This is no longer an issue of games media being incompetent, inept or bereft of the proper measures of integrity to carry out the news and report on the facts, this is an issue of mainstream media and media at large opting not to maintain integrity or maintain a balanced stance when reporting in the interest of the public. Another major broadcaster has admitted to opting to cover one side of #GamerGate in the interest of time constraints.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a major news organization over in the Oceania territory. They’ve been running coverage of #GamerGate since early September of this year. Majority of it has been ill-informed and negative save for a blog post by Tim Dean, which actually goes into great detail (at great lengths) about all of #GamerGate, surveying both sides of the event to inform instead of instigate.
One of the most recent pieces by ABC.net.au was a six-and-a-half-minute piece on the 7:30 program that basically reiterated the agenda-driven line that’s been pushed by most of mainstream media.
The piece depicts phrases about Zoe Quinn being accused of sleeping with someone for “good reviews”, even though it’s already been clarified that Nathan Grayson, a game journalist, did write two favorable pieces about Quinn without disclosing his relationship with her before #GamerGate kicked off.
The video rolls out all the standard talking points and misconstrued spin that we’ve come to expect from the media regarding #GamerGate.
I reached out to ABC reporter Monique Schafter of the 7:30 program and questioned if they would be running any further pieces on #GamerGate to discuss the opposite side of the harassment angle and speak with other females who support #GamerGate and why they support it.
According to Schafter…
“At this stage there aren't any plans to do another GamerGate story.”
“We used this as a springboard to look at the representation of women in games and in the games community, and sought a variety of perspectives on this.”
But what about The Fine Young Capitalists who were harassed and doxxed by the people opposed to #GamerGate and how #GamerGate had to fund their pro-feminist IndieGoGo campaign to bring more women into the gaming industry? Or how about Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers who recently appeared on an ABC.net.au program to talk about third-wave feminism – and happens to also be an avid supporter of #GamerGate?
I mentioned Dr. Sommers appearing on ABC’s Counterpoint and asked why her views regarding #GamerGate weren’t used in the continued coverage of the event on other channels of ABC. According to Schafter…
“Occasionally content from radio and TV is appropriated for news online, if the news editors are interested. The producer of Counterpoint would have more of an idea about that.”
(Update:) Back on October 29th, 2014 a reader provided Schafter with a list of articles and information about #GamerGate, including the harassment squad tracking down and outing Anita Sarkeesian’s harasser, who happened to be a Brazilian journalist. According to Schafter…
"Thanks [Redacted]. Not just looking at harassment – I’m interested in how the internet has lost its shit about this and attempting to break it down."
So what happened to fair and balanced news? What happened to reporting all the facts? This is shades of the CBC all over again.
Well, if you look through the ABC.net.au editorial standards and policy guide, you’ll see that the 7:30 piece is just one of many that the media organization has run that crosses the line when it comes to upholding their own ethics and standards policy.
For instance, section 2, page 4 of the Editorial Policy for the principles and standards of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it’s stated that…
“The ABC should make reasonable efforts, appropriate in the context, to signal to audiences gradations in accuracy, for example by querying interviewees, qualifying bald assertions, supplementing the partly right and correcting the plainly wrong.”
This would be clarifying that #GamerGate actually kicked off over the appearance of conflicting interests by game journalists and the developers they cover.
The reason the hashtag has stayed around for so long is because of the perpetual surfacing of implicit and complicit corruption from the media. It’s even starting to seep into moderate media sites and open up the eyes of those who are neutral in all of this.
When “bald assertions” from individuals stating that “#GamerGate is about harassing women” surface, it would seem only relevant to ask real women who use the hashtag why they are part of a consumer revolt that’s supposedly about harassing women and outline to viewers why sub-movements such as #NotYourShield exist.
According to the Editorial Policy, however, they do note that not all views may be represented in the coverage, stating…
“Impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented.”
“Assessing the impartiality due in given circumstances requires consideration in context of all relevant factors including […] the timeframe within which it would be appropriate for the ABC to provide opportunities for the principal relevant perspectives to be expressed, having regard to the public importance of the matter of contention and the extent to which it is the subject of current debate.”
Schafter does mention that due to the limited time of the segment the details relating to #GamerGate could not be covered, stating…
“Due to the time constraints of our program, we are not able to go deep into every thread of an issue, so need to make an editorial call on what is most relevant and important to our viewers.”
However, if a cultural backlash relating to the inaccurate portrayal of social topics within media is being misconstrued by media, then doesn’t that in itself justify the existence of #GamerGate?
And this leads to section 4.5 under the “Standards” category of the Editorial Policy, which blatantly states…
“Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.“
This has happened and not just in the 7:30 piece on ABC.net.au, but also in a piece by Jeff Sparrow on September 4th, 2014 who wrote in an editorial…
“This resentment of change and sense of persecution perhaps explains another commonality of such groups here and in the US: a conviction that they are being repressed and censored.
“These are mobilisations of the privileged - but those involved don't think of themselves in that way. On the contrary, they feel distinctly oppressed, though in ways that they can't quite articulate.”
I asked Jeff Sparrow if he had any plans to do a follow up and include a mention about The Fine Young Capitalists, but he simply responded on Twitter saying “Nup.” The intention was to find out if counterpoints or alternative views to avoid the broad sweeping labels against gamers would be rectified by the ABC, but it doesn’t appear as if that’s on the agenda.
(Update:) One reader wrote in to the corporate affairs office about Sparrow and Dean’s opinion pieces and received a response from the ABC Corporate Affairs decision, stating that…
"Both the articles you have referred to are opinion pieces commissioned from non-ABC staff. The opinions they provide are their own and are not those of the ABC. The ABC’s editorial policies do not require impartiality from external contributors if it is clear they are expressing their views."
"The intention of both articles was to provide readers who were not familiar with Gamergate some background and to stimulate debate and discussion among those who were. Both were followed by lengthy online discussions that provided a wide range of opinions and perspectives on the issues raised.
"Accordingly, while noting your concerns, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied the articles were in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for impartiality."
It was helped even less by the fact that ABC’s technology editor Nick Ross mostly dismissed a reader on Twitter who voiced concerns about the news organization’s one-sided approach to the subject matter.
Nevertheless, in section 7.7 of the Editorial Policy for ABC, it’s firmly stated that…
“Avoid the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice.”
Please watch this #NotYourShield video and determine on your own if these are the voices of the privileged, white male.
While that particular video may have been released on November 12th, 2014, the #NotYourShield hashtag was underway since September 2nd, 2014 and was – and has been – a trending Twitter topic used alongside #GamerGate.
#NotYourShield is especially relevant in light of Pat McGrath’s editorial on October 23rd, 2014, which quotes PhD student Jessamy Gleeson from Swinburne University, saying…
"Certain sectors of the gaming community have been threatened, or their idea of what games are have been threatened or critiqued by people that they don't see as belonging to their community.
"So women or people of different colours or genders have been standing up and saying we want more diversity in games, or we want women to take more of an active role in games, or we see sexism in games, and they see that as threatening what they view to be as their form of games."
The video and articles above about #NotYourShield kind of disrupts Gleeson’s viewpoint, but opposing views wasn’t on the agenda at ABC, especially on their The World Today interview featuring Pat McGrath and a female game critic going by the pseudonym of “Sarah”, which further drives home the harassment angle.
In section 9.5 relating to Public Access and Information in the Editorial Policy, it’s stated that…
“Do not knowingly mislead audiences about the nature of the content.”
Misleading audiences only comes from knowingly having information, access to information and knowledge of the facts while purposefully ignoring them or misusing them to push an agenda. This was made evident by the Game Journo Pros in the leaked e-mails, opting not to print facts or the whole story in order to continue their narrative.
According to Schafter, they were aware of the other side of things but chose against using that narrative, or rather, telling the whole story. Schafter stated…
“I understand there are other elements to the GamerGate conversation, but 7.30 felt that the most important news angle for our program was focusing on the online attacks, particularly towards women, which form part of the gamergate controversy.”
Even if the different elements of the #GamerGate scandal beyond harassment were absent from ABC’s coverage, another policy that stands against their motivations is section 1.6 of Australia’s regional Professional Conduct Policy, which states…
“Journalists should not rely on only one source. Be careful not to recycle an error from one reference source to another”
When 7:30 referenced Brianna Wu’s death threat sender, there’s no mention that the anonymous individual who sent the threats had no relation to #GamerGate or had any factual signs of being associated with gaming. In fact, you can check the tweets from the suspended account of Chatterwhiteman to see for yourself. Ultimately, there has been no second source or enforcement agency to prove that this had anything to do with #GamerGate. So why is it referenced as a correlative fact of motivation for the consumer revolt?
Under section 1.10 of the “Accuracy” section in the Professional Conduct Policy, it’s stated that…
“Information sourced from social media must be verified and checked for accuracy before publication on any platform”
#GamerGate is taking place on social media; verifying that it’s a harassment campaign would mean fact-checking that the majority of those using the hashtag are engaging in harassment. However, according to a Newsweek article, approximately 90-95% of the tweets under the hashtag are engaging in neutral communications. This is never clarified in any of the ABC pieces, either written or in their video broadcasts published after October 25th, 2014… this includes the 7:30 piece.
For those who find that ABC has breached their own policies and ethics regarding reporting and journalistic integrity, be sure to file a complaint using the following ABC complaint page or the Media Watch tips page.
(Main image courtesy of The Loop)