Ethics and Paradigm Maintenance

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I have a BA in journalism and though I rarely contribute content to newspapers these days, I couldn’t help but focus on the journalism aspects of our studies these weeks. This week I chose to write about an article titled The Gamergate Controversy and Journalistic Paradigm maintenance, which can be accessed through the Auraria Library for UC Denver students.

GG was a defining moment in gaming journalism where, outside of all the nasty business that consumed much of focus, the majority of the gaming journalism community made a decision to align itself with traditional journalism as a means of paradigm maintenance (Perreault & Voss, 2016).

The authors compare gaming journalism to lifestyle journalism, which I think is fair. As is stated in the article, the main concerns regarding journalism ethics were “that gaming journalists were not transparent about their personal and professional connections to game developers, that gaming journalists were pushing a social justice agenda (Goodchild, 2014a), that academics involved in the Digital Games Research Association were conspiring with journalists to shift the agenda (Chess and Shaw, 2015; Goodchild, 2014a), and that gaming journalists on a private mailing list were colluding to shape game coverage (Goodchild, 2014a),” (Perreault & Voss, 2016).

Another piece worth mentioning is the ethical standards regarding relationships between reporters and the companies/designers of the games being covered and what they are willing to receive from those entities.

For example, I remember taking a course on ethics in journalism. I had a great professor, someone that I genuinely respect. We learned that you never take something offered to you from a source. His exception was a drink. I remember him saying something along the lines of, “if you can consume it in 24 hours, then it’s fair game.” Many journalists would disagree even about a drink. I know journalists that won’t even accept a bottle of water from someone they are interviewing.

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If game journalists are accepting anything outside of an advance copy of a game for review or something that is completely necessary for them to understand the game, they are acting unethically and should be held accountable by their publisher. If a game journalist has any kind of relationship beyond that of a reporter and a source, they should not handle coverage for those stories or at least include a disclaimer in the story.

Another example, I did a radio story on house concerts in Boulder with my wife some years ago. One of the sources I wanted to use was a friend of mine. To get around any ethical entanglements, I asked my wife (who was at the time my girlfriend and had never met this friend) to do the interview. I didn’t know what questions she was going to ask. I had no control of it, and she edited the audio story so that I wouldn’t have to worry about how the interview was used.  And this wasn’t hard news.  There were other times that I had to go out of my way to pay my portion of the bill at a restaurant, coffee house, or bar where I was meeting a source.

Ethics are worth talking about, and it’s what I chose to focus on here.

Beyond my anecdotal examples of journalism ethics in discussing the article this week, I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s work and would highly recommend reading it as it delves into much, much more than I cover here.

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