Killing Rumors Is Awfully Noble But Sadly, Entirely Unrealistic
It's disheartening when truth clashes with reality.
The idea that video game journalists have to stop reporting rumors is both noble and legitimate. I started out writing little local stories for the newspapers and two things are true: 1. Reporters are never supposed to have an opinion, and 2. Rumors and anything that isn't factual should - ideally - be held back until the facts can be nailed down.
Of course, there are always gray areas. Reporting on potential threats to homeland security are, according to the exact definition of the term, "rumors." Heck, if you really want to get literal, half the headlines you see in a newspaper on a daily basis are at least partly based on rumor or hearsay. That's how the transferring of information works among humans; there's a lot of unsubstantiated things in this world. Therefore, to claim that game reporting is the only branch of journalism that commits the rumor sin is inaccurate and/or just plain biased.
However, it's certainly true that rumors probably comprise a larger percentage of headlines in this industry. And as the article (linked to above) indicates, the reasons are obvious: Websites require traffic in order to survive. In this industry, only a scant few don't really have to worry about hits; if you're GameSpot or IGN, you're not agonizing over getting eye-catching headlines on a particularly slow day. But for 98% of the game reporting world, those headlines are essential for survival. It's unfortunate but unless someone has a solution to this problem, the rumors will persist out of sheer necessity.
The bottom line is that the Internet isn't a newspaper. People talk...or rather, "talk." Whatever, they communicate, right? In order to get traffic, you need to get those people talking. You need to light up the message boards and forums; not just the comment section of your own website. Now, in one respect, this is bad form in the journalism world. That much is plain. But on the other hand, the Internet demands new rules and hence, may not necessarily ascribe to the same set of print-based rules for the trade. In a field that interacts with its readers probably more than any other industry, that interaction is critical.
We at PSXE try to only report big-time rumors, or rumors that are exclusive to our ears. Beyond that, it's mostly just about getting a discussion going when it comes to various headlines. It's the way of the world right now. And while my background tells me a lot of this would be frowned on elsewhere, I'm not entirely certain that rumors and discussion-generating topics are altogether a bad thing.
6/21/2012 9:20:07 PM Ben Dutka