The first two pieces I did covering the SPJ Airplay conference were more of a recap, along with an occasional opinion. In this third, and final article, I am going to talk about what all of this has actually done for journalism and gaming.
The first panel was more focused on journalism, disclosure and actual corruption. The journalists in the panel discussed 3 different instances of unethical behaviour. it didn’t really touch on GamerGate and its major undercurrent of resistance to Social Justice Warriors, but it did have some significant things to say about unethical journalism nonetheless. They talked about the Max Temkin article and it’s dubious author, Patricia Hernandez, who has become notorious for jumping the gun on certain issues as well as acting unethically on numerous occasions. If you don’t believe me you can check out her deepfreeze page.
A big red flag appeared while talking about this when Koretzky mentioned Stephen Totillo, with whom he corresponded via email. In said emails, Totillo indicated that he doesn’t want to cover GamerGate because it’s too “toxic”, in his own words. By sending this email to Koretzky, Totillo actually confirms that someone with a masters degree in journalism can’t even apply basic journalistic principles to his writing (as evidenced by his initial article on anonymous death threats sent to Brianna Wu, which escalated Gamergate needlessly). His statements on the matter are damning, if not hypocritical. A man who claims to be ethical and lectures others on the subject, cannot flip-flop and decide not to cover an issue, in-depth, to which he has already covered in an incendiary matter.
More on Patricia Hernandez, she covered someone she lived with and didn’t disclose it, that Totillo allowed this dreck on his site further damns him. Ren LaForme confirmed this is unethical, but steered clear of discussing the consequences of being so. The panel also touched on Gamespot’s Jeff Gerstmann getting fired in 2007, Which was one of the biggest precursors to Gamergate.
The first panel was chaos, with terrible moderation and Koretzky talking too much. Instead of the panel talking things over first and then taking questions, he interrupted them in the middle of crucial arguments. Instead of actually spending time on the five instances of unethical articles, they ended up spending almost all of the time on things that didn’t have a lot to do with GamerGate itself and issues of corruption.
During he second panel, Koretzky was worse. People from GamerGate are trying to help people understand what the movement is about to those who are confused about its purpose, with Lynn Walsh even admitting to this in the first panel. So talking about how and why things are the way they are is important. Milo did have longwinded answers at times, but his general points had to be made. Koretzky, in addition to his constant interruptions, topped it all off by trying to compare GamerGate to Furries, which he tried to use as an ad hominem.
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Several times when Christina Sommers, Cathy Young or Milo Yiannopoulos were trying to give the neutral members some context on Gamergate, they got interrupted. For a panel that was supposed to be about GamerGate and how to cover it, Koretzky sure seemed to love shutting such notions down. Lynn Walsh and Ren LaForme did ask how to cover the controversy, to their credit, and the answers have turned out to be incredibly simple: You research the topic, cover the relevant sides and you do the job required of you. It baffles me that SPJ Journalist Lynn Walsh, and others who simply throw up their hands in “confusion”, don’t know how to do their jobs.
Then the bomb threat occurred that shut the panel down, effectively scuttling the whole event. While the evicted panelists and crowd members waited outside for the bomb squads to finish sweeping the place, Koretzky finally seemed to realize the magnitude of the situation and the lengths that some will go to to silence Gamergate advocates. With a few other panelists, he took over a condemned house and continued the second panel’s discussion. That it took a bomb threat, with several more occurring at Gamergate meet ups across the world, to underscore how caustic the atmosphere around the controversy has become, is disheartening, but the events at the SPJ Airplay event finally seem to be a turning point.
Gamergate may have finally shed the accusations that it’s a movement to deny diversity and threaten women, but the fight for ethical practices in games journalism rages on. With a rather pathetic predictability, the same games media outlets that would uncritically accuse gamers of sending bomb and death threats to the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, could offer nothing but deafening silence in response to the events at SPJ Airplay. That alone, sends the message that Gamergate still has a long way to go.