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A little while ago a Twitter user reached out to me to introduce me to William O’Neal, former Editor in Chief at TechRadar and former member of the GameJournoPros list. It must be said that the allegations of discussion going on amongst the members have been particularly damning. From the accusation that Dale North, former Editor in Chief of Destructoid attempted to blacklist his former employee, Allistar Pinsof using the mailing list, which featured over 150 people from within the industry, to the persistent remarks of Ben Kuchera of Polygon suggesting that Greg Tito, Editor in Chief of the Escapist, shut down forum threads regarding Zoe Quinn, the suggestion of collusion and corruption in gaming media was rampant.

While charges against the activities within the list are widespread, I wanted to give a member a chance to speak in defense of it. O’Neal, by his own admission, was a fairly active member of the Google Group, and is now infamous for posting “Who here hasn’t slept with a PR person or game developer? #AMIRITE” on the thread discussing Zoe Quinn. In defense of the validity of this statement he said It was totally a joke. And one that, at the time, I thought was kind of funny.” Despite this O’Neal has admitted to and decried the corruption within businesses in general in another thread.

“When I did marketing and PR for ASUS (a Taiwanese company), one of my coworkers casually asked me how much I paid editorial outlets to write good reviews of the products for which I was responsible” … “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s right.”[O’Neal explained to his co-worker, they did not]… “I’ve worked for companies that had rules about accepting gifts of more than a specified dollar amount. $50. $100. “

The way O’Neal describes the group and its inception seems innocent enough:

“I think I found out about the group when Kyle Orland posted about it on Facebook saying that he was creating an email group for gaming journalists. As far as what we discussed, we talk about so many things. Also, it’s important to remember that there were more than 150 people in that group and the overwhelming majority of those people were lurkers. A lot of us used the list to post jobs and freelance opportunities but we also talked about issues in the gaming industry. Basically, we just talked about things. I liked to make jokes because I thought folks had a tendency to take things too seriously but that’s just how I am.”

When asked specifically about Ben Kuchera encouraging Greg Tito to shut down the Escapist forum thread:

“In all honesty I don’t remember that thread when it was happening and only really caught up on it after the leaks came out. One of the things about the GJP list that was interesting is that you had people who wrote — and cared about — gaming culture and those of us who just wrote about games. I never really cared about all the gaming culture stuff.”

He did however kept up to date with the thread accused of blacklisting Alistair Pinsof:

“I didn’t know what folks were talking about, since I didn’t really dabble in a lot of the hardcore gaming culture. Kyle told me about the Pinsoff situation but I didn’t care enough to really dive into it.”

I asked whether Kyle had been talking to many people about Pinsof:

“I don’t really think so. I think that the GJP folks who cared about that already knew about it. I just reached out to Kyle because I was curious. The thing is, I don’t really see the PInsoff situation as him being “blacklisted.” I’ve had plenty of employees who didn’t work out for whatever reason. Let’s say someone applies for a job with me and I check their LinkedIn profile and see that they worked with or for someone I know. I would totally ask that person what their experience with that employee was like. That’s why references exist. With the exception that the applicant chooses the references. In the world of LinkedIn however, it’s more difficult for prospective employees to control that narrative. I honestly don’t understand Gamergate’s interest in the Pinsoff affair.”

While some of the threads and discussions in the GameJournoPros list was certainly questionable, O’Neal made a case for its existence:

“I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who work in the same industry talking. In fact, I think it’s a good thing. The interesting thing about the idea of the GJP list being exclusionary is that, in my opinion, it’s exactly the opposite of that. Kyle made the requirements to join extremely lax. Many of us already know each other and have each others’ email addresses. What I find sad about the destruction of the GJP list is that it was a great way for new journalists to break into the industry. So many people would post about freelance opportunities and the thing is, there were people on that list who I never would have met or known about if not for it. Now that it’s dead, we only talk to the people we already know. 

I actually don’t think there was anything unethical about the existence of the GJP list. The collusion that Gamergate accused us of never happened. The Zoe Quinn thread never resulted in anything. The PInsoff thing, nothing came of that. There were so many really good conversations that happened on the GJP list that William Usher and Greg Tito didn’t leak.”

Note: I reached out to Milo Yiannopoulos, who released the leaks, who has told me categorically that Greg Tito did not leak the emails.

Finally, I asked him the intentions behind the thread relating to the Zoe Post, and whether their websites should cover the story regarding Zoe Quinn:

“I think people were mostly upset at how Zoe Quinn was being treated. That whole scene was something that I’d never seen before. I think the GJP reaction to the whole situation was based on that. I think the people asking others to not continue to foment that situation was just people trying to work through an ugly and difficult situation. Ultimately though, people are gonna write what they wanna write.”

I would like to thank William O’Neal for taking the time to talk to me, and for reaching out to TechRaptor.


Georgina Young

Contributor

British girl, currently in Japan. Surviving on a diet of retro games. Worshiping the god that is the Sega Megadrive. I like Nintendo.



  • Kyle LondonArsenault

    TLDR version “There is nothing wrong with competitors conversing with each other in private, heck we even give each other jobs. I honestly don’t understand why people think that blacklisting someone is a bad thing, I mean I don’t know that it’s actually illegal or anything. Other than that though I know nothing and saw nothing”

  • Kacho_ON

    So will this dude apologize for falsely implicating Greg Tito as an email leaker?

  • jmgrey

    In short, a member of the SJW Office of Propaganda announced that there is and was no collusion or conspiracy to shape the cultural and political narrative games in present or future and that it was all about people working through a difficult situation. I suppose that Joe McCarthy was just having a case of the Mondays, too.

    While I appreciate that you want both sides to be presented, a little editorialising wouldn’t be out of place, since that’s clearly the tone of his responses.

  • Gary Freedom Ethics

    Comparing GJP to linkedin is very strange as GJP Is not public and that information was posted directly to other Editors and Editors in Chief, when maybe it should have been handled privately within the company. In the case of linkedin he gave, you would have to actively seek that information by asking for it which may or may not be given.

    The other weird thing about it is you shouldn’t seek HR advise from your competitors. These sites are all a bit too cosy with each other.

  • Mermadesings

    I appreciate this interview with Mr. O’Neal and find his perspective on the list interesting. While a list for members of a profession is not a bad thing in and of itself, GJP was badly moderated by Kyle Orland. It crossed several professional lines on two major occasions that we know of and there are probably several others that just haven’t bubbled up yet.

  • Fenrir007

    Nothing to see here! Nope, no collusion! No cronyism! Move along, citizen, and keep your head down.

  • cptk

    There’s one paragraph in particular that I find alarming:

    “I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who work in the same industry talking. In fact, I think it’s a good thing.” ”

    I think my employer would find it concerning if I was talking shop with rival company employees.

    “The interesting thing about the idea of the GJP list being exclusionary is that, in my opinion, it’s exactly the opposite of that. Kyle made the requirements to join extremely lax. Many of us already know each other and have each others’ email addresses.”

    The issue is that you need to know there’s a secret club before the lax entrance criteria is even met. This is why it’s different to a public group.

    “What I find sad about the destruction of the GJP list is that it was a great way for new journalists to break into the industry. So many people would post about freelance opportunities and the thing is, there were people on that list who I never would have met or known about if not for it. Now that it’s dead, we only talk to the people we already know.”

    I was reading somewhere in a very left wing website about “fillofax racist/sexism” about how women and minorities are excluded from industry because they aren’t in the social circle of the incumbent employees. For these sites who are busy slating the developers for inclusiveness are effectively running an old boys club reeks of hypocrisy.

  • Teutates

    Thanks for the time 🙂 You and william oneal :3

    The problem is just because you might think it wasn’t colluding and that disclore isn’t important doesn’t matter. Your customer wants it that should be enough.

    We have members from the gamesjourno flat out saying that it doesn’t matter that it is not disclosed even if you would live together with the subject. :’)

    normal journalistic ethics should be a standard not something you have to ask for.

  • degobabdub0

    This is a very elaborate version of Kyle Orland’s “I regret Nothing” comment. I understand why O’Niell thinks there was nothign wrong with the GJP list, but I disagree with his conclusions. The list promoted a clique mentality, homogenised opinion, and as we saw on Aug 19th, was used to pressure others into falling into line.

    Private email lists are the bane of modern journalism. Journalism schools need to start talking about the effect and influence of these lists sooner rather than later.

  • R.J.

    My questions are:

    – If GJP was so innocent and great, why have they not released the full logs (with private email addresses and phone numbers and such removed)?

    – If GJP was so innocent and great, why was it shut down? I mean if they genuinely didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, why replace GJP with something new, more secret and more exclusive?

    Competitors were colluding to control the narrative. Pressure to conform to the prevailing groupthink was immense. Those two things are enough to discredit any type of “what’s the big deal y’ll” attitude. Press should speak truth to power – and they ARE a power. There needs to be competition, not a “hugbox”.

  • Matt

    The better comparison here is Alger Hiss, not Joseph McCarthy. Hiss lied about being a Communist spy to a House committee and was able to maintain his lie until Whittaker Chambers shared documents proving that they both were spies.

    The GJP people claim everything was above board and nothing-to-see-here, but then the conversations were leaked showing them colluding and blacklisting.

    Hiss claimed to be innocent until he died. The Venona Intercepts proved he was a liar. Due to the nature of the list I doubt we’ll get any similar future blockbuster revelations, but with the way they’re defending what they did in the past leaves me no doubt they’re doing it now, and will continue to do it in the future.

  • Robert

    “The Zoe Quinn thread never resulted in anything. ”

    That’s an interesting statement on many levels. 🙂

  • Tengu

    “…The PInsoff thing, nothing came of that..” Didn’t Pinsoff leave the industry because of that. Wasn’t he basically unhirable?

  • Nathan T

    While there was absolutely nothing to learn from this article, I appreciate William O’Neal’s willingness to talk with “the other side,” if Georgina can even be called that. Here’s to hoping that it doesn’t impact his ability to be employed in the future.

  • dsadsada

    With regards to Pinsof, it may not have been a direct statement of “let’s blacklist the shit out of this guy” but the result was the same. And this was because he wanted to release additional information on a story that people should really have known about because it involved their money being used for something they didn’t agree to. To put it simply, people were being robbed by another person, gender association be damned. I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing to report the fact. I cannot see why there are people who don’t understand this. The person’s gender association does not matter.

    With regards to Quinn, I can understand that people were disgusted with how gamers were treating her (to what extent, I’m not sure since I only learned of it after the fact). I can also understand not wanting to have such discussions on your sites. But the manner in which it was handled was terrible. Personally, I would have created a containment thread with ground rules posted at the top. People could discuss there as long as they were mostly civil and the outlines for getting banned and having comments removed would be clearly stated. And that’s nothing to say of the “Gamers are dead” articles. What reaction were you guys expecting after posting that?

    And if GJP was so inclusive and membership so lax, why not just set it up like a facebook group or something? Why keep it so secretive that you need to know somebody already in the know if all you’re talking about is upcoming events to cover and job offers?

    OK, I’m done talking smack now. Thanks William for taking the time to give your views from the other side. It’s always nice to learn more about how other people think of particular issue. These differing views and opinions are what makes other people so interesting to me. And thanks Georgina for this article. I would just like to say though, I think it would have been better if you included the specific questions that were asked. The way you write each part before O’Neal’s replies like “When asked specifically about Ben Kuchera encouraging Greg Tito to shut down the Escapist forum thread:” is too similar to the kind of things that are written to take quotes out of context rather than a report on how an interview went, although it’s most likely just me.

  • ZURATAMA1324

    I still think GamesJournoPros are full of shit.
    Even if there is no direct proof of GJP actually affecting ‘Let’s White Knight for Zoe Quinn’ thing, it is a good way tarnish objectivity in an echo-chamber. (not to mention that ‘PUSHING A NARRATIVE’ was suggested there)
    As ‘professional’ journalists they should be ashamed.

    To me, this guy is clearly self justifying the crap out of GJPs.
    But, at least this guy talks to us rather than shouting misogyny and send his big brother MSNBC on us.
    Props for him.
    Let’s give credit where credit is due.

    Other then that, I don’t like this weasel word guy at all.

  • Erik Wedin

    I think Mr O´Neal is actually naive regarding this issue. There is nothing wrong with people on same company talkning but competitors talking about what products will be made avaible to the public? Apple telling Samsung what they are working on? Sony telling employees at Dell what their computers will offer the customers? And then off course we have the 10+ articles about the same thing in one day.

  • rudhvelyn

    Ya I believe thats what happened. You’ll notice that william stated that he didn’t follow it on the list but then he says nothing happened because of it

  • peori

    It’s a shame these sites weren’t so concerned about reporting on allegations when they were drooling with excitement over Max Temkin and Brad Wardell, otherwise I might have some empathy for how they behaved. As is, there’s clearly an agenda being pushed and it only seems to concern the well being of females and screw the males.
    As for his joke, yeah okay, I can accept that. We all make stupid jokes and I’d be a hypocrite to want to lynch someone over something so silly.
    The rest though, there’s clearly collusion going on, whether it’s the suppression of stories that don’t fit the narrative or a flooding of timed hit pieces like the “gamers are dead” idiocy. I’m fine with journos talking to each other but it crosses the line when they’re no longer competing with each other but keeping to a collaborated script. Fuck that noise! #GamerGate

  • DynastyStar

    What bothers me about the whole “I’ve met people I wouldn’t have met thanks to GameJournosPros” thing is that… you know, God forbid that they have to WORK to get into the industry, rather than them say “So long as you’ll tow the party-line, here you go, have a job!” He’s just sad that they can’t recruit people into their hugbox as easily. GameJournosPros is still a problem so long as it exists, Its just more closed now and we’re less likely to see leaked emails. What I’m saying is perhaps a little exaggerated, but they really don’t care about how their readers feel or what the readers want.

  • Erthwjim

    While belonging to lists is not an issue, I think it’s a problem when journalists do it because of the nature of their job. I also think it’s very telling that the list was modeled after the journolist, that that was specifically the reason stated for its creation. They could have used any mailing list or listserv as an example, but they chose that one.