I am going to give you a brief education on a concept called native advertising. It works like this – the media is really lazy. See, doing good journalism apparently takes too much money. The people doing the bad journalism are looking for easier ways to make money. Conventional advertising doesn’t work anymore. It just runs off people like water off of a duck. So now advertisers are trying to sneakily get their advertising into things. Here’s the problem – it only works once. That’s it. After that, people have the whole, “fool me once, shame on you” approach and you aren’t able to get them again. Native advertising works by having a product that you want to sell. In order to sell it, you get a publication that is meant to inform people of things. These companies then pay these publications to print stories that cleverly pimp out these companies products in the stories. Not to the side. In them. It’s insidious. It’s greedy. It’s taking what little respect online news has and flushing it down the drain.
Which brings me to Polygon. When GamerGate started, people thought that all the stuff about collusion with the press was just a smokescreen for sexism. But then more and more we saw that there is real collusion between Indie and AAA devs and games journalism. It’s a real thing, and while there have been real strides in publications that actually respect the intelligence of their audience, others have decided – eh, fuck that! We have stuff to pimp out, to people we are tight with. Such as with the senior editor at Polygon, Phil Kollar, and freelance “journalist” and crappy book author Phil Owen.
According to some interesting digging that people have done (linked here) which shows that Owen and Kollar have a gay little bromance between them, which ended up having Owen’s book being pimped out in an article. See, what happened is that there was this article that was written where the majority of it was just a part of Owen’s book put in the article. The rest was written by “Polygon Staff.” Which, when someone busted Polygon for this, they then tried to do some revisionist history and edited the article. Twice. Eventually, it stopped being written by “Polygon Staff” and then was written by Phil Owen. Funny how that works. In the article, not only do they pimp Owen’s book, but they also tell people how much it costs and how to get it. Did they at least charge Owen for the publicity? Given the nice gay little bromance that he had with Kollar, I doubt it.
Why do I bring this up? I bring it up because the thing that got GamerGate started was tied into the infidelity of one person. But not the fact that Zoe Quinn was sleeping around. It was who she was sleeping around with. One of them was Nathan Grayson. A writer for several publications at the time. Detractors of GG are quick to claim that he never reviewed her game. I agree. But he did give Quinn positive coverage in a couple of articles. He is also credited at the end of her “game” (I don’t call it that. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure digital storybook) Depression Quest. That was clear and present evidence of an Indie dev trading on her relationship with a writer (but Grayson’s editor said that the relationship started the day after those articles came out!) to get positive coverage. That was the whole deal.
Garbage journalism should be noticed by someone. Anyone. I hate that it is so easy for people to just turn the other cheek about this stuff. Why? Because there are people who I am sure will defend Polygon for this decision. For the decision to allow native advertising AND collusion in their publication. That’s the “standard” that they hold to. This publication is so bereft of integrity that they accept when this sort of thing happens. How can people keep reading stuff like this and go, “yeah, I’m totally fine with this.” What does it take for you to bring into question a publication’s professional integrity? Do you have to see Owen sucking Kollar’s dick? Do you have to have photographic evidence of Owen handing Kollar money with taped audio of him going, “alright, you sexy beast. Print my story and you’ll get even more”? What does it take?
Fifth Estate journalism is a joke. A really bad joke. We need to turn this around. It needs to happen. Right now. Because with each story like this, the field dies a little more. When I went into college, and decided to major in journalism, I was so ignorant to how much garbage infected this medium. Now I am not ignorant. I see the truth. The truth is that journalism is dying a little more every day. Every piece of crooked journalism is doing more damage. Most people think of Fox News with this crap. But as you can see, they aren’t the only ones who are guilty. This isn’t totally on them, either. After all, does the public not consume this stuff? Are we not at least a little responsible for how bad it’s gotten? If people didn’t consume it, we wouldn’t see stuff like this.
Thankfully, I know that at least I am not helping to contribute to this problem. I don’t read Polygon. I don’t read Kotaku, Destructoid, or Rock, Paper, Shotgun for the same reason. Forget the hashtags for a moment. Do you honestly want to support this kind of unethical behavior? We all draw lines. Each line is in a different place, but we should at least be agreed that the place of blatant corruption is a line that we will not cross. As for Kollar, you suck at your job, and if I were the boss at that publication, you would be fired that day. But wait, never mind. If your publication had standards, then none of you would be working there. After all, the “Polygon Staff” clearly didn’t protest this, either.
Until next time, a quote,
“The thing about drawing lines in the sand is that they disappear with the next breeze.” -Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist