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Journalistic Ethics is Just The Man Keeping You Down, Man!

kotaku likes the bong
Kotaku tells it like it is, man

For today’s entry in the ‘journalist’ files, we have Crescente@Kotaku boasting about the cheap Chinese garbage Bungie sent over celebrating their recent tie-up w/ Activision1:

Imagine my surprise when a FedEx man left a package from Bungie, marked to be delivered first thing this morning, the day their ten-year publishing agreement with Activision was unveiled.

Yes, imagine his surprise! Oh my stars and garters! Heavens to Betsy! Like, whoa dude, *puff*, more free sh*t–it must be, like, every day of the week!

Now, for a change, we’re going to delve into the minds (mind what you touch–you don’t want to catch anything…like a lobotomy) of the average Kotaku poster, to see if any of them actually grasps the alchemy of what is transpiring in this post.

So join me, as we take a trip into a land, not of reason or logic, but self-serving bloviating by self-styled experts who’s lack of knowledge on even the most basic subjects strains credulity and makes you weep for the future–welcome to The Commenter’s Zone:

So a reader (MaWeiTao) points out that this is, essentially, advertising, and laments that this money could be better spent reducing the cost of a game, etc…except that he doesn’t quite realize it:

Imagine how much cheaper games could be if publishers didn’t waste money on crap like this. If not cheaper games at least the money saved would cover the costs of keeping on a more employees.

What happened to the good old days of just running a straightforward ad?

See him nibbling around the edges there? Almost got it but…oh no, just short, so no shiny new car or vacation (but you can expect to be nitpicked by your fellow posters!).

But, please, allow me to explain: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, son, but you are reading an ad! But it’s so transparent2 that you didn’t even realize it!

Then Jonny_eh comes in to lay him down some knowledge:

Marketing of products does not make products more expensive, if done right. Marketing (if done right) should improve sales of products, which due to the rules of economics, would actually make the products cheaper to manufacture.

He kinda babbles some stupid sh*t he read in Cliff’s Notes Economics 101 and badly mangles it, ’cause, dude, it’s the rules of economics!’ Like, whoa, my mind is blown by your explication of the complex, Austrian school, rools rules popularized by Hayek in The Road to Serfdom.

So, yeah, it’s not really an ad, it’s marketing and that doesn’t raise the cost of a product because it actually helps reduce the cost of the product (the rules, duh!) so, um, how do you refute and argument like that…especially when your brain has turned to stew after reading brain-spasms like this.

The (long-winded) point, though, is: it’s marketing, this much he does get right.

Oh, but then xmywreckingballx comes in with the killing blow:

Dear Brian Crecente,

We encourage you to play Halo:Reach for 36 hours straight. After you play, you will have a larger than normal beard. Make sure your beard is nice trimmed when you review the beta!

Remember that article written about how some game critics were bribed to review a game in the developer’s favor? That’s an awesome way to bribe someone.

He homes right into the heart of the matter, like a BS-seeking missile–bravo, chief, you realized that the primary reason this stuff is sent out at all is to get the people receiving it to talk about it, whether by directly referencing the swag, or ‘reminding’ the journologger3 that the product in question needs to be talked about! Today! Big news! And, hey, it worked! Again! (But you know Cresecente: he’s just being ironic! Or high! Again! Or something! Cause he’s a serious journologger! With his own, unique, code of ethics4 that doesn’t allow him to trade goodies for coverage…no, really, he believes this…really.)

Then Keanu (a.k.a. Erwin the boy that gets to polish Crescente’s knob bong) shows up with what is surely an irrefutable argument to counter the previous posters spot-on assessment: payola works:

All developers do this. The end.


See what he did there! His contention is that since ‘everyone’ does it, it’s, like, totally OK! (Dick!) so nothing unethical to see here; nothing that would, if this were even something as ‘serious’ as sports reporting would be tolerated for a minute, but it’s business as usual for Kotaku and their cohorts at all the big blogs/gaming content portals.5

Why? Well, apparently (at least for Kotaku) it’s because they aren’t Famitsu, and it’s only OK to point out when the Japanese do this because, I guess, they hate the Japanese. What? Logic? Pfft, logic is, like, for squares, dude–Crescente told me so.

1 I hope that contract is iron-clad and guaranteed by the Convenant, guys, cause things aren’t working out so well for Infinity Ward.
2 If you’re blind.
3 A rare beast that gets all of the cool parts of being a hapless blogger but also gets to claim the mantle of journalistic independence when it suits him or her. Basically, it’s the best of both worlds because you can, apparently, never be called out on your bullsh*t.
4 The journologger code of ethics are: whatever they say they are this minute.
5 This is the kind of ‘logic’ your Mom, had she been doing her job, would have disabused you of, at the ripe age of 4, with the classic rejoinder: “If everyone else jumps off a bridge, would you??”

  1. kog3100_edw
    04/29/2010 at 14:32

    See my earlier comment about blackmail, bribery, etc.

    I find it ironic that there really IS a place for that sort of swag. The effin’ retailers. There’s nothing wrong with making up a bunch Bungie mugs and hats and sending them out to encourage people to keep your latest release in mind. But it belongs with the people SELLING the games. Encouraging retail staff to PUSH particular games is common to almost all industries. Spiffs, promo materials, awards, blah blah blah. You can make that stuff available to those with no pretense of being unbiased… and retailers do NOT have to act unbiased. They might have shelves of unsold games doing that, but they are not morally obligated.

    Since all that swag rightfully belongs where the selling is going on, the fact that Kotaku or ANY ‘journalist’ outlet is getting the stuff tells you directly and succinctly what their doing. Selling the game.

    There’s about as much integrity here as the old Chicago reporters that used to slant in Capone’s favor after receiving his largesse.

  2. 04/29/2010 at 21:29

    Man oh man, your smackdowns of this kind of stuff is one of the #1 reasons to read this blog. Well done once again.

    • ECM
      04/29/2010 at 21:30

      Don’t encourage me! XD

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