Esports Investigative Journalism Will Never Be Like That of Conventional Sports

Bleda 2018-06-16 06:09:19
The Thursday before last, prominent investigative journalist, DeKay, was accused of lying in regard to a story about draken remaining on NiP and likely returning to play for the team at a future date. “Okay, so what? NiP are giving draken a break, and if the line-up with Lekr0 works out, then they’ll keep Lekr0 instead? What’s the big deal here?” That is exactly right: what is the big deal here? There is no big deal. This is just a mundane story. It is in no way earth-shattering, but it does have relevance to the public, hence why it was reported on. Nonetheless, some fans are still going to think that DeKay has made up the story just because he doesn’t show his sources—often a major violation of journalistic ethics. Before we get further into the story. It is important that I explain the need to keep a source anonymous. This really isn’t complicated stuff, but maybe, there are some younger readers out there who aren’t too familiar with journalism—keep note of this fact as it will come up again later. Journalists are kind of like public servants. They report on information that concerns the public, and they report on it in the most impartial way they can. With the controversies over fake news in the past few years, you can see that isn’t always the case, but with the vitriolic reaction to fake news, you can also see that fake news is a major ethical violation. Journalists are also supposed to strictly report on information that concerns the public. This would preclude credible journalists from reporting on a certain rock star who has been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction as it has zero relevance to the public. What they can report on though is a rockstar, one other than the rockstar with ED, having raped a fan. Journalists are supposed to preserve the anonymity of their sources because, if their identity were revealed, they could suffer financial, legal, and social consequences. Leaking information to a journalist may ethically be the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean that the judge, the leaker’s colleagues, or their employer will see it that way. Therefore, in a field where the reporter depends on their reputation in order to get secret information, the journalist has an interest of their own in protecting their sources, otherwise no one will be willing to give them the information. Where investigative reporting in esports diverges from that of conventional sports is in the quality of the report. While there have been sports journalists who have broken significant stories, such as “Deflategate,” the typical insider reporting has a much worse track record than the reporting in esports. On the last By The Numbers episode, Richard Lewis stated: “It doesn’t work like this in sports. Have you ever seen the back page of a newspaper, right? It’s just full of transfer rumors and gossip and this guy—the standard is actually lower than in esports. I say this month after month. It’s just ‘We saw Lionel Messi having a Fizzio at Middlesbrough, like he’s gonna join Middlesbrough out of nowhere in a shock move.’ And that will just be published. And the player doesn’t come out and refute it. His teammates don’t come out and refute it. Neither team comes out and refutes it. If they get asked specifically at a press conference, they may address it. But they just understand that, that is the nature of the game that people will speculate and report based on the information they’ve got. The average sports journalist has a way worse ratio of accuracy to false stories than the average esports reporter, and yet you get raked over the coals over meaningless shit like this. It’s fucking so stupid.” Of all the issues to get worked up about in sports, reported roster moves are among the most minor things. Fans kill rival fans in sports, something completely unheard of in esports. I can’t even recall a single instance of fans getting into a fistfight. Yet esports fans will work themselves into a frenzy over someone giving them a heads-up. Getting back to the story at hand, not only is this such an insignificant story to risk one’s career and reputation on, but revealing his sources would be a violation of journalistic ethics and go against common sense. The credibility of a journalist and their reports come from their record, not the information that they are privileged to. And DeKay does indeed have a great record as far as reporting stories go. All of his stories have materialized or have been verified to have been true at the time. DeKay eventually revealed a screenshot of a Skype conversation between the NiP CEO and someone else. DeKay had gotten consent from his source to reveal this screenshot, but he might as well not even have bothered. NiP players and people within the organization vehemently denied these “rumors,” and that’s who the fans decided to believe. Even though the Virtus.pro management had recently been proven to be lying about the imminent departure of TaZ and DeKay’s request for comment, fans still took their side, and it was for no other discernable reason than being a fan of that team. These issues—not believing DeKay despite his good track record, siding with the team even though they are clearly lying, and demanding sources—are all, in my mind, due to the demographic we are dealing with. According to an estimate Thorin has mentioned a few times before, most fans of esports have only been following the game for a matter of months. They find a game, get hooked, and get so hooked that they find themselves watching esports. And for a large percentage of people, their interest wanes after a time. They may move onto another esport, or maybe, they won’t. The point is that most Counter-Strike fans haven’t even witnessed Luminosity win their first Major, nor have the more ignorant fans been given enough time to appreciate an investigative journalist’s track record. If and when they finally do depart, the knowledge they have gained will all be for nought as a new, ignorant fan will have taken their place. Among the conventional sports crowd, there are fans who are 80 or 90 years old. There is no such thing in esports. John Wooden, a historic hall of fame college basketball player and coach, coached until age 65 and died at age 99. In Counter-Strike, our oldest player is TaZ at age 32, and by far the oldest community figure is SirScoots at age 51. The demographic of sports fans means that many will have been around for a long time, as long as they can remember in many cases, but the advanced age of many sports fans also has another effect. Not only are esports fans new to the esport, but many of them are also new to life. When compared to a more age-diverse community, like sports, it makes sense why those who are into esports, typically young people, will lack an understanding of journalistic ethics and common sense. They just haven’t watched or read the news. Due to a largely migratory and young fanbase, journalistic ethics need to be explained over and over again and misunderstandings due to the ignorance of fans are incessant. These problems are never ceasing because of the effect that echo chambers have. In an echo chamber, misinformed and uninformed people get unjustified validation for holding a wrong belief, compounding the problem. There just aren’t enough people to step in and tell the kids what’s what. ______ I don’t believe that investigative journalists will encounter the problems regarding fans in the long-run, but it really will take a long time for that to happen. While I believe the esports viewer base will get older, that is going to take a long time as many fans will lose interest and pursue other activities, like dating or raising a family. One problem when it comes to understanding investigative journalism that is unavoidable is that there will always be a migratory fanbase as new games will always be coming out, which definitely is not the case with conventional sports. Therefore, you won’t be able to combat these issues surrounding insider reporting just based on one’s track record alone as fans will need to be exposed to proven story after proven story. Investigative reporting in esports is not dead, and it isn’t going to die anytime soon. Investigative esports reporting has laid claim to something insider sports reporting won’t ever be able to—near perfect accuracy. As Richard Lewis stated, “The average sports journalist has a way worse ratio of accuracy to false stories than the average esports reporter,” and that’s why esports transfer reports are getting to the front page of reddit, such as Jacob Wolf’s report on Koo Tigers, and sports gossip is relegated to the back page. Young, ignorant fans are almost always crying for esports to become like the mainstream, for themselves to validated in some strange way, but this is one area where I am glad to say esports is never going to be like the mainstream. Image credit: The Economist, @dekay, UCLA Optimists, Follow the author for more on Twitter at @Bleda412.

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