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Fan Journalism and the Internet
Posted Dec 6, 2007 - 13:42:53

A Book... and this is the sixth time I've used this image in a blog...I mentioned last entry that I thought about this particular space as a column more than anything else. While it's not a very popular one (my Alexa rank is 380,585 last time I checked, and my Quantcast rank is 732,445), I hold myself to some level of standards. None of that is actually what I'm talking about though, so I'm not really sure why I brought that up.

I've been following the Jeff Gerstmann story as it's developed, and it's been a rather enlightening thing to watch happen. For those of you unacquainted with this tale of alleged scandal in the world of videogame journalism, Jeff Gerstmann was recently fired from C|Net owned Gamespot after he wrote a negative review of Eidos title Kane and Lynch. For those who haven't visited Gamespot recently, at the time the entire website was branded with Kane and Lynch promotional images, and as the story goes, Eidos was not too happy with Gerstmann, and this is the supposed reason Gerstmann, after ten years with Gamespot, was let go.

I tend to believe this story is true, but I'm also a cynical bastard who believes that a lot of people care little for ethics and moreso for the bottom line.

I don't want to go too in depth into the details of the dispute, and (frankly) Joystiq has much better coverage of this than I could possibly hope to provide. This controversy though led N'Gai Croal of Newsweek's Level Up blog to make a realization that we all should have figured out a while ago: Video Game publishers hold the enthusiast press in utter contempt.

The problems are incredibly apparent in the middle too - publications like Newsweek aren't risking anything by saying something bad against a game, as they're so well established. Likewise, the little guy who isn't paying their bills with their site (like 4 Color Rebellion as a well read example) doesn't have to worry about losing revenue because they don't really have anything to lose.

It's the sites that are big enough where they have a paid staff that have the problem, and this includes people as large as Gamespot who certainly do more revenue than my local newspaper. The industry just doesn't see them as legitimate press, due to their online nature, and feels that they can push them around.

Which, if the Gerstmann situation proves anything, they absolutely can.

But this bleeds true across all forms of fan media, regardless of whether we're talking about video games, computer hardware, movies... it's all the same. Fan run news and community sites that generate a lot of page views are attractive to advertisers who are making the products/games/shows that people are talking about. When a site grows larger, that money can become a major source of revenue, and the site goes from being "fan-amateur" to "fan-professional." As the site owners become more reliant on the advertising funds, the advertisers now have power over the site administrators. Say the fan-site publishes a bad review then, and the advertiser threatens to pull out...

...well, then you have a problem.

But I digress. I'm far too small to ever actually have a problem with this.
- Traegorn

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My super duper Firefox Alexa toolbar has you ranked at 333,112, fyi.

I learned long ago that most of the video game press is not to be trusted. I remember when Nintendo Power was hyping Body Harvest for the N64 as the coolest, most expansive game ever, and then I bought it and it sucked hard. From that point on, I basically only paid attention to fan reviews and a few trusted game journalists.

Also, how about us almost having a show tomorrow if we had practiced ever? Pretty weird.
I know! I blame Steve for that.  That reminds me though, you should call me so we can figure out when we can get together and actually start putting wheels on this thing. :P

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