don’t play the game?”

      Me: I swear by this, that there are no advertiser or marketing-driven deals at EGM or the 1UP Network as a whole. I know this is just a “my word” situation since we’re not in a court of law for you to put my hand on the Bible or anything, but that’s 100% the truth. We don’t negotiate scores for exclusive reviews. We don’t negotiate any coverage (cover stories or otherwise) for advertising or promotional consideration. But I guess I’d never be able to convince someone who’s convinced of this unless I hired him and had him see for himself. :)

      “I also listen to the EGM podcast. For one, during the podcast, the other writers CALL OUT SHANE FOR HIS SONY “FANBOYISM”. If your OWN WRITERS are teasing him about it, then how am I offbase in mentioning it. If your writers constantly call Shane, and I quote, “a Sony apologist”, why can’t I?”

      Me: True, good point. I guess John K said it best for me: We do tease him about it because of a couple of comments he’s made, but we trust what he does, say, and write. I wouldn’t have him on staff if I thought otherwise. He’s perfectly level headed, and has proven many times he doesn’t have any particular agenda toward or against any companies. Just one recent example: He’s been on the 1UP Yours podcast telling people multiple times how much better Mario Galaxy (Nintendo) is over Ratchet & Clank Future (Sony), that the two don’t even compare.

      Thanks for letting me comment.

    46. Jonah Falcon Says:

      “Editorial nitpicking: You misuse both “de rigueur” and “Occam’s Razor.” Give both terms a quick Wikipedia-ing (not that it’s a journalistic resource) and don’t overreach.

      I know what both terms mean. “De rigueur” means what has come to pass as the standard, or as Wikipedia quotes: “necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion”

      Occam’s Razor means the simplest, most logical reason is usually the correct one. Honestly, I’d believe it was Gerstmann made too much money for his position and not that he was fired for a review 2 weeks later. (The review might be a factor, but two weeks later? Why pull it NOW?) Tsu can probably tell you the struggles that magazines and game websites are having lately – Computer Games Magazine, in my opinion the best industry magazine in the history of electronic gaming, shuttered its doors months ago.

      However, if anyone can give me one good reason to attack Gamespot itself, I’d like to hear it. Gamespot is a top quality site that seldom violates any sort of journalistic integrity. Attacking GameSpot, one of the toughest review sites, is ridiculous. If it had become endemic, then I’d be concerned. But over ONE REVIEW? Please.

      I’m sure Gerstmann is a nice guy, but going into Moral Outrage Mode over his firing? I doubt he’ll have trouble finding work, and firings happen all the time in literary professions. I don’t hear outcries over Judith Regan… erm, okay, bad example. But you get my point.

      And while The New York Daily News and The New York Post, bitter rivals here in New York, may subtlely attack each other in their pages, one would never parade up and down in front of the other’s office building in protest, mock or otherwise.

      And those two papers are considered tabloids at best, rags at worst.

      ADDENDUM: “Thanks for letting me comment.”

      Why wouldn’t we? This is a forum of open discourse. So long as you don’t write, “Gam3st00g3 iz teh sUxXorZ!” and use Counter-Strike language…

    47. Scott Ellis Says:

      Jonah,

      Your response to Hsu fails to adequately address his main point, which is that you put forth statements that are either misleading or unsupported while preaching from a supposed position of journalistic integrity.

      I agree with your intentions, but I get the impression that you’re misrepresenting the coverage of Gerstmann’s firing as worse than it really is so that you can more easily make your case about the need for improved standards in gaming journalism. From your article:

      “The other problem is that writers are reporting rumors as fact, and visibly biased. It is “clear” that Gerstmann was fired due to a low review score given to a game with major advertising on the site.”

      Which writers? Can you cite specific examples of this? Did you put “clear” in quotes to be ironic, or is this excerpted from a specific site’s coverage?

      I actually think the reporting on this whole affair has been surprisingly responsible. Although you rail about how the rush to break news is leading to uninformed articles, it should be noted that IGN and 1up have refrained from posting stories about Gerstmann’s firing. 1up editors claim on forum posts that this is because they are waiting for more reliable information.

      Not to mention that the coverage on Kotaku and Joystiq has been explicit in stating that it is based on a rumor and that no official connection has been verified between Gerstmann’s firing and his Kane & Lynch review.

      Joystiq: “So before we get going, we should make it clear that this post is still just a rumor and many of the facts behind it are still up in the air.”

      http://www.joystiq.com/2007/11/30/rumor-gamespots-editorial-director-fired-over-kane-and-lynch-rev/

      Kotaku: “We’ve heard an unsettling rumor today from an anonymous tipster that longtime game reviewer Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot has been let go. That wouldn’t necessarily be newsworthy, but the conditions under which he was allegedly dismissed were.”

      http://kotaku.com/gaming/rumor/gamespot-editor-fired-over-kane–lynch-review-328244.php

      I don’t see any examples here, on probably the two biggest sources of coverage of this story, of the “reporting rumors as fact” phenomenon that you’re claiming. You go on to state:

      “Gerstmann’s friends and collegues[sic] have taken this opportunity to drive a mob-like lynching of GameSpot, convincing many gamers to cancel subscriptions to the site, claiming it is a corporate shill; this despite the fact that nothing is known about the firing save Gerstmann and CNet.”

      This is a pretty bold statement, yet we have no idea from your article which friends and colleagues you’re referring to or what they did to “drive a mob-like lynching of Gamespot” since your statement is unsupported. By friends and colleagues, do you mean Jeff’s fellow employees at Gamespot? Because they’ve been unable to speak out about the circumstances Jeff’s firing. From Gamespot employee Aaron Thomas:

      http://www.gamespot.com/users/AaronThomas/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25234883

      And finally, you insinuate that Jeff’s firing could have been for reasons unrelated to the Kane and Lynch review in order to emphasize the point that no official confirmation of a connection between the two has been verified. This is a valid point, but you support your insinuations by saying:

      “The reason for Gerstmann’s firing has not been disclosed, with Gerstmann claiming he is legally unable to reveal why, and CNet only stating that it was not due to the review.”

      Again, where have CNet they said this? No quote or link is provided. CNET has said that “we do not terminate employees based on external pressure from advertisers,” (which still allows for the possibility of internal pressure) but where have they specifically mentioned the Kane & Lynch review in relation to Jeff’s firing?

      http://www.joystiq.com/2007/11/30/gamespot-denies-eidos-pressured-firing-of-gertsmann/

      It may appear I’m splitting hairs here, but this fits into an overall pattern of how information in this article appears to have been misrepresented to better serve its argument. It’s particularly aggravating because it’s done while preaching to others about how they need to improve their journalistic standards.

    48. Occam's Razor Says:

      I don’t like that you used me incorrectly in this article. I’d like to direct you to:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor
      Basically, “the theory that introduces the least number of assumptions is normally correct” or “all other things being equal, the simplest solution is best.”

      If you actually understand what this means, your statement that
      “It could be that Gerstmann was fired for the low review – but Occam’s Razor would state that in order for Gerstmann to be fired, he’d have to have done a lot more than that” is incorrect. By far the simplest reason is that the low review was the reason for the firing.

      “He’d have to do a lot more than that” combined with your list of other reasons is definitely a more complex answer that introduces many more assumptions. One would have to assume a lot of extraneous, unconfirmed information to get another answer. This would make your answer more complicated and thus would fail to be the best answer under Occam’s Razor.

      Before you use me in any more of your articles, please take the time to understand how to apply me. I would appreciate it if you keep me out of your reviews.

      Thanks,
      Occam’s Razor

    49. Jeff Gerstmann fired - Zelda Universe Forums Says:

      [...] GameSpot:Video Games PC Xbox 360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2 PlayStation 2 GameCube GBA PlayStation 3 EDITORIAL: RIP, Journalistic Integrity | Game Stooge Ziff Davis staff holds impromptu GameSpot rally – Joystiq [...]

    50. Jonah Falcon Says:

      I love those disclaimers that say they’re not going to do something then do it – with GUSTO!

      And the fact is, just because journalistic standards have lowered doesn’t mean that it’s okay.

      You can attempt to nitpick to your heart’s content. You can say Joystiq prefaced its rumor mongering with “They’re just rumors” – they fanned the flames.

      And the fact is this: Joystiq just reported every single rumor that came down the pike in a rush to be “the first”, which again, is emblematic of the problems of news today, with CNN, Fox News, etc.

      Used to be most rumors never even reached the pages of a newspaper. Journalists knew how to discard various rumors simply because they’d INVESTIGATE. Joystiq and others DON’T DO INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION.

      I can’t stress this enough:

      THEY DON’T DO THEIR OWN REPORTING.

      What they do is search for every tidbit and comment on it. While I can’t say GameStooge doesn’t news hunt, it’s one thing to examine a press release or a news item and make some speculation – it’s quite another to dig up every unfounded rumor and comment on it. It’s simply not good journalism.

      But, once again, it’s the rush to being the breaking news that leads to this:

      http://www.homesteadschool.com/what_we_do/events_2001/berkshires/gossipcomplete.jpg

      I’m sure some of you are familiar with Norman Rockwell.

      I think this is getting off on a tangeant. This is not about Joystiq or EGM; if anything I hold them to a higher standard because they are major institutions – one on the web side, the other on the print side (sorta, if I ignore 1UP.) This has to do with the state of what constitutes journalism in the video game industry, and as bad as major news networks have become, video game journalism is what I stated in the article: an oxymoron.

      I’m waiting for the first site to say: “Screw this. We don’t need to be the first – we need to be the most thorough and trustworthy.” Sort of like 60 Minutes, which is forced by its weekly nature to sit on a story and dissect it to death.

    51. Michael Says:

      I don’t disagree with the major points in your article, but I found it very interesting that in an article about journalistic integrity, you chose to cite Metacritic to back up one of your assertions. After spending five of the first seven paragraphs explaining how the video game journalism industry is infantile and lacking journalistic integrity (which again, I don’t disagree with), you then appeal to a Web site which gathers the products of this industry and places them side by side on a single page.

      Even if that were not the case, you state that it “should be noted” that the Metacritic score for Kanye & Lynch is higher than the GameSpot score for the game, but you never provide a good reason why it should be noted. Metacritic is not a completely comprehensive view of the industry, and as you later pointed out, GameSpot is notorious for their “stingy” reviews when compared to their competitors.

      I just don’t see how Metacritic can justify your claim that the game is getting undeserved negative feedback. I’m not saying that it’s an incorrect claim, but it doesn’t deal with, for example, the possibility that the industry as a whole is giving it undeserved positive feedback, and the Metacritic page is thus overly kind to the game.

      Metacritic is also owned by CNet, and while I agree with you that much of the reporting on this matter has been based on rumor alone, if you want to maintain a neutral viewpoint, as I believe is warranted given the lack of real facts about the matter, it would be best to steer away from citing any site owned by GameSpot’s parent company. I’m not accusing Metacritic of artificially inflating the game’s score, but if the rumors surrounding Gerstmann’s review are true (and again, I’m not saying that they are or that they are not), then it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the scores on Metacritic have been tampered with.

    52. Jonah Falcon Says:

      “Even if that were not the case, you state that it “should be noted” that the Metacritic score for Kanye & Lynch is higher than the GameSpot score for the game, but you never provide a good reason why it should be noted.”

      For perspective. It was a somewhat low score, but not a shockingly low one. As I said, Gerstmann didn’t write a review that was out of the realm of the rest of the industry. He didn’t award it a 2.0, for instance.

      And Metacritic is useful in gauging the opinion of the rest of the industry. Saying it’s owned by CNet is completely coincidental and irrelevent. The site doesn’t editorialize or exclude reviews – it just reports numbers. I prefer Metacritic to GameRankings and Rotten Tomatoes.

      Anyway, I enjoyed contributing to the discussion of the article, but I’m not going to be replying much – I have two major reviews to write, and I don’t want to be distracted from them. If there’s anything you want to directly address to me regarding the article technically, you can contact me at JonahFalcon1970@aol.com.

    53. pixelame.net Says:

      El fin de la integridad periodística…

      El reciente caso del despido de Jeff Gerstmann por parte de GameSpot está siendo analizado desde diversos puntos de vista en la red. En este artículo se analiza la presión que ejerce la industria sobre el gremio….

    54. videolamer.com» Blog Archive » RIP Blogs (I wish) Says:

      [...] you want to see the best example of the damage blogs can do, take a look at this post by a certain Jonah Falcon. Jonah bemoans all the above mentioned things, and wishes that more websites would either do some [...]

    55. Dan Says:

      Who pays your bonus?

      [Unfortunately, no one. I don't get paid for this site. (sigh) - Jonah Falcon]

    56. C. Says:

      Can I propose a complete prohibition on accusations of “bias”? That has got to be the most overused non-expletive expression among blog commenters and forum posters of all time. It’s always used to make an opinion unfalsifiable, too. “If you disagree with my unsupported claim, you are obviously biased and must be ignored.”

    57. It’s good to be independent “2″ « The Xbox Domain Says:

      [...] Gamestooge  [...]

    58. James Says:

      Overall an interesting article,

      Alot has been said without a massive amount of actual evidence to back it up.

      But simply horrible use of occam’s razor. Both wrong and unnecessary. Mixing philosopy and articles about gaming journalism is never a good idea.

      [Occam's Razor - which is more likely - Gerstmann is fired over one review two weeks later, or Gerstmann was making too much money and they wanted a cheaper editor? It was used just fine, thanks. - Jonah Falcon]

    59. zaghadka Says:

      One thing I’d like to point out is that “old fashioned” objective journalism is currently being manipulated by PR techniques pioneered in the 80′s.

      What happens, when you use the ideal of “neutral wording,” and then quote and report on what some figure has said, which is, in fact, a prepared, highly loaded, public relations statement, is you wind up making a prepared, highly loaded, public relations statement in your own voice. You just become a mouthpiece.

      No responsible journalist can stand by and not provide context in the face of such manipulation.

      All the major game publishers, and many of the smaller ones, have PR staff that know how to pull off this kind of manipulation. It’s taught in every University at this point, in euphemistic terms such as “conveying your message.”

      The style of reporting that you yearn for is no longer relevant. I’ve seen senior reporters and editors across the country be made into dupes. See Bill Moyers “Buying the War” for instance, to see how Chalabi apparently manipulated skilled reporters into believing they had source corroboration. The whole industry, of which the games journalism industry is a tiny and relatively inconsequential facet, is reeling from such techniques.

      The bottom line is, the less-than-ethical have figured out how to get outright lies printed, about far more important things than games, and the press hasn’t yet come up with a good procedure to deal with it.

      You might as well ask such dishonest people what happened to journalistic integrity. Armchair quarterbacking won’t help.

      (P.S.: I read through your comments, and you did not address the lack of primary sources and overall evidence in your article. You are attacking people with what appears to be largely anecdotal evidence, contradicted by first hand accounts in the comments, if everyone is who they say they are. Shoot me an email, I’d like to keep in touch.)

    60. David Says:

      All I have to say on the matter is that the Kane and Lynch video review has still not made it back onto Gamestop. If there’s no connection, I don’t see why it would not be there.

    61. EDITORIAL: Gamer Immaturity | Game Stooge Says:

      [...] when my article about the Gerstmann/GameSpot fiasco? I stated this in the editorial: It does not help that, judging by postings and written reactions, [...]

    62. Jonah Falcon Says:

      “All I have to say on the matter is that the Kane and Lynch video review has still not made it back onto Gamestop.”

      Actually, it has.

      “What happens, when you use the ideal of “neutral wording,” and then quote and report on what some figure has said, which is, in fact, a prepared, highly loaded, public relations statement, is you wind up making a prepared, highly loaded, public relations statement in your own voice. You just become a mouthpiece.”

      I don’t see how that applies to previews in which the writer goes to see the build – it doesn’t even have to be a hands-on playable build. As for press releases, the words, “Blank claims that” is perfectly accurate. In addition, you can speculate on what the game is trying to be and comment on that. But saying something like “IT SUCKS!” or “IT ROCKS!” is unhelpful.

    63. John Smith Says:

      Journalism is a crock of !@#! in America. A few minutes of Fox news makes any person ready to punch someone in the face. Video game sites are tools for advertisers… yup… thats why we need to stick it to them, block their ip’s, and rely on BLOGS.

      To hell with any for-profit media.

    64. Filipe Says:

      Yes, it’s a rumour. Journalists can’t just ignore rumours, though. This one, incidentally, is completely fueled by Gamespot’s and Eidos’ attitudes towards the incident. Because for them, being honest is just not enough: they must keep an appearance of honesty as well.

      Both companies failed terribly at doing so. “No comments”, as even babies know, sounds a lot like “I’m involved”. Since that approach inevitably failed, Gamespot now admits everything, yet denies a link between Eidos’ pressure, the video review being taken off line and Gerstmann’s firing. Gamespot’s employees are either leaving or expressing their unhappiness through Gamespot’s own blogs. That is not “rumour”, but information.

      Evidently, the review was not the sole reason for his firing, but it is very clear that:

      1: The man in charge of firing people at Gamespot knows nothing about games or gamers, and very little about marketing, his alleged area. Check his published articles to see what I mean.

      2: Gerstmann openly told people not to buy the game, at least not at its full price.

      3: Kane and Lynch’s ads were all over Gamespot, and Eidos pressured Gamespot over the negative review.

      4: Two weeks later, after all major games had been reviewed, and, thus, a staff mutiny could be handled, Gerstmann was fired. His video review was removed from the site, and his written review was blatantly altered.

      5: Gamespot, at first, claimed to have altered the review because of the multiplayer mode. Now, they admit they changed it not just because of that, but to “fit” the 6.0 rating. This means Gamespot is openly admitting to having omitted information regarding the review’s change. Mind you, Gamespot’s business was, until this point, credibility.

      Ignoring a potential relation between these known facts is definitely not journalism. These facts alone should have been enough for Gamespot to try and be absolutely clear about the termination. Admitting things they repeatedly denied after a week doesn’t make them look honest at all. The fact that these damage control “articles” are unsigned should also be very revealing.

    65. Erik Reppen Says:

      I’m curious to hear what these creepy techniques of the PR people are. Is it like the Bene Gesserit from Dune or something?

      If journalistic integrity was dead in games journalism, why are we talking about the ethics of preview writing when you see mainstream publications barely and sometimes not even rewording PR content all over the place?

      Anyway, in my four year tenure at GI, we never allowed ad sales to influence our reviews either and that was well before the junket issue had everybody realizing that we were actually accountable as journalists, not just fans who also happened to be writers.

      I think the reason this whole thing exploded is as much because of post-junket perception of the gaming critical media by the mainstream press and the readers as well as a post-Bush distrust of journalism in general. That and to paraphrase GS’ editorial, Gamespot’s management couldn’t have invented new ways to make themselves look any more guilty of what Valleywag’s anonymous source was saying.

    66. Bruce Gorton Says:

      You guys do realise that reviews aren’t meant to be objective, but rather the reviewer’s opinion on a given game, movie, book, restuarant or play right?

      Further, Gamespot changed the review in a manner which made it milder if nothing else.

      The edit, coupled with taking down the video, coupled with the video edit, coupled with the experience and respected nature of the guy who got sacked, all points towards the conclusions made by the anonymous poster.

      Also it doesn’t take studying business to understand business. All it takes is a modicum of common sense.

      Speak to the most juniour person, they generally know enough to give you a hint as to where you should look and know too little to realise that they shouldn’t be telling you this stuff, then go check it out.

      If the story is about where stocks are going, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to go check out the stock prices over the last few months and it doesn’t take a genius to read a sales report.

    67. Jonah Falcon Says:

      Did they change the SCORE of the review? Yes or no?

    68. Idetrorce Says:

      very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

    69. Lin Says:

      This article is an example of an editor writing about something he knows nothing about, and claiming that others are on the same level of knowledge as he is… i.e., that rumors are reported as fact. Journalists are one thing, Internet forum denizens are another. Get it right. BTW, a journalist at 1UP reported the TRUTH behind the story, so I suggest Jonah check that out for himself.

    70. EDITORIAL: Learning From the Jeff Gerstmann Affair | Game Stooge Says:

      [...] Jonah Falcon so accurately pointed out in December, everything that has been said about Gerstmann’s sacking is wild speculation at best. The success [...]

    71. GameSpot/Gerstmann issue reveals the lack of journalistic integrity « Chuckjumper4’s Weblog Says:

      [...] read more | digg story « Feel the Bullets While Playing Shooter Games [...]

    72. developer blog #17 | All Aspect Warfare Says:

      [...] problem ranges from outright scandals like the GameSpot/Gerstmann fiasco to the Adventurine/Eurogamer Darkfall review outcry by the developers and gamers alike. That [...]

    73. dre in the morning » Blog Archive » Roger Ebert Kicks Ass and Michael Cera is Awkward! Says:

      [...] RIP, Journalistic Integrity The entire Jeff Gerstmann fiasco is a shining example of how infantile and unprofessional the industry really is, and why video games will be considered infantile, despite out-grossing the Hollywood movie industry these days. You don’t get respect if you behave like infants. (gamestooge) [...]

    74. developer blog #17 | Says:

      [...] problem ranges from outright scandals like the GameSpot/Gerstmann fiasco to the Adventurine/EurogamerDarkfall review outcry by the developers and gamers alike. That [...]

    75. Links 12/02/07 « Simply Robert Says:

      [...] Game Stooge: RIP, Journalistic Integrity – This editorial offers some balanced insight into some of the larger issues at work here. From the article: [...]

    76. Games industry vs journalism part two? | Richard Hartley Says:

      [...] press was far from clear-cut – no-one outside of GameSpot really knows why Gerstmann was fired (as this highly critical commentary on games journalism's response to the controversy points out). Now Dan [...]

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