“We're All Journalists Now”
The "bloggers versus the gaming press" debate still lumbers on, despite years of discussion. The matter has now become more complex, due to the popularity of live streaming and You Tube personalities. Ultimately, this entire matter is a subset of the larger argument regarding citizen journalism and its conflict with the fourth estate. I recently read Scott Gant’s book We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age which explores this very matter in-depth. The author has a very interesting attitude toward the democratisation of journalism, which he expresses eloquently. Many of the points that he makes are directly applicable to other fields of journalism and are not exclusive to traditional “news”.
I am still of the opinion that professional and amateur writers complement each other and can be of equal value to the community. This is especially true of gaming related writing. Conventional game news informs and promotes across a broad spectrum of content. Amateur and fan blogs provide subjective detail and a greater degree of depth on the issues. As a gamer, ensuring that you have a mix of commercial sites and blogs in your feed reader, increases the likelihood of you being adequately informed. Obviously, blogs are not always subject to the same editorial scrutiny as professional writing. Thus, there can be issues regarding grammar and logical arguments. However, literary failings do not by default, invalidate an opinion or well-conceived idea. Conversely, working to a formalized style and standard of writing, as well as editorial guidelines can potentially remove eloquence or a writer’s style and replace it with uniformity. As for common sense and logical arguments, an editor and a team of writers can fail to observe these as equally as a single blogger. Thus, there is good and bad in both camps.
Until recently I had a substantial list of fan blogs that I read every day. Some regularly offered exceptionally good think pieces, comparable to professional journalism. Sadly, many of these writers have retired from the scene. There also seems to be a drop in long form writing and in-depth analysis among many of the commercial games news sites. It appears that both the pro and amateur writing scene has fallen victim to a malady that has spread across mainstream news. Namely, tribal, populist writing which eschews facts and data and instead slavishly retrofits content to support a specific mindset or agenda. Gaming has become very binary and entrenched, the same as politics. Bucking the trend can have consequences and subsequently many games bloggers have become tired of the toxic comments, twitter outrage and quit. The commercial sites often pick a side and thereafter pursue vociferously a specific ideological line. As with national newspapers, it leads to a partisan environment in which impartiality and logical debate do not thrive.
I still advocate the democratization of writing and publishing and do feel that “we’re all journalists now” to a degree. However, I also think that bloggers, streamers and You Tube personalities can also fall prey to the same failings of mainstream journalism. Commercial forces can impact heavily upon editorial decisions and shape the narratives in camps. We should not overlook other dubious motivations such as ego and “popularity” which can also have a negative effect upon content creation. Yet despite these issues, I still feel that the writings and musings of my peers is beneficial. I also think that collating daily gaming news is a daunting and unenviable task and am therefore grateful to the professional sites that aggregate such content. As for partisan, spurious and inflammatory games writing, we should reject it pointedly and publicly. Be it from professional outlets or from fans. If we want content of a higher caliber we should lead by example as well as demand it from others. Aim for the standard you wish to see elsewhere and it will be to the advantage of both "bloggers” and the “gaming press".