This Post Is Not About GamerGate

from the it's-about-ethics-in-journalism dept

  1. Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: as you’ll quickly see, there is no way to write this post without someone accusing us of being hypocritical — so we’re going to just get it out of the way upfront and note that that’s absolutely true, as the article we’ll be linking to also admits that such hypocrisy is occasionally necessary in reporting. We hope that the reasons for why we’re doing this post are clear in the text below, so going hogwild in the comments claiming hypocrisy won’t be particularly productive. We know. We get it.
  2. This post really is not about GamerGate. It is really about ethics in journalism (I know, I know). We have no real interest in writing about the whole GamerGate thing at all, because almost none of it is interesting and almost all of it is incredibly, mind-bendingly stupid, no matter what position you’re arguing. So, I’m really hoping — while recognizing this hope will likely not be realized — that the comments on this post won’t actually be about GamerGate or any sort of debate about the merits of one side or the other, but rather about what this article is really about, which is the journalism coverage.

With that out of the way, as noted, we haven’t been covering “GamerGate” at all, in part because the whole thing is just kind of ridiculous. There are a lot of wild accusations being thrown around on all sides, and a lot of really bad actions and statements by a lot of people, leading to lots of other wild accusations. Some of the accusations are true, some are not true, many are wildly misleading. But the other reason we haven’t been covering it is because it’s covered to death everywhere else — to an almost insane level. And that’s what we’re talking about today, based on a great article by Jason Koebler over at Vice’s Motherboard, noting that so much of the coverage exists because writing something about GamerGate appears to drive a ton of traffic. And in the stupid click-driven world that many publications live off of these days, you do what brings in the traffic (disclaimer: see point 1 at the very top of this post):

The dirty secret here is that, unlike a story about Ebola or Monica Lewinsky or basically anything else anyone writes about, writers and editors can be assured that their GamerGate coverage gets a disproportionate amount of traffic. As far as online journalism gambling goes, it’s one of the safer bets you can make.

That’s because GamerGate story readership isn’t the general public: It’s the people who are in the movement itself. For proof of this, look at the fact that the vast majority of GamerGate coverage have hundreds and even thousands of comments?almost all of them from people in the movement.

But it’s not just about GamerGate. It’s about the way that online news has developed into this traffic-whoring stage, with lots of publications all rushing to cover “the thing that will bring traffic.”

Apple announcing an iPhone is news, sure. But Apple announcing an iPhone and breathlessly writing 50 blog posts and a ~live blog~ and an instant analysis and hot takes is when reporting stops being reporting and starts becoming the journalistic equivalent of putting chips on every single number in roulette hoping Reddit or Facebook or someone else picks your story to win that day?s internet traffic lottery.

And, you know, it’s not just tech journalism either:

The side effect of this is that the world starts thinking that every time the  House votes to repeal Obamacare or every time Congress holds a hearing about Benghazi or every time John Oliver TOTALLY EVISCERATES someone every time a fringe scientist says climate change isn?t real or every time a normal person or government agency joins Twitter or every time a celebrity gets plastic surgery or every time some internet nerds can rile up a Gawker writer on Twitter is capital-I Important.

They’re all attempts to “win the social media lottery” to have a story go “viral” and suddenly have a lot more traffic.

Frankly, this is stupid. And it’s something (again, disclaimer above) we mostly try to avoid. There are a few of our regular critics who accuse us of being traffic whores ourselves (and I imagine a few of them may be rushing to comment as such on this article). They claim that we write what we write to get traffic. But here’s a dirty little secret for you: if you want a lot of traffic, writing about intellectual property law, free speech, international trade agreements and regulatory capture isn’t the best way to get it. We’ve never covered a big Apple event. While we’ll occasionally attend an event, we tend to write about it a day or two later, after we’ve had a chance to let things sink in. And we try (though we don’t always succeed) to provide a different take on things. We add our opinion (or, as the critics explain, we “spin” or report things in a “biased” way). We try to only write about stories that we actually think are interesting (and, even then we only get to about a third of the stories we actually think are interesting).

As a result of that, I hope that the people who read this site tend to be more loyal and actually more interested in what we have to say (and often more willing to join in the discussion and join the larger community). But, that’s not how many media publications work today. It’s all about the “metrics” — the number of visitors, and with the social media firehose so big, the focus has been moving aggressively towards that viral lottery. That’s not to say we don’t keep tabs on our own traffic — because of course we do. But we know that getting a big story on Reddit means a flood of people who visit for 30 seconds and move on. Our loyal readers are the ones who stick around, and hopefully it’s because we’re not providing one of fifty different stories about the same damn thing with the same “journalistic” take (i.e., without any color, without any opinion and without any heart). Our position may not be great for advertisers. I’ve had discussions with potential advertisers, explaining how we have a really loyal community, and most of them don’t seem to care. They just want bigger numbers, even if those bigger numbers are meaningless, because the audience doesn’t give a shit. I would think that having a loyal, interested and committed community would be a lot more interesting to advertisers, but so many play the same stupid numbers game, and that leads so many publications to do the same.

There are a few publications that have clearly recognized that the hamster wheel chase of rewriting the identical story over and over again while adding nothing new is not worth it. It’s been great to see and I’ve been encouraged by some publications that have really focused on building a loyal audience through doing something different and providing more value. But, for many, it’s all about a single metric: traffic. Then it starts to feel a lot less like journalism or something socially valuable. It just feels like… well… a game.

For years, we’ve talked about how few seem to recognize that real journalism is about the community, not about “the news.” I’m hopeful that more people begin to recognize this. And for all the hypocrisy in this post (disclaimer 1), consider part of this hypocritical post to be an attempt to share why we do what we do — and why we don’t do certain other things that we’d consider to be just cynical clickwhoring.

If we want to have a discussion about “ethics in journalism” perhaps it should start with a discussion about all of this.

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Comments on “This Post Is Not About GamerGate”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

One reason I love this site is that it often shows the original documents. Coverage of a Supreme Court decision? The decision is embedded. Coverage of a lawsuit? The complaint is shown. If there was previous coverage, on this site or another, links are provided. I don’t just have to trust that the reporting is accurate; I can see for myself.

Sometimes that results in a “gotcha” where close review of the original reveals that it does not quite say what the article says it says – but most of the time it’s spot on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Journalism can be many things, but journalists are humans and easily biased unconsciously. By providing access to original documentation the reader can judge the angling and better understand the details in the topic and the particular opinions. Sure, it may cause people to prioritize the stories they follow a lot narrower, but it is so much more honest. This site has some very controversial and uncommon opinions and topics. Coupled with the access to the original source, it holds a strong position in opinion journalism.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

100% agree. This is why I keep coming back to TD, and why TD is my first choice for news.

It’s also amazing to me that Mike and the other TD writers can fit so much more useful and informative information or commentary in a few short paragraphs than the “in-depth” articles on other sites that are 5 times as long because they’ve got so much useless filler.

Cassie says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think they literally meant Apple did this. They just provided a good example using a popular brand. With the rash of articles on the IPhone 6 and 6plus, could you imagine how much worse it would be if Apple HAD done this? I don’t like Apple products, (I don’t bash them either) and I would be thoroughly annoyed if Apple did something like this.


Re: Re: Slimey but satisfying.

There was a recent Apple article on The Register that was basically marketing disguised as journalism. It’s was also the kind of article that was trying to sell it’s “narrative” despite the facts and despite the facts were in the article.

I bluntly told them what I thought of that.

They let the criticism stand (unlike The Verge) and my comment was heavily downvoted.

Jeffry Houser (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I thought during the Apple iPhone 6 event, Apple had their own liveblog type thing that was re-tweeting tweets (and other social media furor) around the announcement.

I believe that is the first time Apple had done something like that to my knowledge. It was like a real-time moderated aggregator of the community reaction to the announcement.

John Menden (profile) says:

Thoughtful > Reactionary

I don’t usually comment, but this post resonated with me. The reason I am part of your loyal readership, Mike, is that you and the other Techdirt writers clearly put thought into your writing. I don’t always agree with opinions expressed here, but those opinions are usually very well-reasoned and well-informed. Most news outlets mistake neutrality for objectivity, and still don’t even get the neutrality right.

Thank you, Techdirt! You are appreciated!

David Morgan says:

Journalism as a general concept is about whoring – selling a service that provides something to the customer. Expecting that the companies that employ journalists to have some sort of higher calling is misguided at best. All media requires a customer to sell to, and the customer decides what they will pay attention to.

You keep referring to hypocrisy in your article, but I will say that in the 4+ years I’ve been reading via RSS this site, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to come and comment. Techdirt provides commentary more than pure reporting, and that has significant value to us, the readers. Techdirt also provides community so that exchanges of concepts and whatnot can bubble to the surface.

At the end of the day, you do the entire community a service – because most of us that feel passionate about IP, international trade agreements, privacy rights, etc. don’t have the time to follow these things on our own.


Re: E Pleb Nista

No. There is a cultural mythology that journalism is about something in this country. That’s why it is protected by the 1st Amendment of our Bill of Rights. There’s an expectation that the press has something useful to contribute to a free society. That contribution cannot be interfered with our our free society is undermined.

The same goes for speech and religion is which all three of these stand together, the holiest of holies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, that’s what Nintendo Power writers did “general concept is about whoring – selling a service that provides something to the customer.” A real journalist will not it for granted you possess X material possession or even his description of Y material possession should mean that you buy it in a mandatory manner if the articles praise Y material possession.

BONES (profile) says:

Mike you just keep up the great work!

As others have stated your original and opinionated coverage is fantastic. It’s why you are one of the first and last sites I hit each day. You’re original takes on stories have given me multiple opportunities to tell our lawyers and C-level leaders why overreacting to criticism will lead to a Streisand effect for the company.

Thanks for your excellent reporting and keep it up!

Violynne (profile) says:

I still remember the topic which first lead me to Techdirt: copyright abuse. In a weird turn of events, Techdirt ended up being referenced in another article from a site I don’t even recall, and I’ve been here ever since (although using different usernames under the same account).

Why do I keep coming back? Mostly because it’s just a better place to be. While I don’t appreciate everything Techdirt has to offer (*coughhidingpostscough*), what I don’t appreciate is easily forgivable for what it does offer.

The biggest reason I enjoy these articles is (generally) due to the lack of bias. I mean, to read something where a post is just presenting the facts is damn near unheard of anymore. Clickbait is rare and when I forward an article, it’s to those I know are interested in the subject.

Plus, this community seems to tolerate me a bit easier than others, as I know I can come off as… well, I’ll keep in clean and say “unfriendly”. Sometimes, emotions just get the better of me in regard to certain subjects. I generally try to keep my use of “idiot” as clean as I get, but when someone really pisses me off, they get the crown “Asshole” (takes one to know one).

I know there are going to be positions Techdirt takes I won’t agree with, such as the recent “censorship” YouTube took of the beheading videos, but they didn’t stoop down to calling those running the company names that would make Fox News (the company that started it all) proud.

I grew up with journalists who didn’t take crap from advertisers, knowing full well people wanted the truth as best their editors would allow them to give.

Today, all that’s changed. Advertisers are calling the shots, and businesses are scrambling to scoop up all the pennies (literally) they’re being thrown.

And this, Mike Masnick, is why I will never accept the “ads are content, content are ads” relationship. It’s getting so bad, it’s almost impossible to see the line drawn. Perhaps this is a good thing? Doubtful, especially when the argument comes down to ethics in journalism.

At any rate, I definitely appreciate what Techdirt does and here’s to hoping for many years of having my blood pressure raise as articles are produced on the contagious stupidity that’s plaguing this country.

PS: Shut up, Dodd.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What brought me here was links on Encyclopedia Dramatica. Not kidding, you know the kind of links they put at the end when they’re making serious articles. It was about in a way or another (there’s many) how the West orchestrated and messed up Ukraine tossing out a democratically elected president who was blocking his parliament at “Maiden” with cops told not to retaliate, attack, or do anything while they were thrown molotov cocktails.. and snipers started shooting at cops AND demonstrators.

I don’t know if it was about any of that, but it was something fishy about the media and Ukraine/Russia.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets just make this simple.

People love shock value in a story. It always follows current social norms.

It is still socially acceptable to stigmatize females for sleeping around while give guys a pass, so in retaliation males will call females they don’t like whores/sluts and what have you.

It is also socially acceptable for women to emasculate men for the very same stupid reasons, so they like to call men childish or immature dogs.

Its all the same, in the pursuit of self contrived retribution we all spew the nonsensical garbage that has occurred throughout this stupid situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lets just make this simple.

Actually, I think a lot of it is that the change has occurred and it is not, now, still socially acceptable to stigmatize women for sleeping around while giving men a pass. Although some die-hards still desperately want it to be.

Even when it was, ‘socially acceptable’, it was not an equivalent to anyone accusing men or anyone else of being childish or immature.

It isn’t all the same, it’s not tit for tat equality of name calling or foolishness.

hij (profile) says:

this is not click bait?

Wait a second. Are you telling me that my getting excited because it is nearly Friday night, and my reading up on the latest juicy judicial writings on the latest patent litigation so that I can be prepared at tonight’s raving intellectual property party is not the most popular thing thing in the world? Weird. Why do I have to read here that I am odd? It seems I really do get all the important news here. You hypocritical bastards.

Havok091 (profile) says:

Great writing

Created an account (after lurking for several years) just to comment on this article, future articles, and hopefully contribute to the community. You’ve already got my clicks.

This is one of my favorite sites as a techie legal nerd and I’ll be dammed if I can’t recognize that a lot of what was mentioned in this post is exactly why I return time and time again.

DCL says:

The ongoing conversation

I have been reading this site daily for almost a decade and will say I appreciate the overall desire for the site to be a stepping stone for starting the conversation and not just be after a flighty page visit.

That said.. I do find the article headlines here to be a bit sensationalist. I have come to the point where I avoid any headline with the word slams, amazing, demolishes, destroys (if not a building) and there have been a few here lately.

I have seen a variety and range of ‘styles’ from provoking to just outright vilifying and slandering (not in legal sense). During the last election it was pretty bad at times.

But those examples are only a small part of the trend and overall I do use this site and the comments to better understand alternate points of view and not just the drivel that comes out of most sites.

Keep up the good fight TechDirt!

JCHP says:

Thank you

Thank you for this.

Personally, I just care about the ethics in game journalism and the looming soft censorship that will come out of letting the “cultural critics” shame devs into not making games with “inappropriate content” or people buying them because “games make you sexist”. I also have a problem with the identity assassination being perpetrated by the same people we accuse of being unethical (surprise, surprise) which goes over the top when it comes to Gamergate’s sister hashtag, NotYourShield (created by a black man to tell the people using them as a shield that they have their own thoughts and agency and thus, were not to be their shield).

Yes, they’re trying and no, I don’t care that people make critique, as long as it isn’t trying to sell me faulty conclusions based on non-existent data.

Jack Thompson didn’t have *credible* data in regards to violence and these “cultural critics” don’t have it in regards to sexism. The last time they were allowed to run amok in an industry, they pretty much killed all innovation in it (comic books, for those unaware, which started with Wertham).

On the harassment, I see no concrete evidence of GG harassing (as per the legal definition) but loads of anti-GG saying some very horrible things (members of the gaming press included, Leigh Alexander’s words over the years have been nothing short of extremely racist to exceptionally insulting), to the point where there’s a rather large tumblr dedicated to it (

Doesn’t help that this is what normally happens in interactions with neutrals in this debate ( “Pro Vs Anti GamerGate – Two Interviews”). This is my parting shot.

Anonymous Coward says:

The monetization hamster wheel

I think the “hamster wheel” metaphor is particularly apt.

I can no longer even estimate the number of times I’ve seen the same content repackaged through a monetization platform, whether it’s a cute video or a partisan polemic.

If even a tenth of the effort that is going into shaving nickels off of Internet traffic was instead going to new content creation, we’d be swimming in content, and the world would be a better place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Spot the typo...

“after we’ve had a chance to let things sink it.”

As for the article, I’ve seen a couple of others that attempted to do what you’ve done here, but the comments on them tended to get taken over by people looking for a platform to spew their opinion on GG.

Thanks everyone for keeping it clean (so far) 🙂

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s a Twitter hashtag that has become a clusterfuck of people protesting about gaming journalism.

Regardless of the viewpoints in it, it’s a lot to slog through and in order to unwind it would take a bit of time on an article that’s not really about it.

It’s best to talk to people involved who can bring you up to speed if you have a Twitter account while also understanding that seeing through the bias of either side requires research and study.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Gamergate is a hashtag people use (also an extremely amorphous “movement” organized around said hashtag) to talk about certain issues around video games. The hashtag was originally coined by actor Adam Baldwin to refer to allegations (ultimately determined to be false) that gamer developer Zoe Quinn had slept with games journalist Nathan Grayson in return for positive coverage. However, the hashtag quickly came to be used to discuss other issues around video games. On Twitter the hashtag is mostly used to talk about cultural issues around video games and less about corruption in games journalism.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Annnnd here comes the fights…

The hashtag was originally coined by actor Adam Baldwin to refer to allegations (ultimately determined to be false) that gamer developer Zoe Quinn had slept with games journalist Nathan Grayson in return for positive coverage.

1) The hashtag was changed to move away from discussion about Zoe Quinn but she moved to the new one to claim that it was harassment. Before this, people were using Quinngate and Quinnspiracy.

2) It’s now been found out that their relationship was far longer than Grayson let be known. Article

3) There’s far more to the story than is being told in your argument. Other stories of abuse paint a very negative picture of Zoe to the point that people are misinformed about her background. Issues of bullying and doxxing are alleged and form a picture of someone who abuses people while having no one speak out against such issues.

4) The corruption uncovered is as follows:

A story about EA having a security hole that affected 40,000 customers was left untold. A whistleblower stepped forward

The GameJournoPros list was uncovered which lead to the vindication of a story by Alistair Pinsof where the list was talking about how he was fired and blacklisted by people in the industry.

There are other successes, but most of the narrative has shifted into observing Gawker and its behavior and hypocrisies which it projects on the audience.

There’s a lot that happened in two months and perhaps one day the story can be told and chronicled. Sadly, that day is not today.

The Wicked Gamer says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The allegations were never found to be false as those are not the precise allegations!

And there was much more discovered that involved a lot of people! In any other sector they would have lost their jobs.

But instead they made money by trampling on small time devs & lying to their consumers.

Ruby says:

Re: Re:

What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks

And a bit more:

Sarkeesian driven out of home by online abuse and death threats

Yet another woman in gaming has been driven from her home by death threats
“Anita Sarkeesian…who was scheduled to speak at Utah State University this morning, was forced to cancel her speech after the director of the university’s Center for Women and Gender, among other people, received an email
threatening in gruesome detail a mass shooting if they didn’t cancel Sarkeesian’s appearance” (Apparently, this isn’t the first time something like that has happened.)

More recently, Felicia Day speaks out against Gamergate, gets doxxed

And, one final note: #GamerGate is an attack on ethical journalism

Alt0 (profile) says:

This is why I come here too!

No pretense
I know some of what I read here is opinion
Just happens to be (in many cases) an opinion I share
I honestly wondered when you would not do a piece on GG, and I am happy with what you came up with.
Its not really a freedom of speech issue, you can plainly read the drivel from either side all over social media, so not your thing there.
The death threats are interesting…but
until someone actually does shoot up someplace it would be giving attention where none is due. So smart decision staying out of the hate cycle which it has become. (altho the part where gamerSgate is getting threats is actually pretty funny.)

Thanks for the ever engaging commentary on the world of copyright IP and the other issues favored here. Its always an interesting read.
And thanks for not selling out what are at times unpopular opinions for a better rating in the numbers game of the internet. There are too few outlets of this type of journalism available to the average reader.
Thanks Mike
P.S.Here’s an insight on the whole GG thing, (Its all Google’s Fault! Just ask OOTB)

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Should Have Included A Link


You should have included just one pointer to the best article you have seen on Gamergate.

That way, if anyone was drawn here by that link-bait aspect, you could promptly send them to where they need to go.

Like me. I don’t have a fn clue what you’re not talking about. So I gotta go Google it now. I’ll have to read a couple of shitty link-bait articles before I find out why I should not care about Gamergate. And I’m serious about the above. Ugh. Off I go.

JCHP (profile) says:

Re: Should Have Included A Link

I can suggest a pair. and

I do enjoy this reading things by this particular author and she manages to be fairly neutral in her analysis of GG.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Should Have Included A Link

Like me. I don’t have a fn clue what you’re not talking about.

Me either. The only exposure I’ve had to this GamerGate thing is the bit of conversation that occurred in the Insiders Chat Box the other day.

Although, unlike you, I really don’t care enough about it to waste my time trying to find out why I should care about it.

DCL says:

Re: Re: Should Have Included A Link

Then give the “best” link of each opposing viewpoint and for good measure a link to the best “neutral” write up.

That way you are adding to the GG conversation instead of a being a dead end for it.

Personally I would like to know where I can find good opposing viewpoints on the subject.

JCHP says:

Re: Re: Re: Should Have Included A Link

I can point you towards one article with 2 interviews, one pro-GG, one anti-GG. But you’re not going to believe the anti-GG isn’t trolling, despite the rhetoric being exactly as shown.

Try going to /r/kotakuinaction (pro-GG) and asking questions while posing as anti-GG.

Then do the opposite, going to /r/gamerghazi (anti-GG) posing as a pro-GG.

I saw 4 people who did, all went from being on the fence to being pro-GG.

Luna (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Should Have Included A Link

This is extremely biased. /r/kotakuinaction is run by anti-feminists and mens rights activists, and is meant to be a propaganda machine. /r/gamerghazi is run by people who only want to make fun of the lunacy that comes out of gamergate. They are not equivalent and people making the comparison are being incredibly untruthful.

Ars Technica has covered gamergate since it was still just 4chan trying to ruin a woman’s life for existing, so there’s your “anti” view.

I think if you want to be really honest, for the truth of pro-GG, go to’s /gg/

JCHP (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Should Have Included A Link

Not really.
/r/gamerghazi is anti-GG.
/r/kotakuinaction is pro-GG.

Yes, it is that cut and dry, no matter how you wish to spin it. Both make fun of the other side’s lunacy. There’s still a huge difference in speech when you go to each of them while posing as belonging to the opposite side. Saying it isn’t so only makes me certain you don’t actually pay attention to what the dialogue is on both subreddits.

Feel free to go to 8chan. Go there and post a thread advocating doxxing or death threats and see yourself get shouted down with enough force to split atoms. Try to advocate bullying and get told to take yourself somewhere else.

In case you missed the developments, there is an acknowledged 3rd side (maybe even more) trying to play both pro and anti GG against each other, namely the SA Goons. They’ve been causing no small amount of havok and both sides are taking hits.

If you want to be really honest, go see the rhetoric on the subreddits. It IS the best example of how both sides have their discourse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Should Have Included A Link

There’s nothing to oppose.

It’s a neutral observational viewpoint which I personally think little can deny. Simply put, this article brings to light what kind of issues drive some media outlets to churn out clickbate articles…

In other words, I don’t think you’re going to find an opposing view point since there’s nothing to oppose. Unless you have some undying blind faith in everything that read no matter how many times it’s regurgitated: cough Kotaku cough

node (profile) says:

Re: Re: Should Have Included A Link

Writing about the subject without offending somebody has become almost impossible. Taking a neutral stance is simply not allowed any more.

This article (judging from the 50 or so comments so far) has done something quite remarkable actually; there is no army of zealots denouncing Techdirt for not supporting/condemning GamerGate yet.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Should Have Included A Link

If you really care about the issue, then you won’t rely on any single source anyway. You’ll want to read everything you can, from as wide a variety of viewpoints as possible. And particularly you’ll want to read the primary sources rather than the news articles that are interpreting the primary sources.

This applies to everything, not just GG. If you’re only reading reporting from a small number of sources, or sources that all have a similar slant, then you aren’t being properly informed about the issue.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Should Have Included A Link

That’s really the problem with all forms of journalism in general. It seems that we haven’t found a way to advance ways to report on the news with media outlets that seem more interested in controlling the facts instead of reporting them.

I believe you should be able to get a lot of news from a lot of sources and come to your own conclusions. Sadly, it seems that other people pick a side and stick to it regardless of how slanted the reporting can be, one way or another.

Anonymous Coward says:

A few comments to make on the journalism

One question about this method of “generating clicks in order increase ad revenue.” How is this different from using “eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers” from the yellow journalism of old?

There are a few publications that have clearly recognized that the hamster wheel chase of rewriting the identical story over and over again while adding nothing new is not worth it. It’s been great to see and I’ve been encouraged by some publications that have really focused on building a loyal audience through doing something different and providing more value.

If you haven’t done so already, put out some posts to highlight the progress made by either set of publications.

Anonymous Coward says:

First off I have no interest in gamergate. I made my decision based on what was happening a decade ago and figured out that game reviews had been poisoned by the gaming houses and would never be the same again. Trust was lost permanently over it and after all these years is unlikely to ever be regained. So for me gamergate doesn’t enter into the picture.

I find the point you’ve raised about it being over journalism the most interesting as it sort of follows my opinion on news in general, both physical as well as virtual places. Corporations have cut to the bone eliminating reporters doing the one thing they did well in the interest of profits. The drop in quality of reporting has resulted in my not going to most sites and certainly avoiding more MSM sources as just trash not worth wasting eyeball time over.

There’s a reason why politicians, police, and authority figures are getting away with the corruption and it is because it isn’t being called to task by the news. This is a sad observation over the conditions of meaningful news in today’s society. It’s getting to where it is hard to tell the difference between Russia, China, and the rest of the first world players. Change the name but the actions are getting closer and closer to the same things.

Journalism is the defense against such happenings and it is and has been failing us.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think you have it backwards…

Who wants to control the news, and why? I’d argue that this is a microcosm of events that Techdirt looks at in the macro. We’ve seen this same corruption in the mainstream media to the point that no one reports much on Google and their complete disregards for the bargaining abilities of workers.

It’s not that the police or politicians are turning this into a police state. They put their finger in the air and go where the sentiments take them.

Think about the needs of a community over the needs of someone outside of it. Essentially, on many levels, that’s what the fight is about. This lack of understanding is in the media reporting world from Fox to MSNBC to the point that they go to corporate sponsors over something a bit more neutral like BBC.

I’d also say that billionaires buying out news sources helps make this more apparent. If you’re owned by someone that doesn’t want reporting of fracking, what do you think would be your response if you found out?

Overall, this is a mess that took years to create and may take years to fix. Controlling the narrative in such a way can fail spectacularly once it no longer holds.

AC says:

Well played

I’ve been a Techdirt reader since before I was married 13 years ago. Partly that’s because I get a site that really talks about the interesting topics, and partly because those topics that do cross over with the mainstream consciousness offer a unique take.

Too many times I’ve searched for more information on a particular story, and all the results contain the same quotes, and are basically slightly re-written/syndicated/blatantly plagiarized versions of one poorly written article. But when Techdirt writes on a subject, I know I’ve found gold.

Thanks to Mike, Tim, Tim, and others. Keep up the good work.

Patrick says:

I’m not real sure but I think that Techdirt exists to help Mike’s real business. The comments and sometimes the trolls come up with ideas that he can use. I sometimes think that the trolls are there to get better comments out of the usual people that comment. I think the stories here are interesting enough that I have been a loyal reader for years. Keep it up Mike.

Krish (profile) says:

This is one of the very few blogs (not counting blogs of friends, flogs?) that I read consistently. There’s a reason for that and it’s not because I agree with everything that’s said here.

And it’s something (again, disclaimer above) we mostly try to avoid.

Want to confess? I’m curious what stories you were tempted into writing knowing that’d get you a flood of views? And did it work?

Ego te absolvo,

Anonymous Coward says:

The entire argument is nothing more than a bunch of self perpetuating nonsense that has been blown way beyond the threshold of insanity.

It’s mass insanity…

Not one publication questions why these ‘alleged’ victims didn’t simply block these ‘alleged’ perps’ on Twitter and instead chose to embrace the media attention. While the proponents, such as Kotaku, have not only continuously carried on the rhetoric (that all gamers/devs are misogynistic assholes because of a few bad apples) but have continued to post ads posing as news articles directly beside this controversial matter.

The hypocrisy is so far beyond the very definition of the word, that I think a new one is needed to describe those who are habitual hypocrites…

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

I don’t always agree with your ass ass, Mike, but you always make valid points despite what Average Joe had to say.

I’m very much pro-gamergate int he scheme of things, and I think you’re right. There are lot of outlets that use it as an excuse for clickbait, namely Gawker. Even the movement itself is mired in some ridiculous in-fighting, but I think ethics in journalism need to be a virtue all outlets aspire to.

I also agree and respect the fact that Techdirt does not cover stupid, dramatic subjects just for clicks.

Anyway, just wanted to show my appreciation for your work even if you are a stone cold hard ass.

By the way, I’m surprised you guys haven;t condemned Gawker for this crap, clickbait tends to be there MO.

Nic says:


Since you asked not to talk about GamerGate, I will only mention that I’m a GGer and discuss the issues with the media that you have raised without going on the ethics/harassment stuff.

I follow you because you cover a lot of interesting subjects, a few I don’t care for and some I disagree with, but there’s always plenty of researched commentary and it’s something I enjoy reading.

And this whole thing has really disillusioned me to the media in general. It’s one thing to hear how awful it has become, how everything is being ran with click-baiting in mind, how the media just runs news parroting viewpoints they hear from other medias and with no one (or almost) doing their own research… and not cherrypick and only mention what fits your ideology and ignore everything else.
But it’s truly quite another to live it. What an eye-opener this has been for me.

A lot of media organizations I respected have truly disappointed me with the one-sided commentary. Like, I don’t care if you don’t agree with me on everything but there are sides to most stories and if you ignore that, you cannot do journalism right.

I’ve learned a lesson of a lifetime here. Gawker has truly and completely horrified me. I cannot believe I used to view them the “tabloid” calls as unfair since some were pretty nice to read (At Ars Technica anyway). And I so get it now. Who the fuck insults its own advertisers to score political points?

And to me, this also goes back to the problem of the 24/7 news networks that are manufacturing controversies, blowing everything out of proportion. Like, seriously, it floored me to see Fox News properly cover Ebola without doing a collective freak-out. If we want to fix that, this ‘you can lie in the news without consequences ” laws have to go. They have to go.

simality (profile) says:

A Historical Perspective

What you are writing about is really nothing new. Metrics have driven journalism throughout the history of the industry. Before there were pageviews, there were Neilson Ratings and circulation numbers. What we now call comments used to be referred to as “Letters to the Editor”.

Conflict and breathless coverage of non-issues have long dominated the headlines. The real problem with today’s media coverage is that there is no room or time for anything but headlines. Stories that would have run on the inside pages of a newspaper are now ignored because they aren’t worthy of the homepage and there is no where else to put them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: A Historical Perspective

This is true in general, but with television news there was a distinct point when it seriously went into the toilet. In the old days, the FCC used to require that stations devote a certain percentage of airtime to programming that was purely in the public interest. That’s what PSAs were all about. And also the news.

In those days, the news was just a relatively inexpensive way to log time that counted toward the public service requirement. It didn’t, and was never intended to, make money. When you think of the “golden age” of TV news — Howard Cronkite, etc., those are the days that you’re thinking of.

Then two things happened. A big, but relatively minor, thing was that the requirement for public service was eased dramatically. The other thing, and this is the biggie, was that CNN came around.

Until CNN, nobody really thought you could make money doing TV news. CNN showed how, and their method was adopted by every broadcast TV news outfit, and the cable news companies that came later. Their method resulted in a lot of nasty things — for instance, the news now had to be entertainment, because ratings were suddenly important.

The other big thing was that news could no longer broadcast things that would make them lose advertisers, and the opinions of shareholders were suddenly critical. So, TV news can no longer report a great number of things honestly.

thomkk (profile) says:

imbalance VS balance ??

To name a thing that happens every second I draw breath as spin is an accurate description of the communication process. Of course, it is also a derogatory rhetorical device designed to support the myth of the mono-truth through decrying its absence from the spun article.

In another kind of truth, whether I am reading Shakespeare, TEchDirt, or an article on the entropics of redundancies in old data, I am interpreting, parsing, ignoring, mis-apprehending, mis-understanding, and, very occasionally arriving somewhere near the field the author intended to communicate to me, their reader/interpreter.

Briefly, I appreciate bias. And I appreciate sentient bias most of all, because it is easier to navigate the field being structured by the author in relation to my own prejudices.

Most articles that I read in TEchDirt fall into the above category, and that is why I read this blog. It does not pretend to do other than gather diverse, considered opinions. Naturally, there is political bias in the selection of authors. It is perhaps difficult to host someone you consider to be a total dickhead.

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