Gaming vs Sports and the Main Stream Media

Bloggers. Triple Sexy.

In my other life, the one at home, we are a household that consists of a sports fan (my husband), two gamers (myself and our  daughter) and one as-of-yet-to-be-determined – Dougie was born last Wednesday.  Baby pictures? Well if you insist.  

Although we have diverse passions, my husband and I both genuinely support each other in what the other person does. And I like sports, so, I try to keep as plugged into the scene as much as I can.

Last week there was a conversation via Twitter regarding Main Stream Media (MSM) vs. Blogs and Bloggers over at Pension Plan Puppets – a large sports blog dedicated to the Toronto Maple Leafs (that’s hockey). In the sports world there is a heated debate: should blogs and bloggers get “accreditation” i.e. be allowed into the dressing room and be in the scrums post-game. At what point should a blog be treated like MSM?

The argument “for” bloggers gaining accreditation is that bloggers obviously fill a niche that the MSM has not been able to fulfill; it can be argued that bloggers often give more insight and analysis than the MSM. Bloggers will also say that while they may not report to an editor-in-chief, people will pick up on which bloggers have substance, and which are just rumour mongers and hacks. They aren’t accountable to an editor, but to their audience. In fact, many bloggers are associated with a larger organization, and so are accountable to someone.

Bloggers are not just dudes in their Mom’s basement. Some of these bloggers have honest to goodness journalism experience and can probably do just as good a job as any other reporter, but for whatever reason, the blogger has chosen to be a blogger. Yes, bloggers may have bias, but often they are very open with their bias. You don’t go to a Toronto Maple Leafs humour blog to read keen insight into the Habs’ training camp.

The argument “for” accreditation: Bloggers are the new wave of citizen journalism. MSM are dinosaurs. 

The argument “against” the accreditation of bloggers is that, well, bloggers are just dudes living in their Mom’s basement. Okay, that’s unfair, but there is some truth there. Bloggers are often not professional media types and may not know how to handle themselves in some situations. They can lie, or they can just ask/say/do stupid, unprofessional things theoretically without consequence. They don’t need to follow the same rules as MSM, such as verifying sources and fact checking. MSM are answerable in part to outside oversight – Ontario Press Council  for example – while bloggers are merely answerable to their pageviews. Create controversy and crap stories and voila! Pageviews.

Another argument against accreditation comes from bloggers themselves: why do we NEED accreditation? Do we need to be the guy who goes into the locker room to get the “Well, I owe all this to my Team, they are the best bunch of guys.” type stock quotes, when we could be the guy poking fun at professional athletes?

As per Mainstream Media: Bloggers are potentially unprofessional hacks who have no oversight. and they live in their Mom’s basement.

So I am reading the debate; sitting back while MSM mix it up with bloggers; watching the bloggers unleash the Twitter Hounds is always a good time. The odd things is, gamers will never have this debate. In gaming, we HAVE no main stream media.

My newspaper devotes more space to birding than to gaming.

Entertainment Tonight and the like go on and on about Hollywood releases, but never mention gaming.

If I want to get gaming information I can get a subscription to a magazine, so yes. There is gaming MSM, however, like some paper publications these are going the way of the dodo. I can also get a few cable channels that devote their time to geek endeavours. But nothing like ESPN, TSN, Sunday Ticket and the like. And definitely nothing like the 24 hour news machine (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the like)

I think the closest we may have to MSM are sites such as IGN. They get and post all the gaming news, reviews and previews. But this type of journalism can hardly be called mainstream: there is no print version. And there is that do-it-yourselfness that comes with a gaming news site that the MSM finds unappealing.  There are many people, who, much like straight bloggers, do this type of work in their spare time. They push gaming news stories further by finding them, linking to them, retweeting them and so on. Like blogs, they are a labour of love and passion. Good (and lucky) ones get noticed (check the blogroll…) bad ones don’t.

I would suggest (although I don’t have the numbers to back me up) most of our information and insight, comes not from gaming MSM, but from blogs. In fact, blogs ARE our MSM. Kotaku is a blog. Some would argue that the game news sites that I mentioned previously are in fact, blogs. The most important parts of these sites are not necessarily the content, but the “post your comment” button.

The downside is that sometimes our media, well, isn’t that professional. From cheering in the pressbox, to freaking out over free crap at E3, to pictures with booth babes, and plain old journalistic screw ups, there are things that game bloggers do that would make MSM journalists hang their heads. There is a sense that all gaming sites do is push around the same old links.

So what is the upside to all this? I can get news and insight anywhere I can find it. I enjoy exploring many different opinions and seeing what is out there. As a consequence of gaming journalism being blog-heavy, the publishers and developers for the gaming industry is probably the most open with social media than almost any other entertainment stream. We are on the bleeding edge of social media. There are developer blogs, gaming personalities on twitter, heck: if you don’t want to start a blog, but want to write an article you can do that too. We are an example how it can be done right.

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  • temjinzero  On September 2, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I would argue that in terms of video games, the internet IS the Main Stream of Media for them, and that we, the bloggers, and even the large sites like IGN, Joystiq, 1UP, Kotaku, etc… are simply all the various news channels.

    You’re right. We lack some sort of accountability and credibility as publications, but everyone, even print media had to build their reputation someway. Digital Media and Technology are relatively new areas of reporting and I think that it is important that we, as channels of that information, do our best to provide unique insights into the areas we write about, to show that we are indeed the Main Stream Media of gaming.

  • Tim B.  On September 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

    It basically boils down to who you know and how popular your blog is. I read several blogs, but not many are “well known” and are really good places for video game news and information. On the other hand, I’ve seen sites that are “main stream” and just throw in a couple of sentences and call it a day. When should a blog be considered mainstream, I have no idea. I do know this, however, if a douchebag like Perez Hilton can make it, then we gamers that blog have a chance at “The Show”.

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