Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
The Changing Face of Journalism: How We Will Meet the Challenge

John Keefer | 25 Sep 2014 15:45
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There is also talk about why certain stories are covered and others may not be. I do not have an agenda for or against various political topics that are sparking controversy. The goal at The Escapist is to provide the most interesting and insightful content to gamers that we can -- and not everyone will agree with our choices. When it comes to hard, investigative news, a lot of it has to do with what is actually provable and what we can get comments on. "He said/She said" stories may be great to stir a pot or create controversy, but they prove nothing, just that there are two sides and "The Truth is Out There" ... somewhere. While we have been successful in places, that is not always the case. And personally, I hate incomplete stories or making mistakes in stories, even though it does happen despite due diligence. However, through the years, I feel I have gotten a good grasp of what is important and what is newsworthy. Those two do not always coincide. You may not always agree with me and what we cover, but that is my stance. It goes back to the issue of trust, and I hope this article is the first step.

I'm also big on transparency. I mentioned that when I worked at newspapers, each year we had to sign an ethics certification that basically made us swear to our employer that we had not received any gifts from any source of more than $25 (some places it was $50). The games industry is a different breed of animal, which caught me off guard when I started in 2000. Publisher junkets, gifts, and wining and dining were a lot more prevalent then than it is now. I rarely went on junkets, but the gifts could be crazy. I have received leather bomber jackets (yes, two), a set of chrome pistols that looked real but were actually cigarette lighters, personal organizers and even electronics. I have also received more t-shirts than I can count. When I got them, my first thought was "Why?" -- keep in mind my background. Did people really think my objectivity could be swayed because of cool promotional stuff? Speaking only for myself, I rarely kept anything I received because it didn't feel right. I did keep a bomber jacket and a personal organizer -- the portfolio type with a place for pen, business cards and pad of paper -- and a few t-shirts - but that was it. To be honest, I can't remember anything elaborate I have gotten besides a t-shirt or collector's edition game since 2007. It's also why I agree with the disclosure policy of The Escapist. We note on reviews and previews if a game has been provided, or if we received travel accommodations. Conspiracy theory says we were influenced, but in practice I'm really not. I've always been a taco and motel guy and I don't drink, so anything extra seems stupid and excessive, but full disclosure goes a long way to mitigating any talk.

The last thing I want to discuss is community interaction. I am a lurker more than anything, but when I do participate, I believe in the golden rule. You treat people the way you want to be treated and be respectful. I rarely use Twitter as it is too volatile and I keep my Facebook private, but I do participate in forums for informational purposes and to answer questions. My picture is on my profile and I even use my real name. If we do ever interact, I will try to be respectful and courteous, as my actions reflect on The Escapist. I ask for the same respect and civility whether we agree or not. I also abhor harassment and threats (remember the cops as relatives?) so definitely don't go there.

So there it is. The gathering and reporting of news is different these days than it was in years past. Personally, I'm adapting, but a journalism code of ethics is indeed a noble goal for our industry. You have seen our company policy, and now you have a bit of perspective on me and the philosophy behind The Escapist's news. Whether you agree or disagree, I hope you can respect the effort and appreciate my attempt at transparency and accountability.

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