What IS and ISN’T Journalism

Journalism-Hat

Some of my articles for MMOs.com have come under fire for being “poor journalism” and “lacking journalistic integrity”. It’s a trend I’ve seen rising in gaming content comment sections ever since Gamergate put a spotlight on video game journalism in general. The problem is that 99% of these comments are ignorant derisive statements made by people who clearly don’t have a clue as to what IS and ISN’T journalism. As a fan and student of journalism for over 10 years, I feel compelled to at least attempt to educate the general public on this issue.

Most “Video Game Journalism” ISN’T Journalism

For something to constitute as journalism it needs to meet two major criteria:

  1. It has to disseminate (to spread or disperse) news.
  2. It has to be objective (impartial, i.e. not influenced by personal feelings or opinions).

Just because you see something in a newspaper or magazine doesn’t mean it’s journalistic. Editorials, columns, top 10 lists, Game of the Year articles, even reviews don’t really count as a part of journalism because they often don’t meet the basic criteria that makes something journalistic. That doesn’t mean they can’t be written as journalism – although a couple of the aforementioned items are non-journalistic by definition – it simply means you shouldn’t automatically assume they’re journalistic and hold them to the same level of factual objectivity.

Stop Confusing “Games Media” with “Games Journalism”

Yes, video game journalism exists, but most of what gamers consume is actually games media. Anytime you read an editorial or watch a games review, you’re experiencing games media. The creator, more often than not, isn’t trying to provide an objective view. He/she is usually looking to start a conversation about a particular game or topic while giving their own opinion on the subject.

The primary purpose of games media is to entertain video game fans while seeking to foster and continue discussion on gaming related topics. This can seem like journalism because timely topics are often brought up, but people in games media offer their views and opinions on the subjects they cover – which instantly disqualifies their talking points as journalistic in nature and why many of these people are often referred to as columnists, reviewers, personalities, or youtubers.

You Don’t Want Games Journalism

The truth of the matter is that journalism is too straight forward and boring for most people. When’s the last time you turned on CNN or read a newspaper? Did you find out Martin Schkreli was arrested from a news outlet or from it having two posts on the front page of Reddit (where you immediately upvoted and dove into the comments)?

Most people get their news from sources that aren’t journalistic in nature because those sources are more entertaining and offer more insight. General popularity is why games media exists in the first place.

Saying something is in poor journalistic taste when it isn’t even journalism to begin with only shows your own ignorance. It’s become a popular way for internet trolls to try to cut down and call into question a writer’s credibility when credibility has nothing to do with the subject or piece at hand.

It’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, but why ignorantly try to dismiss the subject entirely in lieu of having an intelligent conversation? Unfortunately, that’s just the day and age we live in, but at least now you have a basic understanding of what IS and ISN’T journalism.

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