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The recent dealings between Star Citizen and The Escapist have brought quite a few interesting questions forward to discuss. I’m not all that interested in arguing who is in the right and who is in the wrong, or who will “win” in the end, but discussing what has occurred and is still occurring in the light of journalism ethics is rather valuable, particularly in this case the use of anonymous sources.

Those of you who follow TechRaptor (thanks, by the way), may remember that back in May we ran into a very similar situation The Escapist now finds itself in today. Basically, we had an article detailing the development of a game called The Dead Linger. Afterwards, we had some ex-employees come forward wanting to discuss what was happening during development and what the atmosphere was like working for the studio.

While far less serious, they made some similar claims as can be found in The Escapist’s article on Star Citizen with its nine sources. I compare the two because, as you may have noticed above, I was the one who decided to pull that second Dead Linger article we published, after many similar considerations on how to use anonymous sources, whether or not you should use anonymous sources, motivations for anonymity, etc. You can more or less see the conclusions I and other Editorial Staff came to regarding The Dead Linger, leading us to update our Ethics Policies to include a discussion on anonymous sources. It’s worth mentioning we eventually interviewed The Dead Linger‘s Design Director.

As you can see, there should be a few key considerations every time someone wants to be an anonymous source for any story:

  1. Why does the source want to be anonymous and is there serious potential for harm if the individual publicly reveals whatever information they have?
  2. Why do they want to be a source at all? What is their motivation?
  3. Do they have information that is near to or impossible to obtain elsewhere?
  4. Do they have the evidence to backup their claim?
    • Where and in what position were the able to obtain said information?
  5. Is the information they are providing something that is verifiable?

My plan is to go through the various claims from The Escapist’s article, which I laid out in my previous article, and discuss what sort of issues they bring up regarding anonymous sources.

Just to be clear before moving on: This is not a discussion on whether or not these are legitimate sources, but a discussion using The Escapist’s examples as a jumping off point about anonymous sources. It is also not about whether they were in the right or wrong, but to use their situation as a basis for discussion.

Rather than copying over the entire summary of allegations in The Escapist’s article, we’ll take it in varying chunks. The list in its entirety is in this article just under “The Escapist v. Star Citizen.”

Evidence Based Claims

The first chunk to discuss is a fairly big one:

  • “It was also alleged that Roberts’ wife and Cloud Imperium Games Vice President of Marketing Sandi Gardiner enforced discriminatory hiring practices.”
    • Sandi allegedly informed employees not to hire people if too much time had passed since their education, putting them at around 40 years old,  since they would be harder to fire and allegedly used race as a hiring factor, refusing to hire someone because she was black.
  • Roberts and Sandi used company funds for private expenses, such as paying for the house they live in, vacations, travel for Sandi to go to movie auditions, and more along those lines—the sources describe a lavish lifestyle funded by the crowdfunding campaign.
  • One source alleged that company funds are being used to fund the development of a crowdfunding platform.
  • “Several different sources have indicated that the company has already used the majority of its funding, but not much has been created to show for it.”
    • Many of the sources claim there is only about $8 million left from crowdfunded funds.
    • ” ‘There’s a demo, a racing demo, a single first person shooter level, and an area where you can walk around. For $82 million,’ CS2 stated.”
  • Some sources were concerned with irresponsible spending and mismanaged money, claiming large portions of the game have been stripped down to be redone with no gain. They also see hiring Hollywood actors to do voice over work on commercials and in-game voices is not worthwhile.
  • Several sources claim the Austin offices are closing, even though CIG claims this to be untrue.

So that’s the first big chunk, but they all have something in common: where’s the evidence for these claims? Some of the above is incredibly serious, such as the discriminatory hiring practices and using company funds for private expenses.

What evidence did the sources provide other than to say it was going on? Were one or some of them involved in any of the processes, making them privy to that information? Is there documentation of missing funds? Did they have a personal conversation with Roberts or Gardiner where they revealed using company funds privately?

One route, and the one The Escapist describes, is to verify information from multiple, independent sources to determine whether or not certain claims are both worthwhile and likely the truth.

However, the allegations above are both serious and really only verifiable through evidence, which should be a necessity if the claims are to be published. The evidence itself does not necessarily need to be published, particularly if that could reveal the identity of the source, but verification as to the validity of said evidence should take place before publishing something similar to the above claims.

Further, even if the sources did provide evidence, the claims should be pursued to verify it independently. Obviously, that is not always achievable, but an attempt should be made to do so.

For example, looking at the current staffing and where they were positioned in Cloud Imperium Games would be a relatively easy thing to investigate in questioning the discriminatory hiring practices to either verify evidence or a claim.

In any case, even those where one is unable to verify independently, some effort should be made to reference whatever evidence there was in the article, beyond just the personal claim from the source(s), which I would argue is insufficient for the types of allegations above. For example, referencing a memo that mentioned the Austin offices closing, emails, official documents, etc.

Not doing so helps create this ambiguity and reason for some to think the article is just giving a platform for baseless attacks. Being clear on the evidence, explaining that evidence was seen but will not be published, and just being more open about the sourcing—the the reasonable extent that does not risk revealing their identity—should be the bare minimum when dealing with sources coming forward with allegations similar to those above.

Opinion Statements

Now it is time for the next batch:

  • “The popular consensus among most of the people who reached out is that Chris Roberts is not intentionally a con man. ‘He doesn’t set out in the morning to screw anybody over. He’s just incredibly arrogant,’ CS2 stated.”
  • “According to several sources, being an employee of Cloud Imperium Games meant subjecting yourself to public insults, screaming, profanity, racism, and stress so powerful that some people would become physically ill.”
  • Employees always felt on edge around Sandi and Roberts, both of which allegedly routinely insulted employees, to the point that one of the sources said they would often gather four or five people to review an email before it was sent to Roberts so that there wasn’t anything that may upset him. Another mentioned Roberts was unable to control his temper and had no problem making a scene.
  • Many of the sources felt guilt, like they were part of some con and wanted to get out because of the feeling.
  • One source says Roberts values employees by how willing they are to say “yes.” 
  • “The widespread belief among everyone I spoke with is that Chris Roberts is a true visionary – but not a true leader. Chris Roberts has a vision, but people say he can neither articulate nor deliver the vision.”

The problem with these, to me, is that they are largely just opinions on personal character—personal evaluations from the source(s). What’s at issue here is that opinions are pretty much impossible to verify in any sense of the word. The even bigger issue is the question about what an anonymous source should be used for exactly.

Should publications give a platform for anonymous sources to voice their opinion? I would argue no.

The purpose of an anonymous source is to bring something into the public realm that has some value to the general public concern. That it exposes, explains, or otherwise brings to light something the audience/public would both be interested in and would concern them in some fashion—whether that be their financial stake, knowledge of a company’s illegal activities, or other similar matters.

Personal evaluation of someone’s character, with the protection of anonymity, is not something that should be published. This is a fairly standard practice and guideline when using anonymous sources.

Many of those guidelines mention the inherent unfairness in allowing someone protected by anonymity to attack/say something negative about someone else. The subject doesn’t have the ability to respond to them directly, and as Reuters puts it, “gives the sources an opportunity to benefit at our expense.”

Reporting is not about allowing someone to speak their mind, it’s about getting to the truth of the matter at hand. Opinions are, by definition, not truth. If a source has too much opinion, you have to question their motive—is it to bring something of public concern to light or are they looking for somewhere a decent amount of people may read what they say? Do they have a personal animosity to whoever they are opining about?

It’s all very tricky to be sure, but as a general rule, anonymous sources shouldn’t be used to voice opinions. To sum up: opinions are near impossible to verify, they likely do not relate to public concern, are unfair to the subject of said opinions, and if too numerous, bring into question the motivation of that source.

Expertise and Anecdotes

Here is the final batch:

  • Several matters were taken before HR, but employees received little help. 
  • Many of the sources feel that the development team for Star Citizen is understaffed, but management is cutting money by cutting people, not by cutting “frills.”
    • ” Chris Roberts wants a certain game – practically a movie – and doesn’t want to compromise on anything but staff,” CS6 said.
    • ” ‘He’s letting go people (sic) necessary to complete the game, but then wants to hire a professional linguist to create three brand new alien languages. He’s making this entire project impossible,’ CS3 added.”
  • Lizzy says one of the most common things discussed by the sources was the lack of progress on Star Citizen. One source said they weren’t making a game but commercials, and another said they were always building towards the next event for a flashy demo, rather than making the game itself.
  • The article ended with mention that none of the sources could agree on whether or not a game would actually truly be coming out.

While some may take these to be more opinion in some areas, these are more personal experiences and evaluations of the project itself, of which each employee should have considerable knowledge—what you may call “expertise.”

They have specific knowledge and experience that won’t be found in documentation anywhere and is the sort of thing that is verifiable by having multiple sources making similar comments. This is bringing to light something that only they could know.

The above comments express concern over the way the project is going and give insight into the circumstances under which Star Citizen is being developed. The public related to Star Citizen surely has a vested interest in the information as it is very likely that many would not want to support or contribute something poorly managed. That this information would be valuable in weighing whether their time and money was worth it overall.

The only thing at risk here would be when considering the source(s)’s motivation. If this is all mixed in with a bunch of opinions on specific people, then maybe it is a bit suspect. But if the source approached you to directly talk about the state of the game itself, that is a pretty clear motivation that would line up with the above comments.

Having developers—whether they are programmers, artists, etc.—discuss the state of a game and evaluate the development, particularly those that worked on said game, is valuable information for the public in gaining insight into something they may not be familiar with. Again, this goes back to that information of expertise that the general public would not necessarily know.

In the end, all of the above is solely my own interpretation of a particular part of media ethics, which as we all love to think about ethics being objective, there is a lot of subjectivity in finding what most would agree is the correct course of action.

I’d like to reiterate that I am not accusing The Escapist of any wrongdoing. All of the above was an exercise in discussion, and I do not know all of the information regarding The Escapist’s evaluation of the sources they used, the evidence provided, how they were vetted, etc. Without all of that knowledge, it would be both unfair and inaccurate to evaluate their decision to publish what they did.

I hope this will make some of you think, as I know it was a good exercise for me to more firmly establish my approach and understanding of media ethics. Of course, I will freely admit again that I may certainly be wrong in my arguments/evaluations above. I do not know and likely did not consider all of the possibilities. However, I do look forward to what you all think in the comments below.

How strict should guidelines be when using anonymous sources? There seems to be a lot more in the media, everywhere, and definitely in games media, do you think this is a trend that will continue? Are journalists relying on and using anonymous sources too often?

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.

  • Roadbeer

    I would tend to agree with every point above. Sound and rational.

    I believe the stronger the claim, the deeper the vetting. On the last two points, “Opinion” and “Anecdotes” I’m ok with anonymity, as long as it’s presented as such, which I think The Escapist did an OK job doing.

    But on the first points, when allegations of the breaking of actual laws, be it employment regulations or in this case, embezzlement, anonymous sources to get the ball rolling are fine, but at some point, you need someone to go on the record with concrete evidence. The Escapist could have bracketed those claims with “unconfirmed sources say” and still presented the piece as it was, with that simple qualifier, but lumping them in with a mishmash of “He said, she said” casts shade on the whole thing.

    Lets be honest, if The Escapist had actual proof of those claims beyond “Ex employee said this” they would have presented it in the piece, and would have been the shining god of Games Journo for uncovering a legitimate scandal. But as it stands right now, they just have some ex employees talking shit, with the only verification being (as The Escapist says they’ve vetted) them being ex employees.

  • AlienPickle

    I want to shake your hand for what is perhaps the most adult drama-defeating analysis I’ve yet read on this issue. This is not a question of who isn’t nice to work for, or a good leader. The question at the heart of the matter is simply “Will this game ship, and in what condition?” If that looks like a significant chance of negative, then “Where did the money go?” is the next logical question.

    This is not a case of critiquing how your spouse spent the grocery money, or didn’t pay the phone bill on time. This is 90 million dollars PLUS an unknown amount of venture capital money. Now, clearly a significant amount of expense has been incurred by the running of the RSI public relations machine – the website, the magazine, the weekly video shows, etc. I would like to request that everyone go back to the original kickstarter and read the campaign pitch. Roberts states approximately “We already have investors, but they want to see your interest first. They’ll pay for the development. We need YOUR money to run the website and do all the fancy things.” Go read it, it’s right there in his own words.

    The questions you raise about the wisdom of Liz Finnegan incorporating such a high ratio of hearsay to tangibles are most definitely valid, and welcome. I’ve spoken to Josh Vanderwall briefly about this incident, and we’ll discuss it at length once he’s back in town I hope. They did an excellent job of CYA with the legal team’s involvement in every moment of this process. However, I do feel that if the article had generalized the statements of the anons to “Multiple unrelated sources have made very similar statements about the working conditions, culture, Mr Roberts’ leadership abilities, and have unanimously indicated that there are financial issues in play that they feel result in the impossibility of shipping the product.” then we’d have a completely different article, wouldn’t we? Those glassdoor posts would fill in the hearsay details, without burdening the publication or the writer with the responsibility of deciding to print it.

    The issue at hand is then if the story, stripped of hearsay, has sufficient substance remaining to accomplish the same ends. Does the hearsay support the real core issue of “Will it ship? Where is the money?” or is it required to raise the issue at all? If the latter, then the article should have been held until they had enough tangibles to target the financials and development progress specifically. That’s when you get results, because they can’t dodge it without confirming the accusation. In the current form, the entire thing can be discounted as the product of hearsay and business will continue as normal.

  • Roadbeer

    Just to touch on a couple points.

    1. In regards to the PR machine, The magazine, videos, etc are supposedly funded by “subscribers” and not the pledges. Having said that, are there enough subscribers to warrant that level of PR? I can’t honestly say.

    If you use traffic in the subforum reserved for subscribers, I’d say no. It can be argued that only a small percent of people engaged in a game visit the forums and while that is true, these are supposed to be the “True Believers” putting in an additional $10-$20 monthly for the production of PR and additional perks.

    I don’t have an opinion either way, but FWIW, the ‘gloss’ isn’t supposed to come from the pledges, so the $90mil isn’t relevant to that conversation.

    2. The scope of the game as proposed on the original KS has moved WAY beyond. Were that what we were still looking at, the point would be valid. That ship sailed LONG ago with a backer endorsed feature creep.

    There were points along the way that CR, concerned about it, asked the backers if they should stop with the stretch goals. The backers, voting against their own self interest of having a game released any time soon, continuously voted to keep them going until there was a point ($65mil IIRC) that CR said “no more”. To much forum rage.

    It was brought to my attention earlier that the backers are only partially to blame in this, because if you ask a crack addict if they want to continue getting free crack but at a later date, they will always say yes.

    I don’t have a point, just providing some perspective on your comment from my POV.
    (Disclosure, yes I am a backer and a subscriber, but I also consider myself a rational person and can see the faults all around in this thing)

  • Iconoclast

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is simple as that.

    If you level serious allegations against the people at CIG, you better have e.g. copies of internal paperwork to back that up.

  • hurin

    Thanks for bringing some much needed sanity to the Star Citizen debate.

    The real issues are; Will the game ship? Where did the money go? Can backers demand a refund? All the other stuff is not really interesting and should not have been in the Escapist article regardless of whether it is true or not.

  • King of Bros

    No because the story is ”these employees who we have vetted to be employees CLAIM this”

    It’s not


  • Roadbeer


    Having said that, The Escapist isn’t going out of its way to make the distinction between the two other than in the most roundabout ways because, clicks.
    (I like The Escapist, and Lizzy, but I have to say this whole thing is being done in the most clickbaity of ways)

  • Iconoclast

    At this point it is just down to semantics, ain’t it?

    The Escapist ran with it in a way that heavily implied that these claims are true. Question is if either the ex-employee accusers or the Escapist can back those up, and if they can’t then we are back ‘to he said she said’ and last time I checked innocent until proven guilty is how the system works.

  • ParasiteX

    I defiantly agree with you. Those are good points, and quite frankly the only valid points one can ask now without any actual corroborating evidence to say otherwise.

    And about the when will the game ship.. Well the simple answer is, it depends on what game.
    As the first episode of the single player campaign, Squadron 42, is slated for a fall 2015 release. And were expecting to see a lot of Squadron 42 stuff at the upcoming CitizenCon on Okt 10th.
    And the Persistent Universe was always a stretch goal to begin with. And because of the massive increase in budget, the scope and thus the development time exploded quite a bit. But they themselves say 2016. But realistically it will probably be around 2017.

    And about where did the money go. There is not really any reason to go digging thru financias with an invasive audit… yet. As there havent been any indication that development has stopped or significantly slowed down. They provide weekly updates on progress.
    If there would be a situation where months have passed by without any updates.. well then that would defiantly be a cause for concern to check where the fuck the money went.

    Plus.. if these massive discussions around this all over the web is any indication.. Then it’s safe to say that there is a lot of buzz and hype around Star Citizen.
    So it wouldn’t really be hard for CiG to find investment bankers willing to fund remaining development, in the off chance they somehow manage to run out of cash.
    There is already a very strong established market interest in the game.
    With a million already willing to back a game that’s not even done. Then just imagine how many other potential customers they could attract if they can ship the game.

    And lastly. Can we demand refund? I don’t really know. They have shown in rare occurrences to do refunds. Especially in the case of Derek Smart and very toxic trolls, like jcrg99 or whatever dumb alias he uses..
    And i guess if one mails them and ask nicely enough. They they might offer a refund.

    Legally i’m not sure if we backers have anything to stand on either. As like i mentioned, there hasn’t been any indication that development has stopped. And the delivery date on Kickstarter, was just a very early estimate. It even says in Kickstarters ToS that delivery dates are estimates, and projects are not required to guarantee these dates.

    Kickstarters own words:
    “The Estimated Delivery Date is the creator’s estimate. The date listed on each reward is the creator’s estimate of when they will provide the reward — not a guarantee to fulfill by that date. The schedule may change as the creator works on the project. We ask creators to think carefully, set a date they feel confident they can work toward, and communicate with backers about any changes.”


    “Kickstarter doesn’t offer refunds. Responsibility for finishing a project lies entirely with the project creator. Kickstarter doesn’t hold funds on creators’ behalf, cannot guarantee creators’ work, and does not offer refunds.”

    With the increase of budget, came increased scope.. with the majority of backers support i might add.
    And bigger scope takes longer to make..

    EDIT: hory shieet this post ended up long.. sorry about that :S

  • Kain Yusanagi

    Oh hells no, that’s not semantics. That’s “these people are saying this” not “this is truth and these are sources verifying it” KOP spaghetti-style. That’s what a lot of people aren’t getting when calling it unethical- If she used their statements to make allegations herself, it would be. However, she didn’t, only reported what current and ex-employees stated. While she could have been more selective in what she allowed go to print, it’s still their words, not hers- like an interview with a celebrity, the publication isn’t held responsible for what the celebrity says, as one easily checked example.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    It was all qualified with “anonymous sources say” at various times, though. Never presented as actual fact, just allegations made by current and ex-employees under anonymity.

  • King of Bros

    That’s not how journalism works.
    The reporting is that 9 employees were distressed enough with their ex working place to say very similar things.
    Escapist did not make those things up.

  • DukeMagus

    Now this one raises some vald points. Awesome article!

  • Roadbeer

    No, that’s exactly how journalism works.
    The Escapist did it right, but in a half-assed way. They said that these employees CLAIM x, y, and z. But they didn’t provide proof of the allegations, just that allegations existed. And rather than emphasize that they were just anonymous claims, they almost buried the fact that it was exactly just that, anonymous claims.
    Again, very clickbaity.

  • Rory Mitchell

    Good writeup. One of the discussion points to consider beyond what you wrote is the following question: at what point do multiple independent sources for a claim or an opinion mean that it is worth publishing? Is it a reasonably large number? Or is it never? I think that is the Escapist’s argument with how they dealt with the anonymous opinions/claims. One or two people making claims about a person’s character or their actions would not be publishable. However, with enough eye witnesses giving the same information, is that not evidence of a certain kind? It certainly isn’t physical evidence such as a video, or a written statement, so it isn’t as clear cut a story as that. However, it is reasonably considered more than just a single person’s opinion or claim. I’m wondering where you think the dividing line is for that kind of information from sources who wish to remain anonymous?

  • TheCybercoco

    Love it when people begin with disclaimers like “I’m not accusing anyone of wrongdoing” then proceed to bring up suspicions of wrong doing. Just own up to it.

  • TheCybercoco

    “There were points along the way that CR, concerned about it, asked the
    backers if they should stop with the stretch goals. The backers, voting
    against their own self interest of having a game released any time soon,
    continuously voted to keep them going until there was a point ($65mil
    IIRC) that CR said “no more”. To much forum rage.”

    Consulting the crowd for the scope of the project was probably Roberts’ biggest mistake. That should’ve been done internally.

  • hurin

    How people spend their money is their own business. But I am concerned to learn that some backers have spent in excess of $20000 on virtual ships, because that sounds more like a cult than a game franchise.
    I have spent a similar amount to build a home theater, but my equipment will not dissappear if the company making it goes into bankruptcy.

  • Jake Martinez

    It’s not semantics, it’s literally in the title of the damn article, ‘Star Citizen Employees Speak out on Project Woes’.

  • Jake Martinez

    Go read Politico someday, or the Washington Post even. The vast majority of the time there is an anonymous source giving some inside information there is no evidence other than the corroboration of other sources.

  • Net

    “” ‘He’s letting go people (sic) necessary to complete the game, but then
    wants to hire a professional linguist to create three brand new alien
    languages. He’s making this entire project impossible,’ CS3 added.””

    Too many quotes:) Anyway, I would like to point out that alien languages were requested by the community several times and they became a stretch goal. I think that quotes like these make the sources untrustworthy, because they are looking at things from the perspective of their area and not the project on the whole and that some people really want “real” alien languages and not just a bunch of made up words. Also this quotes confirms my belief that the Chris is actually the right person to do the game, because he wants fairly popular feature in the game, despite some people not liking it.


    I like the article on the whole, it is great discussion about the anonymous sources, I think that The Escapists quite failed in additional research about the game (not knowing the original budget or why the linguist was hired), I think it would help greatly if the quotes from the sources were presented in the broader context of the game development (and without personal opinions of the journalists, I do not like opinions in journalism).

  • Iconoclast

    Maybe I failed to convey my point correctly. It is not about which one said it, it is about that all there is hearsay by ex-employees.

    True, if multiple people say the same thing it is worth to follow up on it, but it without indepent verification it still is hearsay.

  • Iconoclast

    But what is there that supports the claims made by these ex-employees? That they all say the same thing does give enough credibility to follow up on that, but where is the meat? Where are the juicy bits like leaked internal communications?

  • Iconoclast

    Precisely, which is why anyone should approach these articles with a healthy dose of distrust.

  • Roadbeer

    Using agenda driven news outlets as a model of how things are done, doesn’t really help your case. Though, its tough to NOT find an agenda driven news outlet, anywhere.

  • ParasiteX

    Yeah, those people have some serious ship addiction problems, and should seek professional help.
    But as you said, it’s their money.. and if they wanna lose their marbles buying yet to exist virtual goods.. well then i cant really stop em..
    I’ve always seen crowdfunding more like a gamble. And i weigh in the risks and reward in much the same way.

    Some of the people constantly attacking Star Citizen have as much cult like behavior. I mean. just look at this nutball:

    He is one of the loudest trolls. And like Derek, he had his pledge refunded for being a complete ass on the forums.
    And a massive Derek groupie… Should probably call them the “Cult of Derek”..

  • mazty

    Great article. Let’s remember that the escapist has a history of not paying it’s staff and is a traffic driven site, with the article written by someone who isn’t qualified to write such an important piece. I hope that the escapist gets dragged through the courts as its a nasty blotch in gaming media.

  • Great question, and I am disappointed it is not something I thought to bring up when writing the article.

    It’s hard to say and I would be hesitant to give a flat number. I would suppose that more than just the number would be taken into account. How did all of the people contact you to be a source (or did you contact them?) Where did they get that information exactly and how were they privy to it (what part of the company were they in)?

    The type of allegations would likely change the sort of sources you want too. For something specific about the financials, you probably don’t want a lot of people that worked as a programmer or artist. Thinking on that sort of thing would likely go into it.

    As for opinions of character, as many other outlets say, that should never be published for the reasons I wrote above. Those are just so incredibly biased and subjective to begin with anyway. And who hasn’t experienced rumor and discussion among employees about a bad boss that go far beyond the actual truth? Note: that last bit is not even close to a significant reason as to why not to post opinions of character if they are anonymous.

    While not super thorough, I hope that gives you some insight into my thoughts. Basically, more than just how many would need to be considered first.

  • Jake Martinez

    I don’t disagree with that at all. It’s intentionally left up to the reader to decide,

  • Net

    I think the key word here is ‘independent.’ It is one thing when a group decides to reach to you and quite another if you manage to contact someone yourself and they talk to you after the fact. The thing with the Escapist article is, that the sources are NOT independent. They are related to each other and obviously talked to each other about contacting Lizzy. That does not mean they are lying, just that we should be very careful when reading what they are saying because of the obvious bias:

    1) It is unlikely someone unhappy with the CIG would ask someone happy with CIG to talk to Lizzy

    2) It is quite possible that the sources are friends and shared the same office rumours between themselves. So they say the same thing to Lizzy even if the original source may be just one person.

    That is why I think that the journalist should be very cautious when dealing with multiple ‘dependent’ sources. They should carefuly research the origin of each piece of the information they are provided, because confirmation by others does not mean much in that scenario.

  • Mr.Towel

    As far as most anonymous sources goes (on journalism in general, not just gaming media), a journalist doesn’t have the obligation to reveal primary documents revealed by the source, on the contrary actually, it’s usually better to don’t reveal, for security reasons. It makes part of the sources anonymous status as many times the side being accused can pinpoint who is the anonymous source by investigating the documents the sources used to validate their claims or the very specific episodes retold by the source (which is why they also refrain from telling all the details and have to go with bland statements).

    Serious investigative journalism actually prefers to go blind as far as the identity of the sources goes and rely on the document they provide to validate their claims, usually conducting interviews through the Tor Network to make the source anonymous even for the Interviewer. But the journalists will never reveal the official documents validating their claims as that could threaten the source’s well being. Only under legal obligation they should do so.

    Now, if the Escapist was that meticulous is another topic. Considering their past instances on Journalism Ethics, I doubt that would be the case.

    Either way we will know about it if CIG bring them to court.