A Twitter user directly reached out to the new president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Lynn Walsh, asking about whether or not it was ethical for a site like Gizmodo to drag Palmer Luckey’s girlfriend – a proponent for ethics in journalism and a #GamerGate supporter – into a story where they smeared Luckey for funding a troll PAC. Walsh simply replied that bringing in family and friends to a story that has nothing to do with them is not ethical.
Twitter user Targa asked Walsh about whether or not the SPJ would be issuing a statement about Gizmodo blatantly bringing in Palmer Luckey’s girlfriend into a hit-piece, which set her up to become a target of harassment. Luckey’s girlfriend deleted her Twitter account to avoid further media abuse.
Walsh didn’t make a blog post about Gizmodo’s antics, but she did make a blanket statement about news outlets bringing people into a story for no other purpose than to cause harm.
— Lynn Walsh (@lwalsh) November 1, 2016
There were a lot of questions aimed at Gizmodo as to why they decided to bring Luckey’s girlfriend into the fold. They never really answered why.
She is a Donald Trump supporter and believes in ethics in journalism. Attempting to smear her as a racist along with Luckey created a situation where she became just as much a target as the Oculus executive.
Technically, there were some people who felt as if Luckey, the founder of the VR company Oculus, didn’t deserve to headline nearly 100 articles about funding an anti-Clinton PAC. A lot of corporate suits back various PACs, so what made Luckey’s so newsworthy?
Additionally, bringing Luckey’s girlfriend into the fold didn’t really add much of anything to the story at all, and it only resulted in people calling the two of them racist and disgusting due to the media coverage.
Luckey later made a Facebook post saying he supported Gary Johnson, but the damage was already done. What did smearing Luckey and his girlfriend actually accomplish? That still hasn’t been addressed to this day.
As for Walsh, she recently took the seat as president of the SPJ around the same time as the hit pieces were revving up, as noted on the official SPJ website. Walsh was in attendance and on a panel at the SPJ Airplay event hosted by regional director Michael Koretzky back in 2015, where #GamerGate funded the opportunity to have the gamers’ side of the story told to the world. However, the event was cut short when a bomb threat was issued to to disrupt the event, as reported by Cathy Young from Reason.
Many of the websites who reported that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign neglected to report on the bomb threat and avoided mentioning the group’s call for better ethics in media journalism. Sadly, it took a lawsuit from Hulk Hogan to finally bring down the unethical conglomerate that was Gawker, but it wasn’t enough to change the ways of the journalists working Gawker’s subsidiaries, such as Gizmodo.
Now that Walsh is the acting president of the SPJ, there have been many calls from those who use the GamerGate hashtag for the SPJ to get more aggressive in reproaching unethical reporting by larger media outlets.
(Main image courtesy of Molestia)