JonCole

"Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

6158 posts in this topic

Well Milo was a piece of shit long before he jumped into the GG fray.

 

But on the other hand I wouldn't be surprised if multiple prominent GG figures agreed with him.

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I feel like that guy just says whatever he thinks will piss people off the most. I read a few of his pieces in good faith, or at least tried to, and he doesn't seem to have any coherent opinions beyond "you're wrong."

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Well Milo was a piece of shit long before he jumped into the GG fray.

 

But on the other hand I wouldn't be surprised if multiple prominent GG figures agreed with him.

 

I mean, looking at the 4chan thread, they spend hours encouraging and advising him, then blame women for not dating him when they get the news that he went through with it. That whole scene is already deep in the toxic double-think.

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I mean, looking at the 4chan thread, they spend hours encouraging and advising him, then blame women for not dating him when they get the news that he went through with it.

 

Yup, they do that. I was all "this has nothing to do with gamergate" yesterday... and then Cernovich and Yiannopoulos et al. joined the bandwagon with outrageously 'funny' comments and 4chan decided to give their usual logic the extra NRA edge.

 

Guns don't kill people, feminists do. Well, indirectly. By not being prostitutes for world peace, y'know.

 

 

 

...ANYWAY...

Unghhh. I'd have a more gamergatey bone to gnaw on right now. It seems like "the influential #gamergate defender", reaxxion and AVFM fan Elizabeth Fogarty/Finnegan has flexed her untrained journalist muscles on the Escapist a little too hard, trying to type up a 100% Derek Smart type critique of the Star Citizen project... with plenty of anonymous contacts to former employees who surprisingly sound a whole lot like the readily available employer reviews on glassdoor.com.

 

It's not an ethics in journalism problem though, because this can not possibly have been meant as "journalism".

 

To top it all, Chris Roberts has been giving in to this terrorism. He would now like to tour the Escapist idiots around in his studio. The Derek Smarts are winning this round.

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Unghhh. I'd have a more gamergatey bone to gnaw on right now. It seems like "the influential #gamergate defender", reaxxion and AVFM fan Elizabeth Fogarty/Finnegan has flexed her untrained journalist muscles on the Escapist a little too hard, trying to type up a 100% Derek Smart type critique of the Star Citizen project... with plenty of anonymous contacts to former employees who surprisingly sound a whole lot like the readily available employer reviews on glassdoor.com.

 

It's not an ethics in journalism problem though, because this can not possibly have been meant as "journalism".

 

It's even more absurd. The first article ("Eject! Eject!") came out on 9/25 with minimal sources and minimal reaction. Then, between 9/26 and 9/28, five one-star reviews were posted for Cloud Imperium Games on Glassdoor, which had previously received a review every one or two months. The second article came out on 10/1, quoting these recent reviews extensively as anonymous sources. The author had, at best, forty-eight hours to read the reviews, contact the people who submitted them, verify their identities, and ask permission to quote from their reviews. That scenario is made even more implausible by the absence of a private message system tied to Glassdoor accounts, so... yeah.

 

Now that this has been revealed, the author of the two articles is claiming that the people who wrote the Glassdoor reviews contacted her immediately after her 9/25 article, so she and her editor had a week to vet them, which they claim they did "to some degree" for every one, and that some later posted their stories on Glassdoor independently and near-verbatim. She further claims that two of the sources offered to reveal their identities in the 10/1 article, which she and her editor vetoed for their privacy and safety, and that is why all the sources are anonymous. She also points out that she used the word "alleged" with almost all of her assertions, which is apparently a shibboleth that protects you from libel and journalistic fraud. Seriously, I get weird tingles reading all of this. Given such a suspicious sequence of events, the fact that the best The Escapist has to say is "trust us" makes me... I don't know. Ridiculous coincidence, ignorant fumbling, or a pathetic conspiracy in miniature? Who knows.

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After reading Roberts' response in full, I will retract part of what I said about him in my last post. He's not 'giving in' so much as he attacks, quite in the context of gamergate, the ethically challenged author of the article.

 

I’m also pretty concerned that your reporter on this is compromised and pursuing her own agenda. For someone who is a self-acclaimed Gamer Gate supporter, which last I checked was about ethics in video game journalism, she’s not been behaving or going about her business like an ethical reporter. [...]

 

He goes on to convincingly show how Fogarty continues her gamergate activism from semi-anonymous twitter accounts – and then, of course, protests that gamergate supposedly stands for the kind of ethics the Escapist has put in the microwave until the hamster burst.

 

Meanwhile, the Escapist has decided to insult its readers. Click on the above link to the article and witness how let me google that for you gives you results for "entitlement".

 

...as far as I know, gamergate supporters often say that gamergate only started because journalists insulted their readership.

 

Meanwhile, accompanied by the consoling comments of Mr. Derek Smart (...surprise!), Fogarty goes boo hoo on her twitter: "I didn't accuse anyone of anything". Yup, she said allegedly a lot like a proper journalist Yiannopoulos when making accusations. :wacko:

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I didn't think I'd regret turning off the Autoblocker as quickly as I did, but here we are.

 

Immediately afterwards somebody tagged me into a conversation over an article I wrote, and I can't tell if this is terrible timing or people have been yelling in my general direction a lot more than I was aware of.

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The Star Citizen thing gets weirder. Here is a Reddit post made on September 22, a leaked email in which the former character lead of CIG is elaborating why he decided to quit. It has been making the rounds in the games artist communities.

https://www.reddit.com/r/starcitizen/comments/3lyfb1/david_jennison_former_lead_character_artist_in/

He makes some very specific complaints and accusations regarding what a complete shitshow the production is. Things that sound plausible and are consistent with other things I've heard

Where it gets weird is that a few hours after this post going up it was edited to clarify that the source was Derek Smart, who in turn got it from an unknown source. Not to mention the timing coinciding with the escapist articles. This starts to make it seem like a coordinated smear campaign by Smart.

I don't doubt that a lot of the complaints about how that project us run are true. I've been hearing similar anecdotes for a while. What I suspect is the case is that Smart is using these actual issues to piggyback his slander and hyperbole.

To loop this back to GG. My suspicions are that Smart is slowly easing himself into GG (it will seem more authentic than him just suddenly waving their banner) so he can have an angry mob of hardcore gamers he can mobilize in his crusade on Star Citizen. There is plenty of stuff they could latch on to. Crowdfunded, woman in a leadership position, Roberts being anti-GG.

And that kinda worries me. The rest of the figureheads ostensibly jumped on the bandwagon for attention or money. Smart on the other hand has a very clear agenda.

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More star citizen stuff, the escapist has made a post on how the got their info, via emails, phone calls and Skype. They say that the correspondents verified themselves as CIG employees, to the satisfaction of their legal department; they say that some of those employees layer posted the same comments on glassdoor. They specifically say that none of the info came from Derek Smart.

Whether or not the allegations of these employees are true is another matter, of course.

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Several people here, including myself, have known about the 'rebuttal' Escapist post for a while. Gormongous references its content explicitly when he talks about Fogarty's "defense".

 

/edit: Okay, weird sauce. Can anyone confirm that the link to the Escapist article led to let me google that for you this morning (CET)? Because right now, it looks like I've been the only one to experience that. :blink:

 

/edit 2: Figured it out. All 'do not links' to the Escapist lead to that lmgtfy page.

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I didn't see that, sorry!

 

It's only fair to be skeptical of both sides, until more information comes to light. Just because some people have delighted in causing harm towards CIG, it doesn't necessarily make them wrong. There'll be a convention next week, and I hope CIG really prove those detractors wrong. However, the test builds I have played have been mediocre to  abominable 

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The one thing that's necessary to reiterate here is: All this is not about "defending" Star Citizen.

 

I have no idea whether that project's going down the drain or is mismanaged to the highest degree. I don't know. Neither does Smart or Fogarty/Finnegan, nor do single employees of Roberts' company. As long as the singleplayer doesn't pop up at GOG one day, I'm not interested in Star Citizen, and the only things I've heard about it – namely, their crowd funding system that isn't crowd funding – do not exactly sound particularly ethical.

 

But at this time, the (certainly in a way coordinated) effort of Smart and Fogarty to pull down Star Citizen must be considered a well oiled self fullfilling prophecy. Personally, I couldn't work in this kind of job when the press perpetually spoke about its impending downfall. This kind of smack talk will have negative repercussions on the project, wherever it was headed until now.

 

And all this is only just about the article itself.

 

There is, in addition, Roberts' teensy accusation that Fogarty attacks him from an anonymous twitter account. The accusation remains noticably unaddressed by the Escapist. Hey, maybe that's just what Escapist journalists do in their free time after making a living by extorting free studio tours from a to date rather successful indie studio.

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Regardless of accuracy or ethics of Star Citizen itself, this sounds effectively like a co-ordinated smear campaign against Star Citizen.

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Maybe I am being naive-- I successfully stayed in academia for decades, avoiding the real world-- but what if these people are horrified by the thought of people pouring more and more money into something that they know for sure can never be delivered in the form that was promised? What if they thought they were being brave and noble, and sacrificing, and simply made the mistake of confiding in Derek Smart first? I think that the ethics of the article itself rather depend on the motivation. Smear campaign or whistleblowing? 

 

The way a message is delivered is extremely important; I know this from personal experience! I was delivering a talk at a conference showing how pretty much everyone was doing something wrong, but I got heatstroke before my talk  and was waaay too aggressive, meaning that everyone stopped paying attention. I had to wait for my paper to be published, in a calm and reasonable manner, before I got the message across

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Accusing your former employer of clear cut racism and misogyny based on hearsay is not whistleblowing. :mellow:

 

But I get what you're saying. Nothing would be worse than an eventual Derek Smart was right. And it's still damn possible.

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I find the Escapist to have become untrustable and indefensible as a publication, therefore I don't trust there reporting and therefore I don't think their reporting should be given any amount of credence without verification from the outside, verification that does not include anonymous sources or Derek Smart. 

 

Also, first rule of "question" headlines is that the answer is no.  Eject! Eject! Is Star Citizen Going to Crash and Burn?  No.  Never trust a question headline.  If the writer had confidence in the answer, they wouldn't make the headline a question.  They'd give the answer.  Eject! Eject!  How Start Citizen is Going to Crash and Burn

 

The timeline on this series of articles is rushed, far more rushed an they needed to be (as pointed out by Roberts himself).  There's no reason, at all, that the articles had to be published when they were, not when there was easily additional work that needed to be done on them.  Additional, non-anonymous sources should have been sought out.  Roberts should have been interviewed. 

 

Even if many of the allegations ended up true, the Escapist still continues to lose credibility in my mind over how they chose to handle this. 

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Roberts should have been interviewed.

 

At least an effing contact attempt should have been made. But, no, it had to be another takedown piece. As Keefer puts it in his clarification:

 

Our job was to present both sides and let you, the reader, make your own determination.

That may have been Fogarty's job, but she didn't do it. No, she published not one but two blatantly one sided and stick poking articles in hopes that Roberts would react to her remote terrorism. Congratulations, he did. So she (or someone else) loosely worked Roberts' answers to the already published accusations into the article.

 

But as it stands, the report presented two sides, the allegations and observations of former and current employees and the response to them from Chris Roberts for CIG.

 

The report 'now' presents two sides. And I guess that Roberts has not even given his explicit consent to using and rephrasing his statements in that motherfucker of an ethics breach article.

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I'm irritated by the assertion that it's a good thing when the readers of an article are to come to their own conclusions. The journalist almost always has more information than the readers.

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I'm irritated by the assertion that it's a good thing when the readers of an article are to come to their own conclusions. The journalist almost always has more information than the readers.

Any omission or distortion of that info is a wild breach of eth OH MY GOD WHAT AM I SAYING.

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I'm not really interested in defending this, but I'm curious if this conversation wouldn't be going a little differently if this had been written by somebody else, somewhere else. Obviously the who and where are big points of context that you can't just rewrite without changing the entire situation, but some of the talk here goes in the direction of implying that the writing and publication of these pieces was just a series of one obvious ethical misstep after another, and I don't think this is actually too different from the kind of content other, more well-regarded sites run?

 

At the very least, I cannot find any glaring flaws in the first article of that whole chain. It's a little heavy on quoting Smart perhaps, but that's not necessarily an issue in itself. We're reading this from a point of view of having just discussed for multiple pages his various bizarre actions, but not everybody out there is going to care about his shitty politics as much as we do. Not pointing out that he's working on a game that, as far as I understand it, is kinda going in a similar direction as Star Citizen a little bit and could be seen as a rival product (if it wasn't such an obvious broken mess) is a pretty glaring omission, but otherwise this initial piece is pretty decent about contextualizing things, by mentioning the petition for Smart to shut the fuck up and generally being pretty open about how non-substantial most of this information is: here look at this twitlonger, this archived page, this LinkedIn profile. That makes the article pretty non-substantial by extension, but honestly, that applies to like 90% of stuff that is written about games that aren't released yet.

 

The follow-up seems to mostly fall apart because 1) it pretends to be serious journalism, with all this talk of confidential sources and such, but actually still deals in the same internet rumors as before, just less honestly so and 2) it doubles down way too hard on trying to prove a speculative "a guy said X" story, which inevitably looks like they are actually picking up that guy's crusade themselves instead of just reporting on it. So yeah, that was all handled pretty poorly.

 

At the same time, I don't think the initial story was really far enough out of line to make a fuss. The nature of Star Citizen just opens it up to speculation: it's sitting on this huge pile of crowdfunded money and nobody really knows what's going on. Game development is always a bit of a black box, but the amount of smokescreens set up around this game in particular is still spectacular, what with all the fictional companies and in-universe stuff that you need to dig through if you want to get to any concrete information, of which there is very little made readily available (out of curiosity, I just downloaded their presskit, and it consists of a bunch of screenshots and a two-page pdf that doesn't tell you anything at all, really).

 

I don't think it's fair to tell journalists that they have to cover both sides, get in touch with the developers, and always respect their wishes in that kind of situation, because that makes it very easy for big devs to control the terms of the conversation and shut down unfavorable reporting by starving it out. This isn't the kind of reporting I would have done perhaps, but I'm still not a fan of the terms on which it is criticized sometimes.

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Holy moly that response letter.

 

I can tell you all something for damn sure; you read any professional news and actual publication, if shit like that article gets written it doesn't go to press until the accused or someone representing the accused (like an agent in the case of celebrities) is contacted for their say. The argument about having to "go to print" is something that died off with the internet; "going to print" is a term that exists to explain how a newspaper or magazine has to actually be printed in great quantity physically. Once printed there's no going back. Internet 'publications' are not constrained by that at all; you can post your article whenever you fucking want.

 

But yeah. The response does a good job of laying out how it was all a smear campaign. I'm glad no mention of lawsuit was made, because that would possibly actually hurt the process of a lawsuit. Reasonable demands were made and if not met, they can go from there.

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As delicious as the irony of a proGG journo at a proGG site getting punished for their ethical misconduct may be, I'm not going to cheer for a letter that accuses any writer of being biased.

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