Jane's New News

GameGirlAdvance‘s Jane Pinckard was recently hired as a news editor at 1up, and she has some very interesting ideas about where their news section is headed.

In short, Jane wants for there to be “a personality that anchors the news section.” This means writing that has “humor, style, and a point of view.”

In short, she wants it to be a blog.

It certainly reads like one. Check out this tidbit from a story about a recent poll showing Japanese gamers aren’t very excited about the Xbox360:

As much as we might complain about lack of innovative game titles in the West, Japan has it even worse. Some of the quirkiest, most fascinating games ever made come from Japanese game studios, but they wither under the unending domination of Dragon Quest. A new console launch is not going to change that trend any time soon. Too bad.

This mix of analysis and opinion isn’t entirely new for 1up, which has always favored quick, punchy news stories over the kind of fact-filled, dry reporting found at places like Gamespot. Jane puts up a rather defensive, um, defense of her style by arguing that objectivity in journalism is dead or dying:

there is no such thing as writing without a point of view. okay? it’s not possible. either you don’t CARE, in which case, why are you writing? or you have a point of view. even if you’re undecided. so why not just be straight-up about it? it’s far more insidious, in my view, to pretend to be objective. i know this flies in the face of standard journalistic practice. but in my view, and with all due respect, that’s why standard journalism is feeling so old and tired now. why shouldn’t writers take stands? express opinions? is it going to confuse readers?

Jane is right, to a point. True objectivity is never possible in humans. Our experiences and opinions always have a way of coloring our actions and our writing, no matter how hard we try.

But I don’t think that news writers shouldn’t try. The point of a news section, to me, is to try to present as much information and as many sides of a story as possible and then let the reader decide what they agree or disagree with. This doesn’t mean you have to be dry or that you can’t provide informative analysis, but it does mean that you should leave your own personal views on the matter for the opinion page. Jamming a heavy-handed opinion into a fact-based news story might not confuse a reader, but it won’t necessarily appeal to them either.

I’ve long maintained that there is a place for news and a place for opinions in mainstream gaming outlets. They should both be present, just not in the same article. Blogs (this one included) have had great success cherry-picking factual reporting from other sources and mixing it with their own opinion into a concoction that has become a media revolution. I can see why big-time news operations would want to emulate this, but I really hope they don’t.

People rely on these news outlets to give them the basic information before they go to the bloggers and the satirists that make them look at it in new ways. If the base of hard news reporting goes away, all that’s left is a hodge-podge of fact and opinion that doesn’t do full justice to either.

Besides, if news sections get into the opinions business, what will be left for bloggers to be snarky about?

17 thoughts on “Jane's New News

  1. It sounds to me from what Pinckard is doing in terms of journalism is simply giving up. Objectivity is absolutely necessary in the news. I don’t want to here opinions peppered within a piece, I just want to know what happened, where, when, and who was involved. Anything else will just make game news no better than most mainstream outlets that seem more concerned with making the news rather than reporting it. If a writer has an opinion on some happening in the industry, save it for an editorial. Don’t let those emotions spill into actual news articles, in advertantly swaying readers. Just present the facts, and let readers make up their minds as to what they feel about it all by themselves.

  2. Jane doesn’t get standard journalism. Who’s surprised? Not me.I’m fine with people who decide to buck the trend of lame writing. But they’ll buck it with “personality,” ignoring (as you say) that what’s missing wasn’t hip approachability, but actual journalism and editing skills.People like Jane take the lesson from Hunter Thompson that the New Journalism is all about them. They ignore the fact that writers like HST were insightful, careful observers who often made serious points and investigated their stories along with their over-the-top antics and style.To be honest, 1Up has done some interesting work with their undercover stories, etc. But deciding to go all indy with the news section is entirely the wrong step. No whining allowed from them when nobody considers them real journalists, now.

  3. Y’know the great thing about the news page? It consists mainly of re-written press releases. Anything else is usually unconfirmed rumor or speculation. If I want the press reviews, I’ll go to Gamespot. But most of the time, ‘gaming news’ is just Company A is going to make Product B, it will be released at date C for platform D. I can get all this info from a well-written blog post, even if it’s mixed with opinion and commentary. In fact, if it is truly well-written and includes a good bit of humor, I’d prefer that to the facts-only article.One of the things I like best about 1up.com is the opinions and personality that permeate the site. They’ve picked some excellent writers and editors and encouraged them (or required, I can’t tell which) to invest their entire personality into the site. And they do all of this in a very hip, mature, respectful way – rarely dipping into the juvenile machismo of IGN, or the I’m right, you’re wrong of Gamespot’s editorial section. Of course, this is all personal preference.

  4. What bugs me more about your quote from the “Xbox 360 in Japan” story is the fact that it really doesn’t have a lot to do with the subject at hand. My opinion would be something like: opinions are good, but please, stay focused!

  5. The whole thing sounds really pretentious to me. News can be well written without forced humor or popular opinions. Save the personalized writing for larger features, previews, reviews, et cetera. If you want to make the news interesting, even if it’s based off of a press release announcing a sequel, research a bit and include facts and history that no other news service will take the time to look up. Perhaps the person who did the character designs for the sequel worked on Best Selling Game X. Perhaps the developers first game was the classic Nostalgia-Flavored Game Y. What I don’t want to read is that Company Z is coming out with another crappy sequel to a game I hated. I know it’s an extreme example but I agree that certain commentary should be left to blogs or perhaps even an editor’s sidebar with each news item. Here’s the news and here’s what we, the writers, think about it. Mixing the two would lead me to doubt the article if I even finish reading it. Who knows, I could be totally off on my thinking here and they may be on to something here. It’s just frustrating trying to find a decent gaming news site right now…any suggestions?

  6. “As well, it’s almost impossible to write without some sort of natural bias. Because of this, it really is better to put the bias out in the open, and then let people decide if your bias overwhelms what you’re saying.”I agree with your first paragraph, Karmakin, so this bothers me. I’m not a huge fan of the “objective” journalism that’s epitomized by a he-said-she-said modern press, but I don’t think that means there’s necessarily a natural bias to the news. I mean, in a situation there are facts. Reporters theoretically relay the facts to us. Bias enters when those facts are altered or not reported wholly, but that’s not just bias, it’s bad reporting.The work of people like Seymour Hersh comes to mind for good, objective journalism.

  7. There is such a thing as factural reporting, however, in all fields it’s a dying breed. It’s not just limited to gaming. For the US National press, more and more, all issues are reduced to what people say, not what the facts are. As well, it’s almost impossible to write without some sort of natural bias. Because of this, it really is better to put the bias out in the open, and then let people decide if your bias overwhelms what you’re saying.

  8. I think you can bend the traditional rules of objectivity some in journalistic writing as long as your main goal remains to get to “the truth” of a story. Thomas says that Jane is drawing from Hunter Thompson and New Journalism because she is making this all about her, but New Journalism and Gonzo Journalism and whatever else aren’t supposed to be “about me,” they just happen to often include the writer in the story. Proper New/Gonzo/WTF-ever stories are still supposed to be about something, aiming to shed light on and expose new truths on the subjecs they’re covering. Jane seems to have misinterpreted the notion of journalists pushing the boundaries of objectivity to mean that one should simply entirely embrace subjectivity, and ramble and opine about the subject at hand until it seems like it’s time to stop writing and go to lunch.

  9. Ha oops, I missed a line of your post there thomas, in which you said what I said only possibly far better than I did. Neeeevermind.

  10. Miswording on my part, I suppose. I didn’t mean to imply that there wasn’t, just that it seems Jane has eitehr become so cynical/satirical that either she personally doesn’t see the use in it, or like so many others, thinks it has no place.I have to say, I’ve read her blog for a long time and enjoy most of the gang’s posts, but, well. I dunno. I’m just happier than ever that Next Generation is back.

  11. I don’t know if you guys noticed, but videogames fall under the category of arts & entertainment, which last I checked is an entirely subjective matter.Yes, facts are the backbone of news, but if somebody wants to include an “Advent Rising was really mediocre” in a report about Majesco’s stock price dropping 50% when their CEO quits, there’s no real issue.And if they can make a good joke out of it, it’s a better read. Because face it, game news is real boring. Games get announced, cancelled, shipped, make the top ten, or flop. Publishers show a profit or loss, or close up. That’s pretty much all that happens on a day-to-day basis. That’s the bulk of news. Not every day– not every week for that matter– has a GTA sex mod, a movie deal, or some other man-bites-dog item come along.Jane is doing a fine job. I like reading her.

  12. Continuing on my quest of re-re-stating the obvious…<>“I don’t know if you guys noticed, but videogames fall under the category of arts & entertainment, which last I checked is an entirely subjective matter.”<>It hurts me when people say this. This sort of notion was bandied about at the IGJA gathering at GDC this year too (though it was just a tiny blip that came and went there), and it frustrates me to no end. It’s not at all subjective when you’re covering the news surrounding the games. Yeah of course game p/reviews are going to be all about the opinion of the reviewer, but not a piece of news reporting about sales numbers or market share, or coverage of announcements made at a press conference.

  13. <> You’d be surprised by how many people get their facts directly from The Daily Show.<>I would not be surprised, but I would be saddened.As for the comment about gaming news being mainly rewritten press releases and gone gold announcements, this is true. But I’d use this as a reason to ask for better, more in-depth news rather than more opinionated press release rewrites.

  14. <>there is no such thing as writing without a point of view. okay? it’s not possible. either you don’t CARE, in which case, why are you writing? or you have a point of view. even if you’re undecided. so why not just be straight-up about it? it’s far more insidious, in my view, to pretend to be objective. i know this flies in the face of standard journalistic practice. but in my view, and with all due respect, that’s why standard journalism is feeling so old and tired now. why shouldn’t writers take stands? express opinions? is it going to confuse readers?<>I could be completely wrong, but it reads like she doesn’t believe that any journalist actually intends to <>inform<>, but instead they aim to <>advise<>. I work at a TV station (not a reporter) and I understand what she’s saying, but there is such thing as “factual reporting.” I understand that people are often slanted even when they try not to be. But aside from game reviews and editorials, I don’t want any opinions in my gaming news.I get enough assholing from sites like EvilAvatar.com (which I like and frequent,) in the form of newsposts making fun of developers. I don’t need it from 1up too.

  15. Matthew makes some good points, but I don’t think just saying “advent rising was really mediocre” really fits in a story about Majesco. Maybe something like “Advent Rising was a critical and sales dissapointment for Majesco.” It says the same thing and it has facts backing it up instead of just one writer’s opinion.As for the day to day gaming news not being exciting, this is also true. On the web, I think outlets should get the really basic stories out of the way as quickly as possible (heck, a simple list could keep people up to date on gone gold announcements) and focus more of their time on the developing, in-depth, trend, profile, and feature stories that tend to be more interesting. 1up does a good job with these, and I’d rather see their writers devote more time to them than coming up with something witty and opinionated for the latest gone gold announcement. Like I said, leave the snarky commenting to the bloggers.

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