You want honesty in your media outlets, yes? Naturally. The only real problem with editorials like this one — or the one that was similarly phrased by Shoe a few years back — is that it implies wrongdoing everywhere else. “This is why I trust EGM,” say many of the comments, as if nobody else can be trusted. “The one thing we need in this industry: HONESTY.”
So…I guess that makes me dishonest by association? Once again, Shoe’s editorials suggest that he’s the last bastion of decency in a world gone mad with corruption. I like Shoe and I always have; he’s a very upstanding guy as well as an writer and editor who knows his stuff. And granted, this is an opinion; it’s an editorial piece discussed on a personal blog, just like this one. But I feel loaded phrases like “you’d be surprised” and casting mysterious aspersions at every publication that isn’t a Ziff one hurts a lot of innocent people rather than bringing the unethical folks he’s thinking about to justice. Way to spread that fear, uncertainty, and doubt — if not outright bias.
This wasn’t always the case everywhere I worked (I’ve unlearned some bad habits over the years), but everything Shoe describes as Ziff’s strict ethical policies are commonplace at my office, so much so that they don’t even get discussed. I went on a trip last week to see a lot of games. My hotel, airfare, and food were on company credit cards or my personal ones, due to be reimbursed. A few weeks back, we got a Halo 3 Zune too; it was immediately given away on our podcast. We didn’t say “We got something we can’t keep due to our strict moral code.” We said “Microsoft was nice enough to send us a Zune, and it could be yours.” A few months back I was offered a really nice DirectX 10 video card by Microsoft for coming to a press event, and I had to say “I can’t accept that.” They were stunned (and disappointed — the PR team was really happy to have put together the little thank-you bag), but they understood that I was following the rules. I thanked them for their generosity all the same.
Basically, everything I see in the article makes me say “me, too.” Hell, my name’s even Dan; did I write it and not remember? Probably not; I think I was writing about games or something instead.
Future has the same exact policies about this stuff as Ziff. We’re just not tooting our own horn about it. That doesn’t mean we’re guilty simply because we’re not the first to say “I’m innocent.” But that’s the implication, and that’s quite definitely the message that was taken to heart by the readers who left comments.
We were talking about ethics and responsibility among game journalists, right?