Media Literacy and Game News



hello and welcome to super bunny hop we're just like you I also wanted to be a video game journalist for a few weeks when I was 16 years old but I stuck with it and one thing led to another yada yada yada and now I'm here hello and welcome to super bunny huh hmm guess what also happened when I was 16 I discovered 4chan and I barely made it out of that phase with an ounce of self esteem and social skills intact and that's only gonna get worse for kids who have to grow up with those kinds of forums at younger ages so I want to jump right straight into this topic with a few tips that I don't want those kids skipping past here's tip number one the story is dry all the pieces we can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like sources follow the sources when you read a news story always look out for links embedded in the text or listed on the bottom pointing you to what the reporters primary sources without that you need to be aware that you're basically reading a game of telephone involving a secondary source and if they decided not to put those links there may be question why primary sources are what the reporters get their info from secondary sources are the reporters themselves scroll down both simultaneously to get a bigger picture of the story you're reading for example this Rock Paper Shotgun story on a Chinese game publisher having their business license revote for publishing a game that government considered offensive what's their source Twitter oh wait whose Twitter okay one of the founders of a publisher with offices in Hong Kong and Taiwan looks like some kind of official paperwork but I can't read Chinese guess I'll have to take their word for it right wrong google it seriously oh my god just google it google for several sources several who can cover the story from different perspectives with different sources corroborating different details on the flipside if you've been hearing something that you're googling and you don't see a lot of media coverage on it and maybe start questioning why for our example there's a lot more gaming sites that are reposting almost the same stuff from that Twitter from earlier but here's a different one that oh holy crap this time we got a translation this time we got a link to a Chinese site hosting the Chinese paper work itself we got clarifying quotes from additional people and wait a minute how they manage all that when the usual english-language game sites couldn't check the byline the headlines the title of a news story the byline is the author and many times that can be just as important turns out in this case Josh Yi would be a specialist for this kind of story he's a reporter based in Hong Kong who actually can speak Chinese and has prior experience working on a print newspaper over there so guess that explains that huh these are habits that were drilled into me from journalism school and eight years later I have not been able to break those habits nor would I want to I do all of that almost every time I hear about anything interesting going on on the including as of last night the DNA content of gamer girl bathwater some of you might consider that to just be a bunch of extra steps for media consumption but for me it's a fairly automatic process it eventually became easy and I do feel that the total effort of those steps ultimately adds up to a faster more efficient way of understanding what's happening on all these new sites and how my brain is attempting to use that news and their sources to understand what's happening in the world outside of my own limited flawed perspective that is media literacy oh god why am I about to do this media literacy is the ability to access analyze evaluate and create media in a variety of forms literacy being the ability to read and media being the plural form for medium the substance regarded as the means of transmission media refers to damn near anything that's intended to communicate a message even going back to ancient times stories that were passed down orally or chiseled onto stone or handwritten on to papyrus would have still counted as their version of a prototypical media just like now the distribution of those stories help to define and shape their cultures as well as strengthen the authority of their kings and emperors and monarchs but the media history more relevant to us today really begins with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1440 the event that put literacy and the tools for media creation into the hands of the common people this dominos into the proliferation of the first newspapers for the public during the 1600s and 1700s most notably among the firestarters of the American and French Revolutions learning how to read this stuff for the first time would have made a peasant feel like a prince which is why you can't have a fair democracy without freedom of the press where reg left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter but what counts as news back in the day newspaper editors had to carefully pick and choose what they would include on the limited space of a sheet of paper and they developed a kind of quasi mathematical formula for calculating newsworthiness news is newly received or noteworthy information news worthiness determines whether or not that information should be included in the newspaper news worthiness is calculated by adding up five different variables first is timeliness how new that news where the information is proximity is how local how close the news hits to its intended audiences community conflict and controversy is how much the information highlights problems happening within that community human interest determines how much the story highlights noteworthy or interesting individual humans in that story and last but not least relevance is how useful the information is to its intended audience if you've ever heard complaints over how negative the news is that formula is why journalists are taught to seek out negativity so that they can shine a spotlight on problems existing that maybe should be solved and the minority of positive stories that do regularly get published are internally referred by this piece of jargon they call them human interest stories stories of people or animals doing admirable things in overcoming adversity those stories are human interest stories but then again despite how often you're gonna hear complaints over the dire straits and low quality of online video game journalism these days you gotta remember we've still advanced past the age of gaming magazines many of which were directly funded by the publishers and the console makers themselves plus I don't remember them really doing a lot with their news section back when the internet was slow and computers were expensive game magazines generally broke their content up into five categories between pages upon pages of ads you'd have letters to the editor written by readers editorial opinion essays usually written either by the editors or a guest insider from the industry previews and reviews written by staff writers and editors and a page or two of incredibly brief news snippets most of it not dug up from their own report but rewritten from press releases and other entertainment and financial news sources it was always a real change of pace to see so much more space dedicated to their own original news reporting during the e3 month exceptions to these rules exist edgy GM and PC Gamer always did strike me as a cut above the rest but I definitely feel like the bread and butter of this industry especially among the official console magazines did not check three of those newsworthiness boxes of course this stuff was relevant to game consumers who care about what's coming out and whether or not they'd like it the monthly release schedule kept it timely for game consumers but where the stories about the humans that made games and the problems they faced preview coverage was almost always positive interviews rarely challenged their subjects in exclusive preview arrangements were marketed as their version of a big shocking scoop negative reviews were really just about the worst problems they seemed ready to take a deep dive into and for that matter how did reviews and previews actually make for a better gaming community at the end of the day I don't exactly know how applicable proximity is to this case either these magazines were nationally distributed to a mainstream audience basically anyone who likes games and can read English but for online media we're operating without a fixed word count restriction and also without the more expensive overhead costs of printing and mailing out a bunch of glossy full-color pages and that formula has drastically changed with the transition to much more diverse online content we're gaming news websites publish quickly written low word count updates on the same breaking reports as everyone else on scandals and news stories that are relevant to smaller audiences as well as their own much much longer features an investigative expose z' and also news on non gaming topics like TV shows and comic books a practice I first remember being pushed by IGN almost 20 years ago they sure weren't subtle about it but don't just take it from me speaking of following your sources sources here is josh harmon editorial director for the soon to be relaunched online version of the former magazine electronic gaming monthly nowadays it's egm now so what are your daily duties like at a game blog versus a game magazine well so the pace is a lot different in a gaming blog when we were writing a gaming magazine it was very much that you had a specific deadline at the end of this process and you would think Oh what would be most interesting for us to do in this issue there's a lot of ideation that goes on in the early stage of that and you think okay what opportunities are coming up let's look at the release calendar let's look at events that we've been invited to that we might want to cover it's look at things we want to chase out proactively to reach out to these companies and see if we could set up interview opportunities and we still do this to some extent but there is a definite difference in cadence there is a lot more planning that goes on in terms of thinking what is this issue going to be what's the overall vision is there a theme we want to do for this issue what's the cover what can we put on those gonna complement the cover to make the issue make some sort of sense it's very much a creative collaborative process where you're sitting down swapping ideas there's a lot of sitting around in a meeting room talking about that sort of stuff when you're working on something that's daily there's usually a much greater emphasis on reacting to what's happened because so much of that whether you're talking about opinion writing whether you're talking about straight up news if you have a strong video component which we do not but there still needs to be some degree of aggressive topicality when your ideal lead time is functionally zero for any story it really changes structurally kind of the way that you think about those stuff that also brings to light some of the the economic and professional challenges that face pushing so much content out over such a short period of time can you speak very briefly about what the challenges are this is maybe some more of my historical daily duties we're not focusing as much for the relaunch of news and stuff but when I was trying to push that kind of volume that would allow us to compete with some of the more established some of the more larger sites with a larger online readership and a bigger history there it's a lot of the challenges that go into that or speed quality and pro lack of a better word like process right those are the three things that you have to manage at any given time one thing that you see nowadays that I don't remember seeing back then is the expose the the anonymously sourced investigative stories about things that that the advertising partners of those magazines wouldn't have exactly liked if you think I'm wrong please tell me I just I don't remember things like like Jason Schreyer expose is on crunch popping up back in those days there was not a lot of questions to be asked about the real world outside of video games as I remember it so yeah I think the easiest way to refer what you're saying is there is no real reporting that's a less flattering way of putting it I guess I don't think that's unfair because gaming magazines and this is obviously this is just me speaking as a reader of them I was involved in important in that process but they very much grew out of an enthusiast perspective you were there to look at the the next games and never coming out because that information wasn't readily available back then the service that provided when they first started was really valuable because it was the only way that you can learn about game but if we're also gonna be following some supplementary people who are our sources sources sources then don't just take it from me nor Josh Harman also take it from the super sleuth or Kotaku editor jason Schreyer my name is Jason Shire and I am a news editor at kakaku.com and I am also an author a couple years ago I published a book called blood sweat and pixels and I am working on my second book don't know if you could see it back there but it's back there what is the determinating processes what's the logic behind Kotaku when they publish a story on a non-gaming topic how how do they determine how much audience crossover is gonna be there and when when when did they pull the trigger yeah that's an interesting question so to go back in time I'm gonna give you a bit of a long-winded answer here cuz I have a lot of thoughts on this so back in 2012 when I first started I remember we would cover a lot of random things occasionally we would cover like a Star Wars trailer or a movie a piece of movie news there's something that one of our writers was interested in and everybody would respond saying stick to video games like what are you doing why are you posting this off-topic stuff it got to the point where we even created this tag called Kotaku core and if you didn't want to see anything not related to games you have to go to Kotaku core and that was like all game news for you right now today we've gotten to the point where every game site is covering non-stop deluge of entertainment news and kotaku is actually doing at the least like because we have our sister site io9 that covers all that comic book news like TV show news movie news we just don't do that as much will occasionally dabble with stuff and I'll get to that in a second but it's really really interesting to me and very funny to me to see like IGN GameSpot polygon all of our biggest competitors now just like doubling down on the entertainment news when at the time back in the day they would only be doing games and we'd be the only people doing it and now they're just like doing it way more than we are so it's been kind of a funny balance these days our policy is generally don't do we don't do like granular stuff because we have io9 and we want to let them handle it like we don't want to try too much on their territory but if it's something that a writer is personally interested in then there's a lot more leeway so for example my cuz I have a split screen co-host Kirk Hamilton and I love Game of Thrones and just know it inside and I want to talk about it constantly so we have been for the past couple years doing Game of Thrones recap podcast which will bet on Kotaku even though does nothing to do with video games but our listeners enjoy it and we are both interested in it so that's kind of our our guideline for it our is a writer personally interested in how did that model end up supporting exposes like yours though how did we translate speed and volume into these bigger longer pieces like the transition of BuzzFeed to BuzzFeed news I mean I don't think one just necessarily like lose the other like a site a website a good healthy website I think of it it's like a mutual fund trait or like a financial portfolio right I you have if you if you like doing okay and you want to spread out your money like if you want to be in a healthy financial state you're gonna put some of your money in CDs and some of your money in stocks and some of your money in bonds and you're gonna diversify with anything you always want to diversify your portfolio right I think a good healthy news website in any field is gonna be doing a mixture of like here is this post I wrote in 30 seconds that's about a funny thing that I saw here is some news that took me maybe 20 minutes to write up but it's like still news that is worth sharing with people and here is an investigation that took me many months of work and calling people and transcribing interviews and writing this out and editing it and getting through like getting it through the proper channels going through our lawyers so I really think that a good news institution and if you look at any even like the New York Times say they see this the same way it's like it's it's all about that balance and just like doing everything you can to make sure that you have a healthy website that serves as many people as possible yeah scroll through the usual suspects and you're likely to see a bunch of let's call them human interest stories here for now in BuzzFeed's case listicles celebrity gossip and comic relief pay the bills for BuzzFeed News where you'll find much longer much more serious journalism on much heavier problems because investigative journalism has traditionally always been subsidized in some way because it's traditionally not what catches most readers attention quickly and easily throughout most of media history serious journalism has never been able to pay the bills by itself the sad truth is that this has been the business dynamic for over a century going back to the age of yellow journalism when publications like Harper's Magazine would in the mid to late 1800's published dazzling or humorous illustrations and exciting fiction to fund investigative journalism that took months of interviewing and researching to put together journalism known for helping form the historical record of the American Civil War or for shining a decisive spotlight on the political corruption of the New York senator William emboss tweed and yet even though this era has its heroes this is also what I would consider to be the most unflattering chapter in American media history full of its most damning villains and damning quotes especially around the events concerning the sinking of the USS Maine in a port in Cuba which was at the time a Spanish colony and how this gradually escalated into the spanish-american war in the late 1890s nowadays many experts believe it's sunk because of an accidental coal fire but the newspapers of the time rushed to blame it on Spain and start a war summarised up by these quotes between Gilded Age newspaper mogul and Citizen Kane inspiration William Randolph Hearst whose descendants still owned a giant portion of the modern media we consume and an artist reporter he had working at the scene everything is quiet there is no trouble there will be no war I wish to return please remain you will furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the wall are a century earlier the press during the Revolutionary era they were as extreme and partisan as ever and founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson knew that they complained about it in private letters but the public quotes like the one I just read was lauding the freedom of the press they were aware that while scandals and extremism come and go freedom of the press did have an overall positive effect on society and that's why it should be preserved but a century later during the yellow journalism of the late 1800s we saw the development of media criticism more and more scholars were believing that maybe people had too much media and that maybe its influence wasn't a good thing after all and that maybe it was becoming too powerful so the race to sell newspapers under a more critical audience became a race to sell the most respectable newspaper which led to the creation of journalism awards journalism schools journalism ethics and journalism standards over the early 1900's these aren't laws but rather professional codes that well-educated accredited journalists are supposed to uphold and you can tell these aren't laws just by comparing the super boring dry TV news in Britain and Canada where there's more regulation with the exciting and ridiculous action news the US last November UNESCO commissioned the Canadian researcher to look into using these games for conflict resolution Haldar vaasi says video games have huge potential for this the interesting thing about video games is you make the decisions while you're playing and then you also have to deal with the consequences of your decision and that degree of immersion in in that process cognitively brings you much closer to the reality of the situation let me take you to Lincoln this is the oldest constituency seats in the entire country founded in 1263 and it is a labor gained from the Conservatives it's been pretty much a bellwether since what the October election of 74 toddler has had a very lucky escape up to being bowled over by an escaping kangaroo in the Australian city of Melbourne wildlife officers are attempting to snare the marsupial as it hopped around a suburban neighborhood when it broke free from the net there it goes then skipped around a corner knocking over a little boy boy follow their sources and you'll find as dry and boring a wellspring as ever The Associated Press is a not-for-profit newswire agency that's often the primary source of competing news networks themselves networks subscribe to services like the AAP for big figures to be the first to get access to breaking stories written in a kind of sanitized way deliberately designed to be as nonpartisan as possible made by highly paid highly trained journalists in the 1950s the AP style guide was developed to try and Whittle the English language of their reporters down to the most objective neutral language possible sticking to standards so strict that for financial news at least even an algorithm can do it that's terrifying if you see a very dry to the point probably very short news article sourced by Reuters or aap you're probably looking at what we in the business call the inverted pyramid which is supposed to be a dry boring list of objective neutral facts starting with the most important facts at the top of the article and the least important at the bottom hence the name of the inverted pyramid on your way down these facts should be answering the five W's of journalism who what when where and why in old newspapers and on your more local news sites the inverted pyramid is their bread and butter I went to journalism school at Georgia State University in 2011 when a lot of those classes were being taught by an old media editor who stressed saving space and sticking to ap style if you've noticed that my videos tend to run shorter than others and that my writing style tends to try as it might to convince complex ideas into his little words as possible that's where that comes from we don't give word counts our word counts are generally determined by the writer themselves and the writer will write whatever they feel necessary with a little bit of guidance from the editor along the way based on structure and experience and the size of the story etc etc but nobody's like nobodies ever like this should be X ember of words because we're not a newspaper we don't have to do that we don't have to think about word count at all and we rarely do that's extremely interesting oh my god yeah I was taught by people who worked at newspapers so yeah I am thinking in terms of correlating word counts with a time obligation and in a lot of cases that is how I would plan my days and it's weird to he do you just not feel that like is that not how your your brain thinks of writing and when you get it done no I never think about word counts I just think about like this is the story and when I'm done writing the story that's the story little 300 word blog posts on someone else's work being a publisher press release or a fan project or a news story some other source already broke is like anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours it still could be unpredictable if you're waiting on a quote for someone but overall not a lot of time in addition to the standard-issue inverted pyramid news article you'll also see much lengthier feature pieces cover stories and editorials that incorporate opinion alongside the cold hard facts and those typically take a lot longer to put out in 1996 the Society of Professional Journalists updated their ethics codes to include rules like seek truth and report it be accountable act independently and a new rule minimize harm ethical journalist should treat sources subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect and again these aren't laws this is a code of ethics it's idealism and that idealism is ultimately what steered a lot of young writers like myself towards journalism in the first place it's the idealism of somehow someway at some point in the future believing that people will eventually be able to make it factual objective account of the events that occur in this universe outside of the constrictions of culture and time and language is about uncovering the truth and using the truth to right wrongs and correct and justices and make the world a better place even if in some indirect way that something is benign in low-stakes is making for a slightly better gaming community but the career advice that I was hearing on my way out of college and into the job market was quite different from the path that I ended up taking around 2011 2012 I saw that a lot of aspiring game journalists were being told to instead get degrees in computer engineering or game design itself and then go on to write game journalism and that's going to affect the kind of content they put out in the style they stick to as well as it's worked out for me as lucky as I've gotten I still gotta admit that I don't know what the hell it means to call your engine with a rasterizer one of a journalist's greatest challenges is gonna be tackling topics that aren't their specializations and you especially see those problems pop up in science and tech reporting like I said no one's breaking the law by not sticking to spj code and we're all only human and don't have all the time in the world on the other hand publishing defamation is breaking the law and that's what the SP J's do no harm' rule is supposed to prevent libel is defamation of character that's written down and slander is defamation that's spoken in either case you have to be sued by the offended party for breaking these rules and whoever's suing you has to prove that a what he published wasn't true be that it was published with malicious intent and see that they were provably injured in some way by your statement which can include financial damages from lost business in the u.s. these laws vary state by state but most cases don't make it past a and B on the other hand in the UK defamation lawsuits have less to prove which spooked Eurogamer into editing an article they were being threatened by a libel suit with sparking the great doritos game journalism scandal of 2012 hopefully now you can spot why those problems happen and how differences in the style and approach of different journalists oftentimes do originate with the writers background their specializations their country of publication and their education and what's your educational and professional background like that eventually led you there to Kotaku um yes so I went to I was always interested in journalism growing up in high school and in college I went to college at NYU and did a bunch of journalism stuff there I was on the Washington Square and news there actually I was just talking to someone on Twitter and reminiscing someone asked me the other day if I was starstruck meeting Eiji Aonuma the producer of Zelda at e3 which I've done a few times right now and I was like to this person I actually interviewed Natalie Portman while I was in college on my college paper and I like growing up as a kid I had a crush on Natalie Portman like she was my celeb crush so getting to meet her and into interview her got me completely over being starstruck about anybody like so for me personally I don't have journalism training my academic background is in cultural anthropology but as I've kind of climbed the ranks got into tomorrow editorial stuff I feel like I have a responsibility to learn a lot more about practices on things like editorial editorial work fact-checking the things that journalists must do to make sure that there is a degree of quality there I pride myself on being very self-taught in that but I think to a good degree spending a lot of time thinking about that I think when you view yourself primarily as an entertainer and somebody who has a one-on-one connection with an audience there's a lot less awareness of that especially if you don't have the training or the background why do you think so many people read news articles and and attribute it to the publication itself like you'll oftentimes see angry comments looking at the juxtaposition between how two different authors working at the same publication will have two different opinions but that opinion will still be attributed within this section of the audience to the whole publication itself and is this the way we format news stories or is it is it an unbreakable aspect of human nature is there a way to fix this problem well I think you're right I think it is important if you're gonna become media literate to kind of pay attention into who the specific voices behind something but I think there are a few key reasons why people do kind of default to that I think one of them would be that we live in a world that's increasingly governed by brands right you don't oh yeah you the world as being a network of people that you're building up because that's that's too complicated right sociological theory says you can only like entertain like knowledge of any casual relationship with I think 150 people at any given time that's just we're not built for more than that so you start to lump people into buckets and when you're interacting with brands it's probably really difficult for somebody to keep track of a lot of people in a context that's oh there might be like 20 different people who have violence on egm or like 100 different people who have bylines on IGN like apart from the people that really stand out a lot of those people you're just going to naturally reduce the cogs of the machine because it's a lot easier to keep track of that stuff problems of skipping by lines and misinterpreting the methodology and intent behind media messages there's something I've noticed a lot more of in recent years especially now that people who are teenagers a few years ago Dearing let's say oh I don't know August 2014 are now growing up to become adults but media literacy also requires an understanding of not just the standards and ethics that serious journalists should hold themselves accountable to but also the sinister effects that money and cognitive bias have on it and that goes both ways both for writers and for readers all of that idealism all of the standards and ethics and professional codes clashes with the reality that media is just another product in a highly competitive market supported by other people's disposable income the race to sell newspapers was a race to the bottom and in many ways that really hasn't changed if anything it's been made far worse in the age of social media where anyone with any kind of internet connection can make media no matter their motives their funding or their education any social media post made by anyone still counts as them publishing a work of media here's another unflattering quote from the era of yellow journalism while revolutionaries from the century before were all gung-ho about how virtuous and wonderful newspapers are penny press mogul Benjamin Day the founder of the Sun said the object of this paper is to lay before the public at a price within the means of everyone all the news of the day and at the same time offering advantageous medium for advertisements that's how they were able to get it down to one penny the stuff that does so much to complicate our relationship with our media is both the stuff that makes the world go round and the biblical root of all evil the love of money the more of it you have the longer your life expectancy is scheduled to be hello everyone needs money to buy food so they don't starve to death so everything gets all sinister because of profit motives news media is traditionally funded by a trio of subscription sales and ad revenue and nowadays that ad revenue is a lot heavier of a portion and you also have cases were even highly-respected old guards like the Washington Post are getting a good deal of their funding not from you and me but from super wealthy private investors like the amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos the upside to advertisement supported media is that it can feel free for consumers but ultimately if a product feels free than you are the product being sold what you are giving up to consume this product is the time and brain space that could be used learning history or skills or critical thinking that is instead being used to store advertising impressions you may think you're immune to advertising but the numbers tell a different story advertising is a one hundred four billion dollar industry and that number keeps growing higher companies wouldn't be pouring increasingly more and more money into advertising if it didn't create a return on their investment so if the impression made by an add gradually worms its way into a purchasing decision on a subconscious level you don't even actively think about even if that process takes years and only indirectly results in just one single purchase that still means it's working do you know how Kotaku is able to do it what what kinds of advertising deals they're striking to be able to support this so that I think is a really interesting difference between what I do and someone like you do you does and I think you do excellent work George by the way I'm really impressed by the quality of the investigations I've seen you do but I think that's something that's a key difference between editorial traditional editorial site and a YouTube outlet is that the YouTube on the YouTube outlet you are reading the as you are dealing with the advertisements you are handling your business I don't know if you have business people as well but you are very heavily involved with that because you have to be because the the website of George Widman is you like this is your thing this is not an outlet the advantage of being part of a larger company like Kotaku is and like I am is that we have a pretty thick wall between our ad department at us so we have no idea what ads are getting I run a weekly podcast and I have no idea what ads are gonna run at the beginning of it or in the middle of it or whatever I don't know what ads are gonna be on our website every day I got a feeling that some of the the companies that we've pissed off over the years are probably not advertising with us but I fortunately am in a position where I don't have to care it's very very possible that someone from I don't know Ubisoft or Bethesda or whatever company that I've covered over the years EA most recently has called up our ad team and said hey what the fuck like why are you publishing that investigation about anthem like we're not gonna advertise with you anymore and maybe those sales people just tell them to fuck off or can I hope I can curse depending on whether or not YouTube's automatic a I can determine if you cursed will determine whether or not this video is advertiser friendly anyways that's funny oh that's so funny yeah it's hilarious it's it's all bright let me tell you what is their business strategy these days how does a GM now support itself versus GM the magazine so so you Jim now does run ads and then as I said before we also do that magazine for Walmart but the did you say it was a free magazine they're like they couldn't it is a free magazine but it does have ads in it okay okay obviously I am NOT managing the business for egm I have access to a budget that I used to get as much content as I can that I think is good in high quality is gonna help us move forward in an interesting way but my sense is that at some point there's going to have to be a decision that we make about how large of an audience do we want to have because I don't think that it's reasonable to say we're gonna try and build up to be the biggest gaming site in the world and I don't think that I would enjoy running the making biggest gaming site in the world so for a business strategy perspective what I'm thinking about in terms is relaunch and what we're talking about a lot is can we develop the sort of gaming site that would be the sort of thing that people care about passionately even if it's a smaller group and support in that way that we could build a sustainable audience sustainability is one of my huge goals and I don't know at this stage what that looks like in the future in terms of the money piece thankfully I'm in a situation right now where I don't have to worry about that right now what's become a big deal in recent years is crowdfunding asking the audience to financially support their media themselves but even this has its historical predecessors to public broadcasting stations traditionally support themselves with viewer oriented fundraising drives that programming and this programming is supported through pledges from viewers like you everything that you see on a screen or a piece of paper or here coming out of speakers required some kind of money to make at some point in the process which means that most often it's being done by people who already have money to spend on an audience they expect to have money to spend and that is kind of contradiction to the idealism the need for ads supported publications to support themselves by a clicks and view counts and on the flip side for crowd funded publications to pander to a loving audience of well-funded fans who are easily separated from the stuff they need to buy food with creates incentives that clash with the high-minded lofty ideology of spj journalism ethics which is why I would like to tell a tale of two editors so one of my great love's in life besides videogames excellent journalism and cheap beer is bicycling way way back long ago a whole different lifetime ago I worked at a local newspaper that had me covering the transportation beat particularly news on bicycle infrastructure projects being developed and said their boring town hall meetings about new bike lanes being constructed and the progress the city was making on their beltline trail project and eventually compiled it into this editorial titled could Atlanta be do Webster damn I don't know this this is why you should at least skim the damn thing before just jumping straight from the headlines to complaining in the comments section the one I rode was way milder and they didn't make does nearly drastic or daily changes at all with the body of the text but when this hit the stands that headline took me by surprise and when I asked one of the two editors I was working under I got a very flippant and kind of patronizing response I'm gonna paraphrase here because this happened like a decade ago and I don't remember the exact words but hey I saw the new headline what's what's that deal with New Amsterdam well we have to get people to read it for some reason not only should stuff like that not be happening but I didn't really buy his answer either joke's on him I'm a successful youtuber now that editor was a sort of let's call it a pragmatic personality they were under a lot of pressure from business people during meetings who were constantly pointing out how numbers and sales were down and the future wasn't looking bright and I could tell I attributed that attitude and that answer to that kind of stress the other editor I worked under is someone I owe a lot of my success to comparing these two personalities was just night and day this editor taught me how to get those quotes and that information in the first place this editor taught me how to be as polite as possible no matter how much stress I was under and how important that really is not just for your own professional image and reputation but also for getting your job done two sources are gonna be skeptical talking to personalities that rub them the wrong way and as the years have rolled into at least one decade so far I have indeed seen scandals and trends and extremism come and go while maintaining high standards and a positive reputation has kept me feeling a lot more secure in this job than than high view counts are ever gonna it's important to keep in mind that stress and deadlines can create assumptions and biases and even in the creation of this very video the best-selling author New York Times published Galaxie brain God king of game journalism Jason Schreyer noticed it happening you have published a whole hell of a lot of stories that focus more on the real world outside of the video game is in the journals facing the people that make them that have revitalized game journalism in general you've been published in the New York Times you wrote a best-selling book and based on the top you flatter me I appreciate it but based on the talk of the forums and the chat rooms I frequent how does it feel to be the currently most respected guy in game journalism I mean I don't think that's true and I think that I I wish that more people would acknowledge and recognize the hard work of so many of my talented colleagues from my fellow reporters who are doing incredible work every day from Sicilia dnesossi oh – Heather Alexandra and Geeta Jackson and Ethan gotcha everybody else that Kotaku is doing incredible work all the time I also would not know anything if not for Chris Kohler and Steven Chu tillow who basically as editors taught me everything I know and I'm just really proud of my entire team at Kakaako I've gotta say so well I appreciate the accolades nothing nothing we published would be possible without the entire site just like everybody on the site doing their job so I always hate it it always really when I see someone be like Jason you're the only worthwhile thing about Kotaku because it's like no we're a team we work together we collaborate on everything having multiple eyes on your project having that team of editors and writers who can become your fact-checkers is an asset I really really miss it's important to have someone else look at your work and I often don't get that opportunity the refer for the most part the vast majority of super bunnyhop is just being done by me by myself in addition to having less oversight there's also a lot of pressures that come from the jack-of-all-trades methodology of working as a youtuber I feel pretty confident and am pretty proud of my writing researching and interviewing but I sure wasn't trained for and know that I'm not as good at these other duties I've had to stumble and Bumble my way through figuring out along the way stuff like set assembly video and voice recording touching up video touching up audio business formation and payroll legal research search engine optimization social media management community management and moderation oh god why am I about to say this well god I'm painting a huge target on my back for this listen you guys only see the finished product here I've seen the behind the scenes of both worlds and this may be the imposter syndrome talking but because youtubers do not typically employ editors in fact checkers I do regard YouTube as the inferior product even though I have found that there is a lot more monies and opportunities to be made here on YouTube than in that other world I am held to far less standards of accountability for it and that does scare me I have a greater incentive to keep going and go down this path even though I'm held to lower standards having editors you disagree with who you have creative differences with is still better than having no editors at all should you trust the news I don't know it's complicated you're about to find out what a weird question that actually is in the beginning of the video I outlined three steps that I wrote to help make the news make more sense but if you want to be more official about it and follow the official steps from the official media scholars there's really about nine steps first up we have the five questions to always ask when consuming media courtesy of crash course courtesy of media scholar Renee Hobbes number one who created this message and what is its purpose check the byline who wrote it what's their reputation like and who is their target audience is this for a mainstream audience or a niche audience and also how much media do they release every single day that'll clue you into how much time they probably have to spend for polishing up each individual piece number two what techniques does it use to attract and hold attention number three what lifestyles values and points of view does it depict number four how might different people interpret this message such as people who might not be as invested as you or people who are different from you in terms of their economic Geographic or ethnic background imagine how your parents would regard the message or your friends or your dad's or your sons number five what is omitted or left out that's what you can find out by following their sources and googling for other sources next we have the four key qualities to look out for when evaluating media number one relevance does the info serve its purpose and to what degree number two accuracy how factual is it does it cite empirical evidence or just opinions or a mix of both number three bias try to distinguish if the author is slanting facts towards a particular view once again this is why reading more than one source is important so that you can get a diverse set of perspectives that form a more comprehensive vision of the whole thing number four reliability how trustworthy is the publisher or author based on their entirety of work look up how long the publications been around how many major stories they've broken in the past whether or not they've won journalism awards for it and if have a history of publishing Corrections and retractions if they do get something wrong and the last list I have for you is not necessarily steps to take but rather the reflexes your brain tends to make when confronted with new or challenging information you don't have to actively question to check for these so much as just passively keep in mind that they are awfully tempting mental shortcuts to take confirmation bias refers to how you can interpret new evidence as confirmation of your existing beliefs or theories false memories refers to recalling something that didn't happen or remembering it happening differently from the way it actually did the law of closure refers to how the brain tends to paint a complete picture when only fragmented chunks are visible and last but not least I want to throw in this John Barth quote that itself existed in several forms by several previous authors everyone is the hero of his own life story but Who am I kidding is 2019 I'm well aware that the current media landscape is about as coherent as a good Bethesda game launch two-thirds of adults have used social media for news and another survey found that 50% of their adults believe in at least one conspiracy theory and hell even if you don't believe in conspiracy theories you still can't trust the government anyway the audience the market the people have shown the credibility and reliability just do not matter like they used to if you want to see a perfect storm of how all these biases can combine to create these baffling late 2010s radicalization phenomenons that actually really aren't that baffling after you know you review and question the causes and the sources and the profit motives that social media companies have to immerse people in this shit then watch the Netflix documentary about the flat earth movement called behind the curve to see how isolating oneself in an online social environment that reinforces rather than questions all of those previous biases can add up to otherwise functional employable people devoting themselves to a completely ridiculous conspiracy theory are they so conspiratorial they actually believe in then it makes me worry about maybe things I believe in am I like another version of that but I know I'm not it also hit me when watching that documentary that there is something incredibly appealing about the process of learning a conspiracy theory it comes from the very natural human desire to try to explain the mysteries of the universe not only does the fiction of the Flat Earth conspiracy theory present an exciting plot with clear and justices and bad guys who have some tantalizing motive to work against society's best interests but it also fills in the gap to a modern world that is massively complicated a modern world that oftentimes seems beyond an individual's understanding and learning how complicated the world really is is education which does also come from questioning sources I mean the whole point of this video is how to be a better skeptic right you are the hero of your own story but in the grand scheme of things and the rest of society you're the same kind of human being as everyone else you're vulnerable to the same biases problems editorializing and shortcomings that you have probably seen in others and to fight all those temptations to become media literate instead take self-awareness it takes honesty to admit that I look ridiculous right now it's acknowledging that you probably don't know the unknowns to the story and maybe shouldn't start making assumptions lest you end up believing falsehoods or spreading this information yourself I realized that a lot of the appeal of the conspiracy theories comes from the thrill of thinking you're learning forbidden knowledge of professing taboo truths that mainstream society for elaborate conspiratorial reasons is not ready to accept a lot of the appeal comes from the thrill of questioning everything you've been told by society but if you're seriously gonna be questioning everything you're being told then why not start questioning everything you're being told about the conspiracy theories to

38 thoughts on “Media Literacy and Game News”

  1. I knew a music journalist. She also wrote reviews, including for albums of the band her boyfriend was in. The website she wrote for did not know that one of the members was her boyfriend. I saw a conflict of interest, she denied it and said, if at all, she would be more critical. I did not think it was okay and that this at least potential conflict of interest should be made clear to the reader. She never talked to me again after this.

  2. Yea but why should I do all this work when I can just believe the source that confirms my existing prejudices?

  3. Modern "Journalism" is so depressingly bad. Only in modern day would the gaming press be full of people that don't know anything about games and also don't even like games.

  4. i was raised by journalists so i'm glad i was tought to critically analyse all media from a very early age… we were tought it in school but not enough imo

  5. Great touch on the conspiracy theories at the end. No one really knows everything you're doing to make a YouTube video happen but I appreciate it dude. You've carved your own niche for yourself and I think that's honestly more impressive than anything else. Keep upholding those standards for other people and more will follow!

  6. Polygon & Kotaku are more allies than competitors.
    Buzzfeed I never trusted. Before they went political, they already had a long history of turning sponsored shopping lists & stolen animated gifs into "articles", stole a lot of their content from Cracked, & recycle their own content 3 times a year. A tradition that continues to this day.

  7. The magazines were the "toilet mobile games" of their day. You'd stay in there even longer, then finish reading in bed before falling asleep. Every bit as nostalgic as the full experience of renting videos after reading the back of the boxes for half an hour.

  8. Kotaku is pretty terrible, though. Even though it has some decent articles, the editors are also responsible for allowing all the attack articles on Max Temkin and the like.

  9. Facts must exist in a constellation of other facts. If not it's probably BS. A reason why most conspiracy theories are so stupid. Fun yes, but still stupid. Always look forward to these essays. Quality over quantity. We need a Howard Biel of the game industry.

  10. I hate to do this to you George, and you might already know about it, but 26:21 I think should be spelled character

  11. George, you should do an episode about how the game industry do(esn't) preserve it's own history.

    I was watching other channel one of these days (or reading an article, I don't remember) about the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII and why Square Enix took this much time to make this remaster, simply because the source code of the game was lost. And then the video/text gone on how many famous games suffer similar problems: Silent Hill 2/3 remaster for the same reason, Earthbound wasn't realeased on the Virtual Console until recently because of legal issues, and there's a plenty of games that you're unable to play nowadays for similar reasons: P.T., Legend of Korra, Scott Pilgrim vs The World… I think it would be a great topic to talk about.

  12. One sentence makes this almost futile:
    "Ain't nobody got time for that".

    People just want cool headlines that make them either super pissed, validate some biased opinion they have or let them roll around in "Schadenfreude" (look it up, it's German).

    Nobody cares if the story is true as long as it's "plausible" to them and fills some emotional need.

  13. I feel like Kotaku should hire George to work on videos for the outlet. He'd get the perks of working alongside other journalists and video makers and have to deal with less bs from Youtube surrounding monetization

  14. I love this channel so much. Every video is genuinely a solid contribution to society. This stuff is great content that goes well beyond just entertainment value.

    Huge props, hope you all the success in the world and as little stress as possible haha.

  15. In Europe, where I live, I feel that most, if not all news is delivered in a very biased way. This has led me to not trust mainstream media or traditional journalists anymore.

  16. 20:43 minor correction in that Sky is UK-based, and the particular presenter seems to have been British.

  17. I see you've got the classic copy paste error at 26:22 😛 Charachter

    Got that UHF clip in there 😀 Good ol' Weird Al

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