The Aftermath Of SPJ Airplay Part 2

The second panel was in the afternoon and had new participants compared to the first GamerGate panel. The new panelists from Gamergate were Milo Yiannopoulos, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Cathy Young. The returning panelists from the earlier panel were Derek Smart, Lynn Walsh, and Ren LaForme. Koretzky started off with saying that there had been a bomb threat before the panel even started, so anyone that wanted to leave would be welcome to leave. That should tell you something about someone not wanting this discussion to be had.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nck57J7GcsI

They started with a short introduction of each new panel member and who they were. Koretzky made it clear that there were no topics and no script to follow. The only thing they were going to talk about was the online movement of GamerGate. Milo started of by mentioning the failings of journalism as a whole the first few minutes. Christina Hoff Sommers mentioned an interesting tweet when she got to talk about a lesbian woman who wrote “I fucking swear, they get rid of big boobs. I am gone.” Christina said that this was a perfect example of GamerGate. She pointed out that all of the media, including the Law & Order: SVU episode, has done nothing but vilify gamers as whole. She also talked about how gamers sent her warm messages after the passing of her husband. She is also known to be called “Based Mom” in GamerGate, which means that  you don’t care what other people think of you and that you are very grounded. She essentially based things on facts and logic, and didn’t really care about what critics would say.

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Cathy Young also mentioned that the whole narrative that #Gamergate is a hate movement was totally wrong. She even mentioned that men in general get harassed more compared to women, according to some studies. She does go on, but gets interrupted by Koretzky that this has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Milo does reply with that they are setting up the picture of how we got to the point where we are today, the corruption and unethical behaviour goes hand-in-hand with the ideology. Koretzky doesn’t think that this has anything to do with the topic at hand however as he continues to interrupt several times when the pro-GamerGate panelists are talking about the subject.

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Koretzky asks how journalists should cover online movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #GamerGate. Milo answers simply by saying you that you do your job. Koretzky does ask him what what his articles on Breitbart are, if they are news or opinion. Milo does say that he does both and that in his book he interviewed 200 people and got a broad look at what people want and do within #Gamergate. Koretzky also asks how you should contact people within the movement. Milo put it bluntly, he said to “ask them”. If they didn’t want to answer it, you go to the next person. Milo does also bring up a very valid point, that people in GamerGate should not tell journalists on how to cover this story or do their job. Journalists should be doing their job, by covering both sides of a story and being ethical. (Note: but what if they don’t want to do their job? Do we just stand by and not react?)

Lynn Walsh does say that journalists can’t reasonably cover GamerGate in the way it is currently composed, Koretzky says the same thing because it takes too long to actually cover it. Derek Smart did interrupt Koretzky and said this is the exact problem with GamerGate, it doesn’t matter how it’s written as long as it’s done in the correct way, gamers want to be heard and not silenced. They don’t want the media to tell lies about them. Hundreds of stories have been written about GamerGate from only one side, not from small publications but from big ones all spreading the same narrative that absolutely cannot be contradicted in any way. The mainstream media and journalists depicted gamers as monsters for months. They do mention that it wasn’t everyone, they mention Erik Kain as an example of good reporting on the subject.

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Koretzky interrupts again, saying the conversation, at this point, isn’t constructive at the 49 minute mark. This panel isn’t for GamerGate, but for journalists. He said they weren’t making any progress so far during the panel. Lynn Walsh does mention that if you cover a story you should cover both sides of a story. She mentions if someone is saying something about the government for instance, they get  a statement from the governement as well, wether it’s in a written statement or on camera. Derek Smart does call out Koretzky, saying he is asking the same loaded question over and over again at the 53 minute mark. Koretzky does ask if getting involved you tubers would be any better, in my opinion, yes it would be, because the media didn’t even contact anyone from GamerGate. It would be miles better than anything BBC, NBC, Rolling Stone or anyone else has done so far. Ren LaForme does say contacting random E-celebs would be the best thing, this is where I would disagree. You can look at the hashtag and contact anyone and put some actual time into the piece, You could ask anyone and get loads of responses by just listening.

Most of this harassment narrative is hard to confirm with available facts or evidence. A lot of this was accusations without a lot of hard facts, merely un-informed opinions. Milo also points out that pro-Gamergate members have gotten death threats but that this has also not been covered by the mainstream media at all. All the media has done so far is to cover how many death threats Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian have received and putting GamerGate next to it, even when the only correlation is timing. Milo also put it bluntly, GamerGate is a movement where the journalists, not the members, have defined it. So, to correct the mistakes from the past, you need to try something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result. If journalists don’t learn from the past, this may actually be the case.

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Derek Smart put it very well:”GamerGate is not about some 15 year old kid sitting in his room playing video games. It’s about thousands of people who are tired of being looked at as dangerous for enjoying a hobby.” Cathy Young also mentions an example of how a journalist wanted to interview her through email. Lynn Walsh says that she does not let her staff do an interview by just email. By the time the panel wanted to get questions, they had to stop it because of another bomb threat, credible this time.

This has been part 2 of a multi-part series. You can find Part 1 here.