Today, Milo Yiannopoulos and Breitbart released more emails, copied verbatim, regarding the GameJournoPros mailing list that was revealed yesterday. Some, not all, seem to indicate at least some kind of flippancy towards the issue of game journalism ethics, as well as discussion on not even discussing it. Below will be both the copied emails as well as small analysis of what they could mean or how we might go about approaching what was said. Bolded words are there for the purpose of highlighting something someone wrote.
This is a string of emails, verbatim, and in the order in which they were sent. Any wording not italicized below will be additions by myself.
Andrew Groen, a WIRED contributor:
I had a thought. Maybe a bad one. You tell me: I remember a few years back when Patrick Klepek hit on some tough circumstances we all pitched in to get him a “feel better” gift. Anybody think something like that could be appropriate to address the circumstances that have been forced upon Zoe? Even if it’s not monetary. Maybe a signed, joint letter of support from the Game Journo Pros. I know she’s not a member of the group like Patrick was, but I do know that this is part of a broader theme of the industry losing talent to the toxic culture. And that’s our business. In my mind, it’s a joint show of solidarity to match the trolls’ joint show of force … The last thing I think we want is Zoe thinking she’s under attack *alone.* The brain has a way of convincing you that silent people are against you.
The idea of sending that letter is fairly innocuous and seems genuine. It is something that should not happen however. It is an odd breach of a journalist’s objectivity and duty to try and muster up support in a signed letter from other journalists – particularly considering all of the facts were not in. They are still not in. Again, though, the idea is not a terrible one and I think the “collusion” here was nothing more than to protect Zoe Quinn from the, rightly predicted, amount of harassment about to head her way. Still, this kind of suggestion should not have happened in the first place. It is not a journalist’s job to offer support in a situation like this – it is their job to find the truth about whether support is necessary in the first place.
And another thing, is that really their business? I just want to emphasize again that in this there is no discussion of an evaluation of Quinn’s talent, as that is what Andrew seems to focus on losing. Nor is there an evaluation of the situation at all.
Dan Starkey, who has written articles for Eurogamer, GameSpot, Joystiq, and Kotaku:
As the person I’m going to assume is the most irrationally optimistic person here, I like this idea. Small bits of kindness can do a lot, even when found in oceans of shit.
Nothing to add here that wasn’t said above, other than the fact that the idea was not rejected, nor was it questioned.
Andy Eddy, a freelance editor and writer:
This is barely a game-industry story, no matter how some people want to frame it. This is a story about a person who happens to be in the game industry and their personal relationships (no matter how it may weave back into “the industry” and however poor the person’s judgments may have been) and public expose of private materials by that person’s partner as revenge, so I don’t think we, as games press, should support furthering the story by commenting, editorializing or even allowing others to ruminate on it.
Isn’t the job of game journalists to question when foul play is even hinted at? Isn’t it a game journalist’s job to look critically at an issue and not wave it off because they initially perceive it as personal? Personal matters can definitely be relevant to the public – ask any politician ever.
Andy waved this off right away and refused to look at it in any way. What was the story that people were trying to frame? All he knows is that some impropriety took place. Doesn’t the nature of that at least necessitate a glance? This here just seems like the rumblings that most game journalists took to heart at the beginning of this whole issue.
And to head this off, just because he voiced his opinion, which obviously seems nonsensical here, doesn’t mean there is collusion. So far, this discussion is nothing more than journalists discussing a larger issue – no matter how much any of us want it to be more than that.
William O’Neal, editor-in-chief, TechRadar.com:
Who here hasn’t slept with a PR person or game developer? #AMIRITE
This will be the quote most people turn to when they see this. It is obviously a joke, and one in poor taste at that. William, when he made that poor joke, did it in the confidence that none of this would be revealed. It is to his misfortune that a joke that will appall many, including myself, will be seen by the public. We have all made the mistake, though most of us have not had it aired out. In that I sympathize with him.
But in other ways, I would have hoped he could have taken a much more professional approach to this. He obviously didn’t want to look at the issue critically himself.
Kyle Orland, senior editor at Ars Technica:
I like the signed letter of support idea. Even better if we can get some developers in on that. Anyone want to volunteer to draft something?
The most interesting thing about Kyle Orland in this matter is that he, just recently, said the letter was his idea and that later “cooler heads prevailed” to dissuade them of this idea. Well, we see here that it was not Kyle’s idea, and not many people seemed to disagree. However, we must also remember that we are only being shown what Breitbart is choosing to show. Who knows what was said after, as in the grand scheme of things, this is not a lot of information.
Andrew Groen, again, a WIRED contributor:
I’d also suggest that – if others think the letter is a good idea – we should do this entirely under the radar, organizing it through word-of-mouth and email rather than Twitter. I made the mistake earlier of publicly voicing support and in doing so drawing more attention to the issue. I’d rather not make that mistake again.
This is probably the shadiest thing in the entire set of emails. Andrew knew that this was likely the wrong thing to do and some kind of breach of his position as he wanted to do it “under the radar.” He claims here it is to not bring more light to the issue, but that seems to convenient a reason. They don’t want more people to talk about the issue, that being game journalism ethics, but it seems more like an attempt to hide their actions to shield themselves instead. Going under the radar is just another attempt to silence the issue by not discussing it.
Jason Schreier, contributor at Kotaku:
As sympathetic as I am to the horrible harassment Zoe faced, I think this incident has raised enough questions about the incestuous relationship between press and developers already.
Jason makes a good point and seems to be the only one realizing what the issue is here, though what he wrote does seem to suggest that he would prefer it if the others not discuss the issue. The only reason he is rejecting the idea of the letter, or at least seems to, is for the same reasons that Andrew Groen does not want to put the letter out publicly.
Kyle Orland, again, senior editor at Ars Technica:
Silver lining: Quinn is getting a bunch of new Patreon patrons today, apparently.
This will likely also be something discussed a lot. But taking it from Kyle’s perspective, he sees what is being done to Quinn as wrong and that her consolation is that she might get good exposure and cash flow through her Patreon. This doesn’t seem to suggest anything further than Kyle supported Quinn, which has been a theme through the emails.
Mike Futter, news editor at Game Informer:
I would prefer not to be associated with this. It feels wrong to me. I think it feels very off to reach across the fence from journalist to subject in this way. I prefer professional distance, especially given the accusations being levied at us from outside.
Mike is the only one in this chain of emails to have a realistic response to this. This is how anyone who wants to call themselves a journalist should react to this situation. Of course we would have liked to have seen Mike condemn his fellow journalists for this, but he has done enough by recusing himself. That would have put him in a not so sturdy position and he would have risked being ostracized by this group, so we should understand that Mike did all that was expected of him.
Before final thoughts, here is this as well, a list of journalists who rejected the idea of sending Zoe Quinn a letter:
That is: Susan Arendt, Managing Editor at Joystiq; Matt Hawkins, creator of fort90; Michael Rougeau a freelance writer; Scott Nichols, a freelance writer mostly at Digital Spy; and Adam Rosenberg, the gaming and movie editor at Digital Trends.
Now, what is the take from all of this? Well, we hoped for more information and we got it, but it is not really what we were looking for. The only discussion here pertains to a letter being sent to Zoe Quinn on behalf of many writers. Nothing more. There is no discussion of suppressing discussion, other than not talking about it themselves, of censorship, of putting forward a unified message, or of colluding to put out articles themselves all at once like “The End of Gamers” fiasco.
In other words, the emails are far less juicy than what people were looking for. Sure there was some colluding with making a letter, but nothing on such a scale that it is mind blowing. There are even some reasonable people involved like Mike Futter.
However, the existence of this group is still worrisome. The potential for collusion and corruption exists which we should all be aware of and the existence of this group is an obvious breach of ethics and integrity. It is just unfortunate that the nature of a professional journalist disallows a group like this, unlike something like a group of professional novelists who could discuss their scene as they wish. Journalists can’t be afforded that luxury if they wish to keep hold of their integrity because of that risk of collusion and corruption in a group like this.
And we are still at the whim of Breitbart, as they hold the evidence right now and are only slowly pushing it out. You have to wonder though, if there is so much info on the GameJournoPros mailing list to go through like Milo seems to suggest, wouldn’t there be more to offer as evidence? We’ll wait and see if anything really substantial comes from this.