“I have an agenda.”
I don’t know if there is a more frightening set of words to come out of a journalist’s mouth. Now, agenda driven journalism exists. We see it all the time in mainstream news. Rachel Maddow is a blatant “progressive.” Bill O’Reilly is very much a Republican and further right than someone like Greg Gutfield. Then, of course, you have Chris Hayes, whose fascination with President Obama sounds like a schoolyard crush. It’s not unfamiliar, but it does not stop being wrong. The same idea should be remembered when it comes to game journalism. When Ben Kuchera tells you he is pushing a “progressive” agenda, it’s an issue. When Leigh Alexander tells you her goal is to “get money, fight bulls***, and make sure those she loves stand the longest,” it’s a problem.
It’s true that we all have our tastes in life. We all have different lifestyles. E Pluribus Unum. “From many, one.” As a United States citizen, it comes with the territory. With that said, with the rise in the idea of agenda comes a decrease in the application of ethics. From what Leigh Alexander says of herself, she is not a journalist. She is using her position of Editor in Chief at Gamasutra as a massive PR agent. It seems as if she would be more comfortable doing what Maya Kramer does for Silverstring Media than what she has been doing thus far. As it stands, where does that leave the developers and publishers?
Let’s evaluate the position of an independent developer. Say that a small team has created a compelling experience that breaks social norms, and is a bit politically incorrect in some manners. In a way, it’s a partial throwback to a game like Fallout 2. Now, let’s say another team has created a walking simulator where you listen to a woman talk about how pretty things are for hours on end. If members of the press are stifling the information about the former, and increasing the amount of information output for the latter, you find that the first team is at a massive disadvantage to making their project a success.
If a journalist tells you that they’re unaware of the power that they hold, they’re lying to you. Journalism does not often pay the bills unless you’ve got a side gig or a major publisher behind you. Even then, a quasi-competent businessman will be making more money than you are. Journalists carry influence, and they often times abuse it. In my Unisolated Alienation video, I mentioned both Ben Kuchera and Jim Sterling’s attempt to lay the blame of Aliens: Colonial Marines at the feet of both Sega and Creative Assembly, leaving out the fault of Gearbox completely. As I stated in the aforementioned video, I have my suspicions on why this happened. Anthony Burch worked for Gearbox at the time, and Burch is a friend of both Kuchera and Sterling. If my suspicions are true, it’s a pretty clear cut case of cronyism. Then, of course, you have video game writers contributing to the Patreons of independent developers, on top of roommates giving perfect scores to the games of friends they have made.
You see, to the journalist with an agenda, facts have no place. The only thing that matters is the message. It’s interesting that folks like Ben Kuchera or Chris Plante are more than willing to call their readers evil. You see, Plante is fantastic at the doublethink that ultimately causes extremism. It’s only in the mind of an extreme ideologue that free market economics would be a tool of sexists. Only the thought process of someone so dedicated to a backwards, far-left agenda could construe a legal act like contacting companies about who they advertise with could be called “sexism.” True sexism is something that women in the middle east not living in Israel experience on the daily, and were they to hear about our problems, they’d weep. They’d trade their lives for the biggest issue they face to be bouncing breasts in video games. Truth is irrelevant to these third wave devotees. All that matters is the narrative.
In fact, many sites are more than happy to cover up the truth in the media. NBC was famously caught editing the George Zimmerman 911 audio, but I have another interesting one that was from a wrestling site under the Vox umbrella. Cagesideseats is manned by Geno Mrosko, who had hired a writer by the name of Sergio Hernandez. He and Hernandez worked closely with one another, both being on the Cageside Seats podcast, on top of working at MMA Mania. Hernandez was a bit heavy on the booze though, often tweeting on his account while driving drunk. It caught up to him, as Hernandez killed a man. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Immediately, those sites turned Hernandez into an un-person. Rather than addressing what had happened, they swept everything under the rug in an attempt to cover the mess, rather than firing Hernandez before it happened. It was easier for them to try and bury the truth, rather than live with it.
“You have one job, information. If I can’t trust your intel then you’re useless to me.” Though I’m quoting Mass Effect 2, ultimately I think that statement sums up what John Q. Public is expecting when it comes to journalists. Game Journalism is simple. Report the news, review the games to the best of your ability, be honest to your audience, and try to give everyone an even slice. You’re paid to sit on the fence and observe, not jump off the fence and get in the middle of what you’re seeing. You aren’t paid to make friends, and being a professional is not difficult. Millions of human beings manage to pull it off on a daily basis. Get with the program. If you don’t acknowledge the problems now, later down the road you’re going to get caught in a mess. At this point, Vox’s writers like Mrosko, Kuchera, and Plante have caused the opinion of many Vox sites to drop, and they’re starting to lose their reputation.
All because of the agenda.