Saturday, June 27, 2009
There was a news story recently where a student inserted a fake quote in a Wikipedia entry of Maurice Jarre right after his dead, and watched newspapers all over the world copy that fault. In the MMO blogosphere the biggest story on journalistic accuracy this year was the Ed Zitron review of Darkfall, which contained several factual errors, and gave the game a 2/10 rating after the reviewer only played the game for a few hours.
This week I made two factual errors on my blog. I quoted a story by Spinks, where she said Aion did not have auction houses, which happened to not be true. And I said Mortal Online was eBaying 999 limited editions, because it looked like that on the eBay page, and I hadn't read the Mortal Online newsletter saying only the first copy was auctioned off. Both of these mistakes have been fixed by A) admitting the mistake, and B) correcting it in the post.
Which, as you will find, is exactly what newspapers do with mistakes, only they don't have the luxury of being able to edit the already printed copy. So why is syncaine making a blog entry (which ironically contains several untruths) calling me an asshole for my misrepresentation? Why did some commenters try to derail those threads, attacking me for "misrepresentation", up to the point where I had to delete several comments to get the discussion back on track? Why did Ed Zitron get death threats and a "war declaration" on YouTube?
"Misrepresentation" and "journalistic standards" are the latest weapons of discreditation in the arsenal of those trying to oppress the opinions of others. In fact my blog is probably full of mistakes, starting from spelling errors to factual mistakes, because I never double-check my stories. But you will note that it is only ever the hardcore fans of certain games who complain about misrepresentation. My real crime is not that I wrote things without double-checking, my crime is that I have a negative opinion of Aion, Darkfall, and Mortal Online. Aion actually not so much, I'm just not enthusiastic about it. But I definitely think that both Darkfall and Mortal Online are worthless pieces of garbage designed for jerks who like to gank other players. That is a strong opinion, and a completely biased and subjective one. But it is that opinion syncaine calls me an asshole for, not my "journalistic standards". As I said, his post saying that also contains several untruths, but he is just making his defense of a bad game look pure like snowflakes by dragging journalistic standards and charitable donations into it.
My journalistic standards have not changed in 6 years of blogging, and they won't change anytime soon. I do not double-check news. If the source I am using is wrong or incomplete, I am likely to report the story wrong or incomplete. Yes, I could have done better if only I had found that developers post buried on page 7 of a long thread in a sub-forum of that game I don't play, but frankly, I can't be bothered looking for that. Because "truth" is not a goal of any blog, opinion is. If I make a mistake, and it is pointed out to me, I will correct that mistake, and always have done so. If, which is far more likely, my offense is having a different opinion from you, you're out of luck, and I won't "correct" that. I would have had no problems whatsoever with Ed Zitron's review if it had been a blog post, because it totally confirms to general blog journalistic standards.
And as other writers can maybe express themselves better than me, I'd like to close this post with a quote provided to me by a reader in a comment from the site disclaimer of blogger and SciFi writer John Scalzi:
Everything on the site is my opinion (except comments written by others, which are their opinions). I have strong opinions. At times, you may not agree with these opinions, or how I choose to express them. This is not my problem.
I make no claims as toward being even-handed, fair, or nice. I write what I want here. Your being offended is not a reason for me to stop writing as I choose.
I run this site as I please. You do not get a vote. If you try to suggest that you do, I may be rude to you.