We’re only a few days in 2015 and there’s already been so much upheaval. So many changes. Jim Sterling decided to leave the The Escapist and go independent. Shane Satterfield, Marcus Beer, and others are kicking off Siftd.com. Patrick Klepek left Giant Bomb for a position at Kotaku, collecting two of the industry’s best investigative journalists in one area.
Today saw the announcement that Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino, and Tim Gettys quit IGN to focus on Kinda Funny Videos full-time. Max Scoville in turn joined IGN as their new video guy. Russ Pitts also revealed his new production company, Flying Saucer Media, putting him in the same area as former Rev3 producer Adam Sessler.
These are all good people doing good work. The ones I’ve met in person have been nice folks. I like the things they’ve done before. I’m glad they have the chance to pursue creative work they love and still get paid for it.
It feels a bit like musical chairs.
So, let’s talk journalism and objectivity. In relation to all the stuff happening around #GamerGate, there’s been an ongoing focus on objectivity in relation to reviews, previews, and general news within our industry. There have been calls to return to objective journalism all around, to which some journalists have simply stated that pure objectivity doesn’t exist.
Objectivity and subjectivity exist on two completely different sides: one is concerned with “just the facts” while the other illuminates a specific point of view. There have long been discussions in journalism – beyond straight news reports, polls, and scores – as to the true nature of objectivity. Most of these arguments came to a head in the 60s and 70s, with the rise of journalists like Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, and Joan Didion. You’ve probably heard of them before. Wolfe called for something called new journalism, while Thompson took it one step further with gonzo journalism.
“So much for Objective Journalism,” wrote Thompson in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72. “Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
In mid-October, the Games Media Awards event happened in the UK. During the event, certain journalists tweeted a game-related hashtag in order to win a PlayStation 3. Looked bad. This was brought up on Twitter, some journalists defended those actions as no big thing, things got worse. (It continued on from there, but that’s immaterial to this discussion)
This controversy stemmed from a lack of trust. Trust is a hard thing to cultivate, but it’s easy to lose. Even the perception of wrong-doing can lead to a loss in trust, meaning perception is everything. So, everything you do matters.