Disclosure: I am Pro-GamerGate.
Before I tell you about what went on, I want to tell those who don’t know what SPJ Airplay is about it. Airplay is an event where journalists talk about ethical issues and related topics during panels. They usually have a few people on each panel and discuss it for an hour or two. During this Michael Koretzky, who also took the initiative and personally invited Gamergate representatives to the debate, took charge by moderating the debate.
During the first panel, there was supposed to be 5 instances discussed about games journalists being unethical while writing various articles. One of the issues though was that they only managed to go through three of them during the first panel, which has to be my biggest criticism. A lot of the time was used not to discuss these topics, but rather talk about other irrelevant, or only tangentially related, issues. The participants of the first panel were Ashe Schow, Allum Bokari, and Mark Ceb representing GamerGate. The neutral parties consisted of Derek Smart, Lynn Walsh, and Ren LaForme.
You can check out the morning panel here:
They opened up with explaining what Gamergate was and the problems with games media that it discovered. The first 15 minutes went to explaining the inception of Gamergate and what is actually represents. That lasted about 20 minutes of the panel. After the introduction they went on with the first of the 5 examples.
The first story Ashe Schow talked about was Rolling Stones infamous false rape story “A Rape On Campus”, she then compared it to the Max Temkin story on Kotaku. Where they didn’t interview the woman who accused him, but they nevertheless repeated said accusations, Accusations as in plural, when there only was one. Patricia Hernandez wrote this particular story. This is what the first case was, and the matter didn’t improve when Gawker made a similar story later. If you want to see what kind of a writer Patricia Hernandez is, you can check out her page on deepfreeze.it
Lynn Walsh made the case that you should not take down the article, but correct it. The story was rushed and not fact checked by Stephen Totillo. She also talked about standards that Kotaku did not follow in this instance. Koretzky also talked about an email exchange from Totillo, where he explained that GamerGate and corrections in articles is “too toxic” in his own words. Similar notions were also explored in his interview with Totalbiscuit from last year.
At the 53:00 minute mark Paolo Munoz takes the microphone. He talks about why people in GamerGate are anonymous and that taking Gawker lightly is wrong. He does mention that gamers have been labeled misogynists, harassers and various other unsavoury labels, especially during the last year from games journalists. The second instance is also about Patricia Hernandez covering her roommate, around the 57 minute mark. She did not disclose her relationship to this person before GamerGate got involved. Totillo even admitted again, that this was wrong and this came after the ethics update. This is what Lynn Walsh had to say about conflict of interests regarding gaming journalism.
An hour and 5 minutes into the stream, Ren LaForme confirms this is unethical. When Allum Bokhari does a follow up question where Vox media claimed GamerGate had not uncovered any unethical instances, he said they were wrong.
This is what the email from Totillo to Koretzky said to give you some context:
“Patricia had messed up in writing about former friends and housemates without always acknowledging that they were former friends and housemates. She thought some of it was obvious and in other cases didn’t think it was relevant. Her passion for covering interesting games big and small should be obvious to anyone who regularly reads Kotaku, and I don’t think at all that she was ever plugging work that she didn’t think was cool. But disclosure is good to ward off even the appearance of impropriety. That’s why back in August after I tweeted about my standards for disclosure, basically If you think readers would want to know how you know a person, you should tell them… And after people dug through her entire Twitter history to raise questions about people she tweeted with, we then applied updates to some of the articles she’d written. Mind you, Patricia is someone who has been harassed by people who don’t like her work and spread fake articles to discredit her. She’s had to deal with a lot of bullshit along the way, all the while writing some the best and most interesting stories about games month in and month out.”
Gamespot also was a topic during the discussion, on how the site fired Jeff Gerstmann in 2007 because he gave Kane & Lynch: Dead Men a bad review. Because of the ad money that the publisher gave the site, Gamespot decided to fire him, touching off an internet firestorm. Many credit that for being the opening shot of gamer gate, for bringing ethical issues to the forefront of games media for the first time.
This has been Part 1 of a multi-part series.