Hard journalism has historically worked where the journalists have the resources to fully develop their story. In short, this means time (which is hard when writers have to put out new material every hour) and money. Newspapers were previously able to rely on not only advertising revenue to support their operations, but also classified ad revenue, “the lifeblood of the American newspaper industry“. Where an advertiser might threaten to pull funding due to a certain story, classified ad revenue was more consistent and less editorially influenced – if you were trying to sell your sofa via a classified ad, you only cared about the circulation of the newspaper, not necessarily what it had on its front page.
Gaming sites have never had classified ad revenue to fall back on, so are entirely reliant on advertiser-generated revenue. This has made them vulnerable to influence from game publishers and limits their ability to work on hard journalism material. A number of gaming sites have started to attract advertising from outside of the gaming industry – one of the benefits of games going mainstream – which opens up the potential for more independent journalism from games writers. As more money comes in that isn’t tied to releasing high review scores, games writers have more scope to work with.
However, GamerGate took direct target on this, managing to drive several non-gaming sponsors away from particular sites through an email barrage campaign. This is the first time I can see that gamers took direct aim at a site’s source of income beyond simply boycotting the site. But again this situation sets up the blackest of ironies – by driving off non-gaming sponsors, it allows game publishers (the group with the actual history of trying to manipulate gaming sites) greater influence over site content.
–UnSubject on ethics in games journalism.
So, as with most things, this post has been sitting in my “to be posted” queue since last year. The way my queue works, sometimes by the time I get around to actually posting something, its relevance has faded and it ends up in Trash rather than Published. So be it.
GamerGate is one of those things I wish I could send 2014-era posts to the trash over. Sadly, however, no. No, this bullshit is still going on. Like, seriously. It’s been like over half a year. Surely there’s been a new God of Assassin’s Duty: Battlefield Theft Warfare released by now that these palefaced neckbeards can bleat over instead.