Dependent Journalism & its Constraints

When it comes to deciding how I would start the series, I had two paths: the thin line of self-promotion or the in-betweeners known as E-Sports “Journalism”. E-Sports journalism has been a steady growth since its Counter-Strike days and has evolved into being both an outlet to get the right story and an outlet to see iconic people give a couple of words in interviews.

I’ll be writing about E-Sports Journalism mainly because of its coexistence with everyone in the scene. Writing in E-Sports is a thin line of having to be both reliable for the community, but not flat-out objectively crude when reporting some of the darker parts in competitive gaming. When I thought of writing my own content, I thought of the associated liberty that goes with it. When writing your own opinions, you can either rely on the editorial and publishing works of major media sites or go solo, uncensored. Here’s an example of what I mean:

A few weeks back, I wanted to write a piece about Team X, I chose a shock-title being: “Why everyone hates Team X“, I don’t personally hate X, but they were my base-line to expand on the idea of the importance of story and story-telling. The idea was solid, but if I do implicitly paint X negatively, I either hurt the site’s reputation or fans don’t read the site because of the piece. The trade-off isn’t worth it for them. These dilemmas of hurting no one, but trying to please all are what E-Sports journalist sites face almost every day. The lack of open criticism and public denunciations is due to two major aspects that really crush diversity in E-Sports news media as well as sprouting different opinions.

E-Sports Journalism cannot be Independent. What that means is that criticism about specific people or organizations becomes unsafe waters. Typically whenever someone does have something critical to say, they either glaze over particulars, specific situations or simply don’t mention names. The reason for this is because most news sites rely on personal networks within other organizations to get their news like when ESFI broke the news about RGN Gaming shutting down, he [Brent, CEO of ESFI World – smart and level-headed man] found this out through Frank [CEO of VT Gaming/ReIGN – works for IPL now]. In order to obtain these kinds of exclusives including interviews, quotes and more, news media sites must tread lightly when it comes to news about other organizations. This is because in E-Sports they all rely on announcements from other organizations to get their hits and views. You won’t see many sites ‘leaking’ information because the team website also needs hits and page views for marketable purposes. If you do leak it before them, you gain hits in the short-run, but you miss out on future inside information [like Check-Six disbanding, which ESFI got the exclusive on]. So the question becomes, how do we become critical of others with these social restraints? Well, the community  label of pitchforking often sprouts up and this is a side-effect (in my opinion) of the above situation as well.

Let’s look at the editorial listings for three news network sites of E-Sports (Cadred.org, ESFI World, D-Esports) and see what they’re featuring:

ESFI World (top-left), Definitive E-Sports (top-right)
Cadred.org (bottom-left)

All three of these websites are starving for editorials/opinions. ESFI World has been going more forward with their work, Cadred as well, but I wouldn’t be satisfied yet. The reality of it is that most criticisms don’t need to mention names to get their point across. I’m not telling these networks to go out of their way to burn bridges for a small increase of website hits. But even if they were intending to, the thought of naming names could cost opportunities and incriminate yourself. Everyone is seeking to grow and keep as many connections as they can, so sometimes being bold with words ends up having the world depict you as brash. The upside to these restraints of current journalism is that you get a lot of interviews and promotions instead of negativity.

But, let’s say a news media site does get a pretty juicy story from a reliable source: do you think the source will be named? Unlikely for both the reasons above as well as the fact that that person puts himself at risk for minimal reward (not everyone wants to go out of their way to inform the public). This leads us to the exceptions and their unique career situation:

Welcome to Live on Three. You have Marcus Graham (DJwheat), Scott (SirScoots) and Rod Breslau (Slasher), self-made men who sacrificed and realized all they could do for years and years [and earned where they are now]. SirScoots is my favourite amongst the three and someone I also respect for both his expertise, confidence and having the balls to say what needs to be said. James Lampkin (Kennigit) as well has been becoming rather open with some of the persistent issue this scene has been back and forth on. The beauty about Scott, James and Joshua Dentrinos’ (FXOBoss) position is that they’re seated very comfortably. They’ve created long-standing relationships that give them room to breathe and speak freely (almost). This, along with their attitude, gives them the rare ability to really get to the issue about certain people, organizations and problems. Granted they’re not ridiculous or excessive with accusations, they know when to not get involved, to stay in their own end of the world or formulate it as a general lesson to listeners. But every once in awhile, when they know they have the knowledge and supported evidence to say something, they will say it and that’s commending.

However, when other people do it without the right credentials, shit hits the fan. Journalists and news sites don’t have this rare ability and neither do their writers independently, not yet. Let’s use a personal anecdote:

Mark is a flat out liar.

He specifically told EG that he was in talks with Dignitas and threatened numerous times to transfer him to Dignitas if we did not meet his terms and/or meet them by a certain time. So either he lied on this show or he lied to EG during the negotiations. So either the viewers cannot trust him, or those he does business with behind the scenes should be wary. Neither is good.

On top of that, this is the same guy that used to praise me personally, called me Yoda Master, more times than I care to count, used to say he loved how “real” we are on Live on Three etc. The minute we are no longer buddies (because I realized that he was not to be trusted and was a bullshitter and a liar) he goes public with “I swear too much and therefore our show is damaging to the growth of esports.” What a crock of shit. I may say things people do not agree with and I accept that, but I have zero patience with liars or hypocrites. He is both.

This is something SirScoots said back in August about Mark, Quantic’s CEO. This shows a great difference between someone with confidence about what they’re saying, plus how comfortable they are in their position. Now compare that to someone (like myself) still striving to work with a reputable organization or team. If I were to say similar things or tell my own bad experience with Quantic Gaming, it’d look bad. It’d hurt the organization which still has a lot of good in it. It’d hurt the players involved who are living their dream thanks to this organization. So while I may get my egotistical justice served to one bad experience, it puts a lot of people out of work and out of options. Ultimately, it also hurts my reputation, or whatever illusion of it I feel I might have. Plus, would everyone believe me 100%? Unlikely, there will be skeptics and rightfully so. I don’t have the trust and credibility of the community to say what Scoots can say and that’s mostly because of how new I am (like many, many others) to the business than the more experienced. The point being is that current journalist websites don’t have the same public recognition that these long-time contributors have. In addition, their fields are not journalism and they don’t rely on the news of others in order to earn their livelihood.

So to summarize: 1. E-Sports Journalism is not necessarily independent.

  • This prevents both leaks/news before the team/organization wants to release it.
  • It halts incriminating accusations or issues, thus leaving the public uninformed.
  • Featured news starts revolving more around promotion and positive outlooks than negative ones.

2. E-Sports News Media Sites are not self-sustained.

  • This means that personal relationships with team owners and iconic members are important to be maintained and cannot be tarnished by independent criticisms.
  • People of seniority are more reliable for realistic perceptions of the scene than news media sites (of course, it’s all personal opinion nonetheless).

It’s a bit ironic to see E-Sports news media sites become restrained in what topics they can and cannot cover, but for iconic members unrelated to that field, have the capability to speak a hard truth. As the scene continues to evolve, a separation of dependency may occur that gives these websites more liberty rather than reposting the latest splash of news that hits the community.

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One thought on “Dependent Journalism & its Constraints

  1. Torte, I know you would write even long tweets if that were possible, so I was going to give you a long reply. Instead here’s this: the state of our “journalism” is bullshit, in part because of the reasons you described, in part because bullshit is what our audience wants.

    Never forget: people came for SlayerS disbanding, but they stayed for the circus.

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