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#1 Edited by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

So a quick recap:

Recently the GMAs (Games Media Awards) were hosted for UK games journalists. For those unfamiliar with the GMAs, they're an awards ceremony designed to recognise the best writing from UK journos. They're voted for by PR, and sponsored by publishers. That right there is a problem. This year however, they went one further. They encouraged journos at an event to tweet a hashtag for a game, with the chance of winning a PS3. More no-nos.

John Walker's piece on this here does a brilliant job of explaining the implications of defending that choice (and oh boy did the journos who did that defend it).

So then Rob Florence (Scottish writer) does a brilliant piece in Eurogamer on the wider relationship between PR and journalists. He proceeds to quote public tweets from several journos and discuss why they might lead to questions of credibility. The original article is here, and the amended article here.

Lauren Wainwright (one of the quoted) has now threatened legal action, and Eurogamer have removed the 'offending' section. Rab stepped down.

Today I am completely ashamed of the widespread incredulous response amongst UK writers that Rab would write such things. Lauren Wainwright and every journalist who supported her have cast actual doubt on their credibility just by threatening to sue over an opinion piece that correctly quoted her public Twitter account. Thankfully enough UK writers have come out in support of Rab, damning both the GMAs and the response to the Eurogamer article, that I haven't entirely lost faith.

I didn't see any other threads about this so I thought I'd ask if anyone else has been following along, and what your take on it is.

Edit: John Walker just posted a follow up here. A good summary of everything.

#2 Posted by Levius (1084 posts) -

Yeah, that's really shitty, but the UK privacy and libel laws are so fucked up that it doesn't surprise me.

The oddest thing is that that why are they competing for a PS3, surely all games journalists own one, and even if they don't is credibility really as cheap as a PS3. This is why I hardly read European outlets.

#3 Posted by intoblivion (314 posts) -

I wonder if this sort of thing happens in other "luxury" media industries, the Auto industry for example, or do the car companies hold so much power of journalists that they don't need to give out freebies?

#4 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

UK libel laws are indeed fucked up.

The thing is, I would argue that the UK has some of, if not the, best writers currently working. A lot of people came out and publicly called out the GMAs and Waingwright, it's just that a few gave the entirety a bad name.

#5 Edited by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -
#6 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

@CptBedlam: Sort of proves a point doesn't it. I really hope Rab lands on his feet. Would be shitty to see him suffer because of his integrity.

It's sad, and a reminder that the majority of people who do the job do it not because they feel they have so much to say and write about games, but because they want to play games. The writing, the work, is an afterthought. They're fans who don't understand the ethics people are shouting at them for in the first place.

#7 Posted by AlexW00d (6191 posts) -

@CptBedlam: Wait this Lauren person writes for the fucking Sun? Dear fucking me.

#8 Posted by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -
#9 Posted by Ramone (2960 posts) -

Well at least Grainger Games didn't turn up again.

#10 Posted by Sieghardt (5 posts) -

Utterly terrible, someone deserved to lose their job over this, it certainly shouldnt have been Rab.

#11 Posted by SpacePenguin (476 posts) -

That Rob Florence article was great.

#12 Posted by Fattony12000 (7093 posts) -

What wrenches my nipples the most is reading this mistake, in the very first sentence of a nationally published 'newspaper'. As penned by Lauren.

You're going to have to invest some serious time on this one.

You're going to have to invest some serious time in this one.

AAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

#13 Posted by SexVicar (53 posts) -

I think what's really the heart of it is that Rob Florence was completely right and libel law actually defends him under the same "Fair Comment" laws that protect newspaper editorial. However, because there is an argument towards "leading" (That is marginal at best as Rob was very deliberate in separating fact from comment), MCV can send a legal notice saying "This doesn't fly. Take it down or we sue you". Libel trials are long and extremely costly to fight and Eurogamer likely doesn't have the money to fight something like that. It's better to remove the offending piece and move on than fight it. So MCV used libel bullying to get EG to take down the article when there was only the slightest margin in favour of Wainwright (And a judge would have likely told them to take a hike in such a marginal case. But since it costs so much to even get to trial, most companies balk at it)

It's a notorious problem with smaller publications. Newspapers can fight because they have the war chest but smaller publications are left in the lurch because they cannot afford to fight it. Infamous British organ Private Eye is notorious for being hit with these sort of letters due to their investigative reporting and uncovering a lot of dirt companies would rather you not hear about. Whenever they have to fight a court case, they have a donation drive to help pay for legal fees. It's a notorious problem. It's not even the first time it's happened in the games industry either. Teletext withdrew a column from the also infamous Digitiser after a legal complaint from the ELSPA over an accusation that they were doing a charity dinner to scam a children's charity and Future Publishing withdrew a column by Paul "Mr. Biffo" Rose (Ex-Editor of the aforementioned Digi) over a column regarding Phil Harrison making an ass of himself at a Marrilion concert trying to promote the PS3. This one just happened to be very public and lead to an explosion of outrage.

#14 Posted by AJ47 (25 posts) -

@intoblivion: Auto Journalists do get flown around the world to test cars in some very exotic locations, I doubt they get free cars though.

#15 Posted by MattyFTM (14349 posts) -

It's absolutely ridiculous that something like this can happen. Robert Florence wrote a fantastic article. He didn't deserve to lose his job over it.

Moderator
#16 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (730 posts) -

@MattyFTM said:

It's absolutely ridiculous that something like this can happen. Robert Florence wrote a fantastic article. He didn't deserve to lose his job over it.

Technically he didn't lose his job. Eurogamer edited the article against his wishes and he felt that he could no longer work there because of that, so he resigned. Still, it shouldn't have happened.

#17 Posted by murisan (1119 posts) -

@dekkadekkadekka said:

@MattyFTM said:

It's absolutely ridiculous that something like this can happen. Robert Florence wrote a fantastic article. He didn't deserve to lose his job over it.

Technically he didn't lose his job. Eurogamer edited the article against his wishes and he felt that he could no longer work there because of that, so he resigned. Still, it shouldn't have happened.

He also received legal threats from Lauren Wainwreight. Who the fuck is she? no clue, but she's not a journo.

#18 Posted by Aetheldod (3514 posts) -

If videogames need one thing less off its definitely all the PR/journos bullshit drama , just tell me when a games coming out , if its broken or not and be done with it

#19 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

@SexVicar: This is why I don't feel like I can blame Eurogamer on this (nor does Rab apparently). I do wish they would have stood up to it, but I realise what that would have entailed.

#20 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

#21 Posted by Synaptic (305 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

#22 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

@Synaptic said:

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Then let them question it. His sense of professionalism should come first.

#23 Posted by Hailinel (23962 posts) -
@Synaptic

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Actually, I'm of the mind that journalists need to call each other out more. Game journalism is so incestuous that it's rare to see legitimate criticism lobbed in the direction of those that do a poor job.
Online
#24 Posted by Disconnect (68 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

@Synaptic said:

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Then let them question it. His sense of professionalism should come first.

He's quoting a tweet that's related to what John Walker brought up concerning journalists being encouraged to spread a hashtag around, he then adds "And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there." That's unprofessional to you? In what sense?

#25 Posted by Wong_Fei_Hung (642 posts) -

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

#26 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

His point stands: the games industry needs a barrier between the so-called journalists, and those putting out content. Besides, she lists Square Enix as an employer, and when this issue was raised on twitter claimed never to have reviewed any of their products.

She has.

#27 Edited by MattyFTM (14349 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

No, he was right. All he did was suggest that her comments could lead to the misinterpretation that she was being paid by Square Enix to advertise the game. He explicitly stated that he was sure she wasn't. He was merely pointing out what one possible interpretation of her comments. Of course she isn't being paid by Square. But her naive comments could lead to that impression.

Moderator
#28 Edited by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

@Disconnect said:

@JasonR86 said:

@Synaptic said:

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Then let them question it. His sense of professionalism should come first.

He's quoting a tweet that's related to what John Walker brought up concerning journalists being encouraged to spread a hashtag around, he then adds "And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there." That's unprofessional to you? In what sense?

There's such a thing as professional courtesy and appropriate behavior. He is writing an editorial for thousands of readers in which he calls into question the ethical standards of a fellow journalist. But he only backs that seed with his own impression of her behavior and without actual hard proof to substantiate his slander.

It's one thing if you or I or anyone else on these forums do what he did because our hollering often falls on deaf ears. But Rab is a professional journalist. His views, whether they are substantiated by facts or not, hold weight. His views are more important then your's or mine simply because he has that audience that will listen. So in this case he has called into question the professional quality and the ethical standing of a fellow journalist simply with observations leading to cobbled together conclusions. It doesn't even really matter that he added "I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there" because the seed was already planted.

Again, I agree with the overall sentiment of the article. I just think he offered his opinion in a very amateurish way.

#29 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (730 posts) -

@MattyFTM said:

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

Of course she isn't being paid by Square.

However her LinkedIn profile shows that she is currently working for Square Enix. Read into that what you will.

#30 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (730 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

@Disconnect said:

@JasonR86 said:

@Synaptic said:

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Then let them question it. His sense of professionalism should come first.

He's quoting a tweet that's related to what John Walker brought up concerning journalists being encouraged to spread a hashtag around, he then adds "And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there." That's unprofessional to you? In what sense?

It's one thing if you or I or anyone else on these forums do what he did because our hollering often falls on deaf ears. But Rab is a professional journalist. His views, whether they are substantiated by facts or not, holds weight. His views are more important then your's or mine simply because he has that audience that will listen. So in this case he has called into question the professional quality and the ethical standing of a fellow journalist simply with observations leading to cobbled together conclusions. It doesn't even really matter that he added "I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there" because the seed was already planted.

Again, I agree with the overall sentiment of the article. I just think he offered his opinion in a very amateurish way.

In his article he lays it out pretty plainly that he is not a games journalist. He's a writer who regularly writes about video games. It's a pretty clear distinction.

#31 Posted by Wong_Fei_Hung (642 posts) -

@MattyFTM: I haven't had a chance to read it all, but if he's covered his tracks I still feel it's crumby to make such accusations without attempting some basic investigation. Any look at her youtube account would show a video from 2009 that clearly shows how much of a fan she is.

#32 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

@dekkadekkadekka said:

@JasonR86 said:

@Disconnect said:

@JasonR86 said:

@Synaptic said:

@JasonR86 said:

I only really wish to address the article. I think Rab makes a good point. I think calling out people by name is amateurish though.

i can see that, but he did it to illustrate his point with concrete examples. if he had left it vague, he would have been forced to reveal the specific evidence by people questioning the validity of his argument.

Then let them question it. His sense of professionalism should come first.

He's quoting a tweet that's related to what John Walker brought up concerning journalists being encouraged to spread a hashtag around, he then adds "And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there." That's unprofessional to you? In what sense?

It's one thing if you or I or anyone else on these forums do what he did because our hollering often falls on deaf ears. But Rab is a professional journalist. His views, whether they are substantiated by facts or not, holds weight. His views are more important then your's or mine simply because he has that audience that will listen. So in this case he has called into question the professional quality and the ethical standing of a fellow journalist simply with observations leading to cobbled together conclusions. It doesn't even really matter that he added "I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there" because the seed was already planted.

Again, I agree with the overall sentiment of the article. I just think he offered his opinion in a very amateurish way.

In his article he lays it out pretty plainly that he is not a games journalist. He's a writer who regularly writes about video games. It's a pretty clear distinction.

Professional writer then. I still feel the same way.

#33 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

Lewis Denby posted an interesting article about what he thinks the root cause of this is. He seems to feel that much of the blame lies in the lack of ethics education young bloggers and writers are given when they're pulled up by bigger sites.

http://beefjack.com/news/games-journalism-ethics/

Whilst I think that's an issue, most people should be smart enough to have an awareness of the way they present themselves as a professional voice in the industry.

#34 Posted by MattyFTM (14349 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

@MattyFTM: I haven't had a chance to read it all, but if he's covered his tracks I still feel it's crumby to make such accusations without attempting some basic investigation. Any look at her youtube account would show a video from 2009 that clearly shows how much of a fan she is.

He didn't make any accusations though. He talked about a possible misconception that people could have based on her tweets. He explicitly stated that she obviously wasn't in the pocket of Square Enix. He merely surmised that people could come to that conclusion based on her tweets.

Moderator
#35 Posted by jakob187 (21645 posts) -

I think the article (the original at least) hits on some good points. At the same time, throwing piss and vinegar as Keighley is an easy target because of his national recognition. It doesn't mean that Keighley isn't invested in games and doesn't care about them. It means he's the leader of Spike's video game circus, and television likes spectacles. All of that can't be blamed on Keighley.

However, when you look at things like the VGAs or E3, you can see where problems in the world of "gaming journalism" are. Honestly, there's no such thing as "gaming journalism" IMO. It's all people that write about games. There are few people that I would consider in the land of journalism, and those are the few people who will dig and dig for a source, a story, an exclusive, something that no one else has. They will present the facts instead of an opinion. That is fascinating stuff to me.

With that said, it's always sad to see someone walk out because their opinions are too upfront and honest for a website.

#36 Posted by jakob187 (21645 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

LEVIO?!

#37 Posted by Wong_Fei_Hung (642 posts) -

@GetEveryone:

Like many videogame journalists before her, she's done consultancy work for developers, one of hers was for Square Enix, so what?.

#38 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@MattyFTM said:

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

No, he was right. All he did was suggest that her comments could lead to the misinterpretation that she was being paid by Square Enix to advertise the game. He explicitly stated that he was sure she wasn't. He was merely pointing out what one possible interpretation of her comments. Of course she isn't being paid by Square. But her naive comments could lead to that impression.

Except she's employed by Square Enix.

Edit: Whoops. Didn't mean to send that so abruptly. If you look on the previous page there are links to Journalisting with one of her listed employers as Square Enix. She later admits to it on Twitter but denies reviewing any of their products. She reviewed Deus Ex for the Sun. There mere fact that she's employed by them is extremely dubious given her background; if that isn't bad enough, her follow-up statements should see her ostracized. Of course, she is far from the only person guilty of this sort of behaviour, and would act only as a scapegoat.

Moreover, via Ben Kuchera:

"It's important to note this isn't petty. Someone who works as a consultant for a company was criticized for promoting those games as press. In response, her bosses at MCV tried to suppress the critical story, and succeeded. It's disgusting. This is literal corruption."

The industry as a whole has been like this for years, and it's fantastic seeing it all come to a head (sadly, at the expense of Rob's job). Have you seen AngryJoe's interview with Geoff Keighley?

#39 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

On the Tomb Raider thing, the issue is not whether she is a fan of Tomb Raider or not, it's how she handles that as a professional. Be enthusiastic about the released games in the series, by all means. We need passion in this industry. But don't plaster your twitter page with the cover art for an unreleased entry in the series, and gush about it like a fan on a forum. Separate the two sides. The new games isn't released, don't transfer the love you have for the previous games into that one, have some professionalism.

#40 Posted by Wong_Fei_Hung (642 posts) -

He's definitely got something on keighley, that image alone speaks volumes.

#41 Posted by Tylea002 (2295 posts) -

Games Journalism. Keeping it classy.

#42 Posted by Kerned (1169 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung: It's a pretty clear conflict of interest. You don't take money from the people you are covering. Otherwise, how can anyone trust that you are being objective?

#43 Posted by MattyFTM (14349 posts) -

@GetEveryone said:

@MattyFTM said:

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

He's wrong about Lauren, she's a huge Tomb Raider fangirl, and has been for many years.

No, he was right. All he did was suggest that her comments could lead to the misinterpretation that she was being paid by Square Enix to advertise the game. He explicitly stated that he was sure she wasn't. He was merely pointing out what one possible interpretation of her comments. Of course she isn't being paid by Square. But her naive comments could lead to that impression.

Except she's employed by Square Enix.

She did freelance work for them. That makes the whole situation even more complicated. Especially since she's reviewed Sqeenix games (despite her claims to the contrary).

But that's largely irrelevant to the article itself. Rab wasn't making any accusations based on that. He wasn't even making accusations. He was just pointing out a possible interpretation of her tweets.

Moderator
#44 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@MattyFTM: I actually didn't mean to hit send so early, if you have a look again, I've expanded.

It is far from irrelevant. His interpretation is effectively correct and throws a damning light on career as a 'journalist'.

#45 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@Wong_Fei_Hung said:

@GetEveryone:

Like many videogame journalists before her, she's done consultancy work for developers, one of hers was for Square Enix, so what?.

Depending on the time of her employement (listed as current), it is highly dubious that her Twitter page is plastered with advertisements for an unreleased game when it is published by them.

Moreover, she's already lied with regard to having reviewing any of their games.

That's what.

See my edited post for the MCV comments, also.

#46 Posted by Hats (360 posts) -

I could be wrong but Lauren Wainwright didn't threaten to sue Eurogamer it was MCV who she works for

I feel bad for her the amount of hate that's she is or about to get will be disproportionate.

At least this guy got to step down and not get locked out of his office then told he was fired for giving a certain game a 6/10

It seems Eidos Interactive ability of having PR stunts blow up in their face was included in the Square Enix deal

#47 Posted by Shaka999 (456 posts) -

If only because this video hasn't been posted in this thread...

#48 Posted by Wong_Fei_Hung (642 posts) -

@GetEveryone:

As far as i know her latest work has not been with SE, it's been for MVC and a UK based newspaper, and unrelated to any Square game.

You cannot shut off being a fan of a game, and showing your appreciation for a series visually or by any other means, hell Kevin van Ord reviews every single AC game, his blogs are plastered with images, and he even has an ugly tattoo.

#49 Posted by DoctorWelch (2774 posts) -

Thank you for summarizing this. There's been a lot of buz and I had no idea what it was about.

It shows just how much the games industry needs to grow up and be a respectable/profesional industry.

#50 Posted by Kieran_ES (258 posts) -

@Hats: She tweeted after the article went up that the Media Law course she took was going to come in handy. There have also been specific references to her as the instigator. All seems to suggest she was mostly responsible. Though I wouldn't be surprised if it was MCV either.

I don't endorse any sort of abuse she's receiving, especially the awful sexist insults being flung around. Those tweeting at her trying to explain why they feel she's in the wrong calmly, I fully endorse. She has surrounded herself in a bubble of agreement (from others who took part in the competition) and made her account private.