The other day the gaming community was flooded with reports of an alleged leak regarding information on the next Microsoft console. The anonymous email was whored out to several “reputable” gaming news outlets in an attempt at a response. As the author cast his line into the shark infested waters it was only a matter of time before someone took the bait. Of course not only did he get a bite, they broke the line as practically every site contacted proceeded to post the speculation immediately. You can read the email in the graphic below.
The results were nothing short of mind boggling. Sites like Yahoo, CNET, Gizmodo and VG247 to name a few, jumped on the bandwagon in an effort to drive traffic to their sites. The authors experiment was a success of sorts, whether his intention was to solidify the validity of big name news outlets or to demean the games journalism profession as a whole, he succeeded. Therein lies the problem plaguing our entire industry, instead of being viewed as the 6 o’clock news we’re more like Entertainment Tonight. It’s no wonder gamers everywhere are weary of any “news” posted on big time and small time sites alike, who’s to say what’s true or not when self-proclaimed journalists neglect to do the work their title defines? The race to be first outweighs the integrity of the profession, the sad reality of an industry that lives and breathes online.
However, are the games journalists to blame? In a word, yes, but nothing is ever that black and white. Being one of those self-proclaimed journalists and working for a small site I can’t help but raise the concern that those in the same position don’t have access to the resources of our bigger brothers. The odds of an Xbox/Microsoft rep even responding to my email let alone taking the time to read and put a kibosh on a rumour are slim to none. This brings up another problem and the mutual fault companies need to accept and acknowledge. When those who are genuinely putting in the effort to pound the pavement and prove or disprove rumours are flat out ignored, it’s hard not to fall into the bad habit of racing to be first to post anything that will garner views. Unfortunately that clearly takes precedent for all of us for the sheer fact that if you fall behind you lose money and if you lose money you can’t continue to work, if you can’t continue to work you lose your livelihood etc. This is the reality facing a lot of journalists who take the plunge and risk it all to pursue their passion.
As the author suggests it would appear the loophole in posting bullshit is inserting “rumour” at the end of the headline. Going back to my ET comment, it’s that attitude that just proves we’re in an industry that treats rumours and hoaxes as news then back-pedal when the true facts come to light. Speculation is not news, it shouldn’t even be treated as news but it is. It’s a vicious circle in an industry that has become dominated by big business and ad revenue, reducing a once passion driven community into an endless line of paranoid cynics.
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