Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
 
Are bloggers "press"?

Darren of Common Sense Gamer wants to know whether bloggers are press. I tend towards no. It is not as if a blog couldn't be as good as press, or even better. But a blog lacks mechanisms to guarantee anything. There is no guarantee of veracity, objectivity, style, type of content, not even continued existence. While journalists not always meet journalistic standards, at least some of them have been held responsible for those and fired. Who is going to fire me if I post something which would be totally unacceptable in any newspaper?

Having said that, being unpredictable and subjective can be an advantage for bloggers. The opinions and language you read in a blog will generally be more raw than the refined and edited style of real press. If you read a game review print magazine, you need to read between the lines and decode that 70% score, while in a blog you'll read that this game sucks and are being told exactly why. Just compare the blog coverage and the press coverage of Tabula Rasa, and tell me which one you think is "better".

But not having an editor, not being required to differentiate between news and opinion, and research being optional really disqualifies blogs from the press category. For some kind of news press is simply better suited than any blog. So I don't see myself being issued a press pass for anything anytime soon.
Comments:
If editors did their jobs I'd agree. But they don't. Look at the scandals plaguing The New Republic every few years.

As the major news media drops the ball on accountability, the more alternative media will pick it up.

The accountability in blogging doesn't come from some manager or editor with their own agenda, it comes from the readers and other blogs, constantly correcting each other and deconstructing each other's posts. The "firing" is when your readership declines after getting excoriated too many times.

Not all bloggers are what I'd consider press, but there are a lot that are.
 
I trust some blogs a hell of a lot more than the mainstream media. Really, though, it depends on the blog and the subject. The best course is never to rely on any one site for information or opinion.

As an example, for politics I read a variety of blogs that cross the political spectrum. The more important the subject, the more effort I make to hear all sides - within reason, of course.

Gaming is less important to me, so I'd probably take Tobold's word on it if he said that Pirates of the Burning Sea stunk or that crafting in LOTRO was broken, simply because I don't care enough to fact check those topics.
 
Well, the only opinion that matters is the one that the developers have. And there has recently been an outcry over how it was handled in the WAR beta. Apparently the people that run fansites aren't allowed into the closed beta due to being in part considered as press.

I'm not sure the whole discussion is in this thread, but it's a good place to start:
http://www.warhammeralliance.com/forums/showthread.php?p=425492#425492
 

MagrothJ said...

Well, the only opinion that matters is the one that the developers have.


Sounds like the design philosophy of Brad McQuaid, and we know how well that turned out )
 
Oh, and I forgot to add at the end there that while there is a difference between people that run fansites and bloggers it might not be enough to not be affected by that decision. Whether it was posted in that thread linked or another I'm not sure, but I distinctly remember one of the devs stating that the problem was that people in the closed beta easily become coloured by the experience then and based the reviews in part on that, and not just on the state that the game is in at open beta or release.
 
Sounds like the design philosophy of Brad McQuaid, and we know how well that turned out

The difference is that this isn't really a "design" philosophy. It's more a way of preventing more negative reviews than the game is deserved by having the "press" review the finished game, not the beta.

Take Tobold for example. He was in the TR beta and had his review (Or preview if you want to call it that.) finished long before the NDA was lifted. Just by that he had reviewed the game in a state that it wasn't intended to be shown to the public. I know he at least made one error in the preview by stating that you can clone the character at any point in the game. Had he been accepted into the beta after the NDA was lifted he would have known that there was now cloning credits. While that might not be a serious matter it's just an example of that it can actually bite the devs in their behind to allow people of the "press" in too early.

I can't say that I like the opinion, and I would like it even less if I was close to fall into the same category. However I must say that I see the point of having it that way.
 
I'd say some bloggers are definitely members of the press and some definitely aren't... The question would be how do you tell who should be treated like press and who shouldn't?

For that matter, should everyone who writes for a newspaper, magazine or newsletter be considered "press" too?

When people think of newspaper writers, I'm sure the papers they're thinking of are the ones in their city or the nationally known (NY Times, etc.). But, there are hundreds of tiny newspapers with only one or two dedicated news writers (possibly related / married to the editor), serving small towns or their entire county. Would some responsible bloggers (some who do come from a journalism background), who post retractions, correct their mistakes, etc. be considered to be press at least as much as someone writing for a mom and pop operation like some of the small town papers?
 
not being required to differentiate between news and opinion, and research being optional really disqualifies blogs from the press category

That knocks out a lot of newspapers and magazines, and that is even before the question of whether you are doing the research right.
 
Maybe I should clarify that one. If I read a story about Second Life in the newspaper or Time Magazine, I expect to find at least two glaring errors, at least one of which will relate to how many people are "players." If I saw something like that here, I would be shocked.

Now apply that to every possible content area. If you have first-hand knowledge about a story's subject, odds are you can see multiple errors in the reporting.

And yet, for some reason, I still forget this when I turn the page and read the next story.
 
As an editor I whole-heartedly agree with the comment about editors. They've lost the ability to simply EDIT much less require fact-checking and any level of ethical standard.

At the same time, I know of several bloggers that hold themselves to standards far higher than the mediocrity of "journalism" on the internet.

Tobold, I was able to convince the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism that YOUR blog was an academic resource when doing research on MMOs. The reason? There simply are few resources that span the time yours does or are as consistent.

I don't think it's a questions of Blogs = yes/no. It's a matter of person = yes/no.
 
I'm not saying that mine or other blogs can't be a good source of information. But real journalists enjoy privileges that bloggers don't, in "freedom of the press" rights and in access to events. I doubt the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism would write me a press pass that gives me access to "press only" events and presentations.

I am also not inherently objective. For example my coverage of games where I got a beta invite is more extensive, and often more favorable, than of games I never played. It would be rather easy to "bribe" me by simply sending me a beta invite and a special exception to the NDA, allowing me to write about the game. That is against journalistic ethics, even if game companies sending advance copies of games to game journalists happens all the time, and works the same way. But with me the game companies don't even try.
 
Tobold, I was able to convince the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism that YOUR blog was an academic resource when doing research on MMOs. The reason? There simply are few resources that span the time yours does or are as consistent.

This sums up the most powerful advantage of a common blog, over old form of media. Blogs just dominate the niche markets of information and if you want to serve within those, blogs can become your best tool.

One of the most brilliant things Blizzard did with WoW was the NDA free beta. You had gazillions of free writers creating a flawless buzz for the product, many of those with way more knowledge about the topic, than any gaming journalist could ever achieve.

To me bloggers are superior to certain topics, just as journalists are in others. We live in an age, were everybody can write to a worldwide audience. You have people within any business blogging about inside stuff before the company serves media outlets an official press release. The topic Tobold writes about is one of many good examples. Before company X releases a press release for their game's release being pushed back, you can read about it beforehand on certain blogs and forums. Gaming journalism is special, cause the best writers probably never attended journalism school. It's like users writing for users. You probably want an experienced gamer to write a review right? Certain topics demand experience within the field. Comparing political journalism with gaming is a little bogus. Every topic that demands heavy technical or methodcial knowledge is way better handled in the hands of fans and user, with years of experience, rather than thy guy attending journalism school and getting a topic handled to him, he never experienced before. Bloggers do not work under restrictions like old media is forced too. This can be a flaw and an advantage though.

Are bloggers press? If they carry the offical badge around their neck, they are. Press is a tool, just like bloggers.
 
bloggers = press.

a new kind of press, but press nonetheless. you publish stuff with your opinion, whether it's bad or good.

now the oldskool-press (newspaper-journalists and perhaps even tv-journalists) may have a problem with their box being ripped open by the internet/blogs but that is what press is all about. to open barriers where you normally cannot come. and now it happens bloggers even open the secret-box of journalism :)
 
One of the most brilliant things Blizzard did with WoW was the NDA free beta.

I knew WoW was going to be a smash hit the day that was announced. You're right, it was brilliant and ballsy and a wake up call to the industry that a changing of the guard was about to occur, as SOE stopped being relevant that day it happened.
 
in "freedom of the press" rights and in access to events. I doubt the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism would write me a press pass that gives me access to "press only" events and presentations.

I think this is putting the cart before the horse. Just because someone looks down on you doesn't mean that defines you. Potshot used the example of Thomas Paine. Nowdays, we certainly consider him part of the press, but when he was alive, many would have said he's just a loud-mouthed self-publisher.

Secondly, the fact is, many bloggers HAVE received press passes. Maybe not in the gaming industry, but certainly to political events. So this point is already a little out of date by a few years.

Thirdly, there have been a number of court decisions regarding blogs. Most notably the decision protected the website that leaked Apple info, saying they didn't have to provide sources and had a right to publish the secrets they found out, saying they were press.

People are going about this from a "prestige" angle, which is the wrong one. And this very elitism is what causes editors to be lax in fact-checking. The correct angle for the question is the law. For this I'd read The Volokh Conspiracy or other blogs about the media, the law, to get more information.
 
Certain topics demand experience within the field.

The truth is all topics do. We have grown accustomed to letting people who have no idea about an issue tell us what's going on, even if they don't put their opinions in.

Every time I read an article or watch a "news magazine" show on a topic i know anything about, I am astounded at the number of mistakes. Now just imagine that every single article written is full of all those same mistakes. We make fun of articles written about gaming, but it happens in every article about anything.

I think that's the big revolution blogs are bringing to journalism: instant fact checking by an army of experts. Maybe this is more important than are bloggers conducting first-hand fact gathering.
 
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