SPJ AirPlay was a panel discussion held August 15 in Miami. The topic was GamerGate and ethics in journalism. This event was organized by a regional director for the Society of Professional Journalists, Michael Koretzky. For more details, you can head to the website. This post is a transcript of the second of two panels. I hope others find this as useful as I will.
I ask several things of those who use the transcript:
1) Please credit this work to Tim Daniels.
2) Please link to the original document.
3) If you are quoting the transcript, please verify the content with the corrected video (Thanks to Pixel Polish). The probability of error in transcription is high.
Fillers and other distortions were removed for clarity. Statements in which I was unsure of their content have been labeled with a (?) symbol. Submit any corrections to @MavenACTG on Twitter.
Afternoon Panel Participants
Michael Koretzky, Society of Professional Journalists Regional Director and AirPlay Organizer
Milo Yiannopoulos, Columnist and Producer for Breitbart (Prepared Remarks)
Christina Hoff Sommers, Author and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (Prepared Remarks)
Cathy Young, Author and Journalist
Ren LaForme, Teacher at Poynter Institute
Lynn Walsh, Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Expert
Derek Smart, Independent Game Developer
Michael Koretzky: Welcome back to AirPlay. My name is Michael Koretzky. I'm a national board member with the Society of Professional Journalists. For those of you in the room, I've been notified there's been a bomb threat. Surprise surprise.
Koretzky: Because this is a secure facility... because we took security precaution, we're going to continue. But if anyone in this room wants to leave, you can do so. No hassle, no judgments. Anyone want to leave?
Koretzky: That would suck. Alright, with that out of the way. This morning we talked about the ethics of the gaming press. This afternoon we're gonna talk about how mainstream media should cover online controversies like GamerGate.
The panelists have changed a little bit. Representing GamerGate as chosen by GamerGate: Milo Yiannopoulos, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Cathy Young. And just as we did in the morning, we're going to be very journalistic and give them thirty seconds to tell us their life story. Go ahead Milo.
Milo Yiannopoulos: My name is Milo Yiannopoulos. I am journalist, author, satirist, broadcaster. I've been covering GamerGate for the last year and it's been the most rewarding and extraordinary story of my career.
Christina Hoff Sommers: I'm Christina Hoff Sommers, former philosophy professor and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, author of various books, Who Stole Feminism, The War Against Boys, One Nation Under Therapy, and I'm delighted to be here talking about gamers.
Cathy Young: I'm Cathy Young. I'm a journalist who writes for a lot of outlets. I'm affiliated with Reason Magazine, which is a libertarian publication. I also write for a bunch of other places. I write about gender issues quite a bit.
I've written a book called Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Should Join Forces To Achieve True Equality. And I have written about GamerGate and its intersections with gender issues. I find it to be a fascinating topic and I look forward to this panel.
Kartezsky: Alright. Representing not GamerGate: two journalists and an independent game developer. We have Ren Laforme, Lynn Walsh, and Derek Smart. Ren, why don't you kick us off?
Ren LaForme: I'm Ren LaForme. I work for the Poynter Institute, which is a non-profit training school for journalists right here in Florida. I train journalists on a variety of topics including ethics. I was named after Kevin Bacon's character in the movie Footloose, not Ren and Stimpy, and I really enjoy Adam Baldwin's work in Firefly.
Lynn Walsh: I'm Lynn Walsh. I sit on the national board for the Society of Professional Journalists. I'm also involved with their ethics committee and did help rewrite and rework the SPJ Code of Ethics, which is one of the most widely used codes for journalists as a basis when they're doing their reporting. I also lead an investigative unit in San Diego.
Derek Smart: I'm Derek Smart. I'm a gamer and game developer. Been doing games and gaming for over thirty years. I love this industry. I love everything about it and I'm here to make sure that gamers and game developers have a voice in this nice little debate.
Koretzky: Alright. If you guys thought that the morning panel, as some GamerGaters critiqued me saying it was too free-form, not Oxford enough and organized and planned, they're really going to hate this because we got no script and no plan.
What we're going to do is let our new GamerGate panelists talk for about a minute about, I don't know, whatever the hell they want to talk about. They said they want to talk. I'm gonna let them talk. Then, they're going to go back and start making a couple of points about GamerGate and online movements and these guys are going to riff on it.
We're just going to talk. Especially for the studio audience here, if you guys have questions or comments, we want to hear them and we want to try and get in this discussion more comments and questions from online.
So, who wants to start?
Koretzky: Of course.
Milo: When the Special Victims Unit... Law & Order episode came out, it did more damage to the reputation of the video games industry than anything gamers have ever done. Responsible more than anybody else for that episode were game journalists. They had not only, over the course of more than a decade, created an environment in which it was acceptable to ridicule and deride and to criticize their own readers.
But they've also... they had also... once that scandal blew up into the GamerGate controversy, deliberately provoked their readers over and over and over again and painted their own industry, absurdly and unfairly, as one that was uniquely hostile to women and minorities.
Now I've seen this happen before in other industries that didn't deserve it either. Massive start-up industry in San Francisco. Interestingly, video gaming and start-ups are probably the two industries where women and minorities are welcome the most. They're the industries that are disproportionately progressive in terms of politics right the way up and down the corporate food chain.
Yeah, they're the industries that have this weird sort of pearl-clutching, hand-wringing, middle-class white guilt about whether or not there are enough women, whether or not there are enough minorities.
This has metastasized into an environment in which it's okay to tweet things like "#KillAllWhiteMen." And in GamerGate... in the gaming industry... it became okay to say that being a straight white male was the lowest difficulty setting. Nobody appreciated the irony of criticizing and ridiculing people for their skin color or for their sex.
But game journalists got it into their head that the new sort of progressive feminist-driven politics was something that they should aspire to and it led them to all kinds of horrible journalistic failings.
Now, I've got six... which I'm not going to give you all in one go because it'll be impossible to respond to... six things that I think journalists really screwed up. I think those six things illustrate really well how to report on these sorts of movements and how to not report on these sorts of movements.
Koretzky: You want to go over those now or you want to get those guys having their statements too?
Milo: Well I think I'm going to hand over to the others, and then maybe at some point in the next hour, I'd just like to explain to you guys what I think the six big ethical failures, transgressions, betrayals, whatever you want to call it, to GamerGate have been from the games press, and what we can do in the future to encourage people to report more responsibly, more truthfully, and to avoid the narrative over fact style of activist reporting, which has caused a lot of people a lot of pain.
Because, ultimately, this isn't just another front in the culture wars. GamerGate is, in a way, a sort of a geek civil war. There's lots of people who look very similar to one another, warring over things they really care about, warring over stuff they love, warring over the stuff that gave them an escape from life when they didn't have one. Gave them an avenue into new, imaginative worlds. To escapist sort of universes when real life wasn't that great.
Games journalists have taken that away from them because they've toxified and politicized that gaming space. I think that's a huge and, frankly, unforgivable betrayal of what gaming journalism was supposed to be there for, there to do, which is to support consumers and to support gamers. I think I'll hand over, but my six points later on, I think, will explain where we should go from here and how to get it right in the future (?).
Koretzky: Don't forget this conversation's about mainstream media covering....
Milo: Sure, but I mean, you know, the mainstream media uncritically repeats all of the outright mendacious [indecipherable] so often, we've seen it again and again and again and again we get controversy... and with some justification.
It's perfectly reasonable for them to assume that games journalists are doing their job properly if they don't know any better. They're looking at fellow... the work of fellow professionals and seeing this person has been attacked, this person... and it appears on the pages of the New York Times.
We had the New York Times praised this morning. The New York Times has done one of the worst jobs of anyone. I'm amazed that nobody said so. The New York Times uncritically reported things that were... with very shaky evidence and they gave a platform to one of the people in question.
So, I'm going to hand over, but I think when I explain to you... I really am... when I explain to you the six things I think are the really serious failings, I think that they'll serve as a useful guide for the mainstream media, so that you know what to look out for next time.
Koretzky: Wow, you did that without breathing.
Christina: Hello. Video game journalists from Vancouver recently took to Twitter to draw attention to a tweet that was sent by a gamer. The gamer tweeted... I'm quoting, it's not me now... "I fucking swear they get rid of huge boobs, I'm gone." Now...
Christina: ...now just wait! For this journalist those eleven words captured the essence of the GamerGate crusade. It was all there. The hyper masculine, dudebro attitude. The crude objectification of women. As he put it, this is GamerGate summarized in one impossibly perfect tweet.
But, as if often the case with media accounts of GamerGate, the facts didn't fit the narrative. First of all, the author wasn't talking about video games, but rather efforts to censor some subreddits on reddit. More importantly, the author of the tweet was a young woman. Her name is Alison. She's a lesbian who apparently enjoys gazing at images of busty women.
Now it's the game journalist's tweet, not Alison's, that for me is emblematic of an impossibly perfect illustration of a serious flaw in contemporary journalism: the narrative matters more than the truth. Now, Rolling Stone's apocryphal story about gang rape at UVA by a fraternity... that's cited now as a classic example of narrative overreach. The press literature on GamerGate is strikingly similar.
And I don't mean only the gamer press. I don't mean Gawker. I mean the treatment in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, CBS News, leading to the Law & Order episode. According to dozens of media stories, GamerGate is a cabal... a nightmarish cabal of right-wing males who will stop at nothing to keep women out of gaming, and comparisons with hate groups, lynch mobs. Even Donald Trump!
In reality, GamerGate is just an amorphous group of video game enthusiasts. These are people who have come together to defend a hobby they dearly love. Now, some are motivated to join and write for this hashtag, post with this hashtag, because they see corruption in games journalism. Others are concerned about the politicization, the imposition of political correctness on games. They identify for different reasons.
Many are... I think what drew me to it as an expert on feminism, a critic... very much myself an equity feminist but critical of hard-line radical grievance (?) feminists. I saw that the gamers were struggling with the feminist critique. Many of them seem to me to be fair-minded and the gamers that I know are equity feminists. They are not grievance(?) feminists. They are not hardliners. They resent the idea that a special school of feminism was imposed on them.
Now the media focuses on what they call... there've been all of these threats to women. Women have had to flee their homes when they criticize a game and then they are targeted with hate mail and so forth.
This is deplorable and it's true. The press has been correct in reporting this outpouring of ugliness on the internet. But it's, in the case of GamerGate, there is ugliness targeted... both sides are targeted and the media is very concerned with the damsel in distress narrative, which is fine, but there are damsels on both sides in the GamerGate. No one knows who sent these threats. It could be anyone. It's the internet.
GamerGate's not an organization with a mission statement and a board of directors. It's a hashtag. It's simply... there's no way to police it. Gamers have tried, but there is no way to... no way to know who's been doing this. But the press, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, have automatically assumed the guilt of those associated with GamerGate.
Now I'll just conclude by saying that I did come to the defense and made some videos on my video blog, the Factual Feminist... and I've come to know a lot of gamers. I'm not sure I've ever met a community of more diverse, more welcoming, funny, creative, artistic.
Through the course of this year I lost my husband, and the gamers and others found out about it. And they sent flowers and... hundreds of... a card with hundreds of messages and notes from people that I don't know but who were... seemed so kind and concerned. That's my acquaintance with the gamers.
They call me base-Mom. I'm not exactly sure what... I think it means... I used think it meant cool Mom. I sort of like that, but I think it means grounded and authentic and no-nonsense. Now the critics of GamerGate find this epithet... they find it sinister and bizarre. I think they're just projecting their own troubled mindsets onto a lot of very nice, wonderful people.
I see GamerGate as a... as a citizen uprising like Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter. Now there are some unstable people on the fringes. But I think journalism at its best aims to tell the whole truth and that means reporting not just on the fringes, but also and primarily on the authentic majority at the center. And it's time to do that for GamerGate. Thank you.
Cathy: Oh, well I'm just going to follow up with more media bashing.
Cathy: I... In addition to covering gender issues, I also... I'm very interested in writing about media coverage of gender issues. Well, sort of media coverage of other issues that I find to be of interest. And I have to say I really don't think I've seen any story that has been covered quite as badly as GamerGate in the sense of just completely one-sided presentation.
Christina brought up the UVA gang rape story that most apparently didn't happen. This is almost like the UVA gang rape story without the correctives... without the reevaluation of that story that came later.
One thing that I want to say is that I think what happened with GamerGate is that it kinda... the harassment narrative, the narrative of GamerGate as this misogynist, harassment mob... kinda tied into another, I think, very skewed narrative that had already been going on by then, which is this... a lot of stories about online harassment of women as something that was kinda specifically targeting women. It's something that I actually wrote about before GamerGate. I looked at a lot of studies. Obviously, we all know that online harassment happens.
There are a lot of problems with... it's a great thing that the internet has given everyone access to journalists among other people and just general access to other people. But of course the problem is some of the people who get that access are the wrong... the bad kind of people who want to use it to make threats and to harass people. I don't think... I've looked at a lot of studies... that it is something that is specific to women.
The Pew Research Center, which does the most reputable studies of online life basically, has done this several times. They've done surveys of online harassment. They have actually found that, in some way, men are more likely than women to get physical threats. Young women are more likely to get certain types of sexual harassment. That is very true. But if you look at harassment of journalists specifically, it is really not a gender-specific issue.
I think in that sense the GamerGate narrative of supposedly misogynist harassment really, really became a part of this larger story. I think it's very difficult to cover something like this when you do stories of people who say that they have been harassed or threatened. You really don't want to question them and say that, well, give us proof you were really harassed and threatened. Because then you're going to look really insensitive and horrible if it turns out that, yes, they were telling the truth all along and you look like you were kinda compounding their misery by seeming to disbelieve them.
But at the same time I think we have to find a way to approach stories like that while still doing the basic duty of fact-checking, which is very important. I think it's not even necessarily that you're going to say that, oh, this person is lying. This person, who may very well be getting harassed, is also probably going to have a somewhat subjective interpretation of what's going on. Like there have been claims made by people in [indecipherable]
Koretzky: Can I interrupt for a second?
Koretzky: I appreciate everything that you guys are saying but this has nothing to do with what we're talking about.
Milo: Well we're getting to that.
Koretzky: Well I want to start there.
Koretzky: So... so first of all...
Milo: What we needed to do was setup what we felt...
Koretzky: OK, but what you set up though... we aren't here to discuss feminism because that's not what this panel is about. That's a great panel discussion. I would love to be a part of that.
Milo: Well, what you can't do is say "Here are ten rules to follow and you'll never make the mistake that journalists made about GamerGate again." What we're trying to show you is that this bad reporting comes from a particular historical and political and social milieu. It arises out of culture.
Koretzky: Now hold on. Before you... you know what? Fair enough. Ren and Lynn. What does this tell you?
Lynn: You mean what they just said?
Kortezky: Yeah, what did you get out of it?
Lynn: The only thing that I just wrote down was what Cathy said at the end about when... if someone... so if someone approaches me and says that they've been harassed, and they want... and it's by someone... and they want me to tell the story. I actually do ask them for proof. I ask them why they know this.
And you do it in a way that is very respectful. You try not to be intrusive. But unfortunately, that's part of my job. I have to make sure that I'm verifying facts. I have to see what they have. I have to try to put their timeline. I might talk to other people, maybe without... even if maybe I'm keeping their identity secret, I want to try to get a hold of people who might know them without jeopardizing that.
But I am really still asking for proof and that kinda thing. So that was the only thing I just heard that I was just like "Wait a second." No, actually, as a good journalist does have to verify those things even as uncomfortable as those conversations are to have.
Koretzky: I think one of the things this is getting to right off the bat is... where does GamerGate end on ethics and get into what are called social justice warriors? Because you guys spent your opening comments...
Milo: Well these things are not separable.
Koretzky: Well, according to some GamerGaters, it is.
Milo: They're wrong.
Derek: Mike, Mike...
Milo: There's no way to explain why somebody isn't a good person, doesn't behave professionally, doesn't behave ethically at their job unless you understand their motivations. It is not for us... we're not journalists and professors... it's not for us to circumscribe the adequate limits of disclosure. It is not for us to enforce rules that already exist.
Koretzky: Yes, but here's the point Milo.
Kortezky: You can keep talking (?).
Milo: [indecipherable] ...you should say when did it happen and start to...
Kortezky: Or I could can ask a question (?).
Milo: Go ahead.
Kortezky: Thank you. This discussion is supposed to be how GamerGate is going to communicate to mainstream journalists and how mainstream journalists are going to understand GamerGate. It's a two-way street. Hopefully what comes out of this... my aspirations are much more modest than yours. My aspirations...
Milo: I think... I think what we're trying to say is, look...
Christina: I have an idea.
Milo: Yeah, go on.
Christina: I would say that, as a writer and a philosopher, I'm always concerned with confirmation bias in myself. This tendency that we have to be very welcome and open to anything that confirms your worldview and very skeptical and dismissive of counter-evidence. So you have to fight that as best you can.
What I have found that what upset me with the way some people treated GamerGate was that they allowed their prejudices to... in favor of a particular narrative... they allowed it... something's going off here. Is that... it can't be me?
Milo: Is that yours? It's astonishing and glittery and... (?)
Christina: It shouldn't be. There... I think there wasn't enough skepticism about their own objectivity. Now this is very hard...
Kortezky: Can I... can I....
Christina: ...but I would just say that when you're writing a story, you have to correct for that... and I think most good journalists do... but I think, when it comes to certain issues that are... that are depressing right now around gender, people just [indecipherable]....
Koretzky: We're not talking about gender.
Christina: No but...
Kortezky: We're not talking about gender today.
Milo: Alright, but what you're asking us to do is give a laundry list of things journalists should be doing anyway.
Kortezky: No, I was going to ask you some questions, but I haven't got that far yet.
Christina: Ask away.
Kortezky: These may be much more modest and small questions that you really want to hear, but here's one of the questions that I would love to hear you talk about and then these guys talk about.
Covering GamerGate as a mainstream journalist means trying to do a lot of what Lynn has said. Trying to source things. Trying to get to the bottom of things. As journalists we've covered things like Occupy Wall Street. Journalists are covering right now Black Lives Matter. These are two other movements that claim to be leaderless movements. So, that's always a burden on journalists. Like, okay, that's what you are, but it makes it hard for me to...
Milo: I've been doing it for a year. It's not that hard. It's not that hard. I just did the work.
Milo: I don't know what you want me to tell you. I've listened to...
Kortezky: You're... do you p...(?)
Milo: ...listened to people who said that they knew what [indecipherable]...
Kortezky: This raises an interesting question. Do you put your reporting on Breitbart... do you say that that is news or opinion?
Milo: I think each piece it's very obvious, it's very clear what it is. You can tell...
Kortezky: So tell me. That's not clear to me. I'm an idiot. What is it?
Milo: Well, if it's a news... if it's a news reported piece, it has a lead which summarizes the story in a sentence or so [indecipherable]...
Kortezky: You're writing on GamerGate has been news or opinion?
Milo: It's a mixture.
Kortezky: OK. Well, that's interesting because, in the morning panel, that was a problem that GamerGate had was the mixing. I'm trying to get...
Milo: I think... I think it's a distraction. I don't think they really care about that.
Kortezky: OK. Well, I'm glad... I find it interesting that this is a leaderless movement but you know how they feel.
Milo: No, I've interviewed, what, two hundred of them for my book? So I have a reasonable idea of how most of the most active members feel.
Koretzky: OK. I just run this little blog for AirPlay and we had sixty thousand unique users. So two hundred is a reasonable sample size?
Milo: Sure. No, it's a huge movement, obviously. But, you know, if you're just asking us to sort of say what journalists should be doing already, you could have gotten...
Kortezky: The reason I'm asking, Milo....
Milo: ...qualified people to do much better for you.
Kortezky: I'm not trying to impune (?) your work. I am trying to say your work is different from the work that these guys will do. So to do the journalism that they need to do, it can't be a mixture. So they have different requirements....
Milo: Well I've written... I've written straight news stories. I've written plenty of straight news stories and to get the information for those straight news stories, I simply did my homework. I spoke to people, I hung out in KotakuInAction, I did AMA's, I did all this stuff nine months before anyone else did it.
I just did the work. It's not rocket science. It's just reporting on any other sort of internet movement. It's always the same stuff. [indecipherable]
Christina: No, but to be fair, it does pose a special challenge when you have to interview people on an internet hashtag. But I will draw your attention to an excellent report by Brad Glasgow in Game Politics.
It's called "Challenge Accepted: Interviewing an internet hashtag," and he charts a method for finding a critical mass of posters, go find out where they are, listen to them, ask them, take a poll, what do you think are the most important issues, where do you think the press is falling down, and you will begin to get a, sort of a... consensus.
Kortezky: Alright, let's take that point. Something they can actually latch on to for a change. So, Ren, if... from an ethical standpoint from teaching journalists as you do, how do you cover an online movement that has... is mostly anonymous, it has no leaders?
Christina is saying conduct a poll of those users. What does that get me?
Ren: That gets you the people who are in the place where you're asking the poll and who want to talk the most? I... There's no... You have to be scientific about something like that or else what are you getting?
Christina: Right. I mean, he tried. I'm just giving a few bits of information about what he did. He...
Ren: Was this the guy who asked in KotakuInAction? He did the poll that was posted on the top? Is that the guy? So you're getting guys from reddit who are active users of this subreddit. There's still a decent chunk of the world who isn't on reddit, believe it or not. It's such a small sample compared to what you're actually looking for.
Milo: But we... but we know as journalists you have a sort of sketch of the architecture of a movement, we have a rough idea of how many people are on various social networks. We know in order to get a responsible sort of consensus impression, we need to visit these various websites and possibly weight them accordingly....
Kortezky: But that's not obvious to mainstream journalists...
Kortezky: ...because visiting a website doesn't mean... I'm sorry, go ahead Ren.
Milo: Why... How is that not obvious?
Kortezky: If we're... if we're going to, as mainstream journalists, go to a website and start quoting randomly from users of that website?
Lynn Walsh: I would never do that.
Milo: That's not what I suggested. I didn't say anything even remotely approaching that.
Kortezky: What are... so give me... talk to us as journalists about... we are going to cover a story. What's our...
Milo: Alright well I'll give you an example. You were setting up this talk, right? You didn't get in touch with the only journalist whose been covering it for a year to ask who, perhaps, you could speak to in the course of who you might invite, who might be on the committee.
I mean these are basic stuff that you can do. You can ask other journalists who've done the work already. That's one thing you could do, right? That's one thing nobody did for this event.
If you wanted... if you want to investigate an online movement, you have to work out where these people live... you do the work! And it takes a long time. It took me three m... it took me....
Kortezky: What do you mean work out where they live?
Kortezky: How do I work out where someone lives?
Milo: You ask them, and if they're not happy to talk to you about it...
Kortezky: Ask them.
Milo: ...you keep asking other people. As you said, as a movement of tens of thousands of people, you're going to find people that are prepared to talk to you. But you know, this... this... we're very driven by the structure of the way that a news story is mapped out. The way that news is....
Kortezky: Yes we are.
Milo: News editors ask for a news story to be mapped out. That doesn't always translate very well to online stories, because...
Kortezky: Well that's what we're trying to do here today.
Milo: Right. So individual anecdotes aren't massively helpful. You are. at some point, going to have to speak at the level of popularizations (?)... at some point going to have to speak at the level of generalizations, and you're going to have to stand by that and hope that is a fair reflection of the research that you've done. So yeah, you are going to have to do some things like polls...
Kortezky: How... Cathy's got her hand up.
Cathy: Yeah. I think in also in terms of finding whom to interview about a hashtag movement... I think you just look, among other things, the people who are most active in the hashtag, who have a lot of followers, who seem to, sort of, lead and dominate the conversation in the hashtag. So it's....
Kortezky: Hold on, hold on there... let's take that thought.
Ren: So like a leader? That sounds like a leader to me.
Cathy: Well, sort of...
Cathy: A kind of influential member.
Christina: Somebody that's trusted.
Cathy: Yeah. Right, right.
Derek: Can I... can I... can I chime in here?
Derek: Here's the thing. You can't (?) script this stuff. And even though it's pretty obvious... we talked about this earlier in the first panel, okay? When somebody wants to do the right thing, if they're motivated to do the right thing, they don't need any coaching. That's the first thing.
What Nero was saying in his opening, eloquently enough, was... is that you have to do the work. If you want to write about something, you either do it the right way or you [indecipherable].
Kortezky: If that's the answer... if doing it the right way is the right answer, let's just go home now.
Kortezky: Because you guys aren't getting...
Derek: Hang on...
[cross-talk, audio issues]
Kortezky: Hold on. Correct me if I'm wrong. These guys are standing (?) here and smiling because I don't think anything has been... has anything been said yet?
Milo: Can I just... Can I just [indecipherable]....
Kortezky: No you can't.
Milo: You're interrogating a movement about how we should report [indecipherable]...
Milo: ...and how you should report on us(?). We're not responsible for telling you how to do your job.
Derek: And that's a fair point.
Christina: I think it... but... I would say you... how did you find us? You found us. Now, it would have been a good thing if the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, when they wrote "All You Need To Know About GamerGate," if they had sought out people that possibly speak for it. Or that the members of the hashtag would recognize as giving their perspective.
Kortezky: This is... Look....
Christina: Now you did it. I think this is great because I think this is a beginning. I think what's happening here today is what Cathy was saying is that the press hasn't done a good job and now we could turn a corner here by journalists coming and...
Christina: ...seeing that GamerGate was a failure.
Kortezky: Look, I appreciate you guys supporting your own viewpoints. But,I'm just going to make a guess here that everything that's been said so far today from you guys is zero helpful for a mainstream journalist. If I'm wrong, you guys tell me.
Lynn: I would agree to the extent in... as I said in the first panel... I'm not very familiar with GamerGate. As I think, actually... even though there are a lot of people involved, there are a lot of people who have no idea what it is. And there are probably a lot of journalists who have no idea what it is.
So when you're citing and talking about the New York Times and talking about someone else doing it wrong, I don't know even what they did that is wrong. So I guess that to me, not knowing that, I can't respond, I can't kinda say maybe this is how they should have done it differently, or anything like that because I really don't know even what they did.
Koretzky: If you had a si... if you were working at your station... you were going to write about GamerGate, and then heard a lot of discussion about feminism, is that the same story or a different story?
Lynn: So, for our viewers, that's too much in one story. It just... it is. It's too much to include in one story. We have certain time constraints... and not all the time... and a time constraint is not an excuse. Sometimes we tell five minute pieces. But even in five minutes, to tell GamerGate and bring in feminism... it's too many points in one thing.
Milo: What I'm hearing is that mainstream media is structurally incapable of covering GamerGate fairly, so the best thing is they just leave it alone.
Cathy: Well, uh, you know...
Milo: What you're saying is a sort of... there's this architecture around news packages and the way a story is structured so you can never tell the truth about this movement so....
Koretzky: Milo. Let's stipulate... can we just stipulate something amongst us right now? Just between us and everybody?
You can hate the way the media works, and we can admit as part of the media we don't always like all the systems that are in place ourselves. But it is the system that we got, and we are not powerful enough people within that system to change it. So we're trying to have a discussion here today about how we can do better.
Except, you spend most of your time talking about how awesome you are. So I would like...
Milo: That doesn't sound very likely.
Koretzky: I know! I know! It surprised me too! So I'll give you an example. You were talking to Christina about how this event came to be. I spent three months of most of my free time and my wife not being very happy with GamerGate to do that. A reporter doesn't have three months to work on a story like this.
Milo... I've read all of Milo's stuff. It is, indeed, a mix of opinion and news. So it is not something that can be replicated by the mainstream media. In fact, I think sometimes the mix goes one way or the other. It's not an even mix.
So, for instance, when you write about Randi Harper... I actually talked to someone in anti-GamerGate. A name you would know. I'm not going to tell you... who actually thought that that that reporting was actually pretty good. And that same person, of course, hates a lot of what else you write because it is not journalism. It's opinion writing like we talked about this morning.
You doing your thing on your website is awesome. But it is not easily transportable to what these guys have to do. You guys talking about feminism... which, is a great story unto itself, and I can see both si... I mean, it has multiple sides to it, a lot of rich stuff to get into... isn't this story.
And, just by virtue of what you've done here today, I think it's a very telling example. I've let you guys talk for as long as you talked because I can tell you this... and if I'm wrong, these journalists will tell me... that... if that was my introduction, as a reporter, to GamerGate, and this is my first time reaching out to you, I am not doing that story.
Not because I don't want to do the story, I don't believe you, I have an ulterior motive, because I have other good stories I can do that...
Milo: Then I think you're going to find that GamerGate is going to give up on the mainstream media because this is not a story that can be told [indecipherable]...
Koretzky: And GamerGate...
Milo: ...and it pretty much has and actually the conditions for success for GamerGate don't require positive approval(?).
Koretzky: OK. But, well, Milo, so this is an interesting point you've raised. Because I've talked to other...
Kortezky: ...hold on, one second please. I'll let you guys talk. I'm trying to get through you guys so we can have this conversation. Milo, so I've talked to a lot of GamerGate people, as you advised, on streams and everything else, and they said, listen, we don't have to do the second half of this debate today, because if you want to remain a dark subculture, you can.
In fact there are some SPJers here... we were at a conference of furries. And that is a culture that does not want mainstream journalistic attention. But me, and those journalists including the for....
Christina: What are they?
Milo: They're the people who dress up in [indecipherable]
Koretzky: I'm just looking at her face as she's getting the explanation.
Milo: It's so frozen in place.
Koretzky: But as a ... Milo and Christina... as an example, we were... we went to the... in fact I was with the former managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer... and we talked to them about... we're journalists, and what they want or don't want out of media. How they feel misunderstood by TV shows like Law & Order. Furries have been on Law & Order. They want to remain a darker subculture. They don't strive for media attention.
Koretzky: Now, Milo, you said you know everybody in GamerGate...
Milo: No, I didn't say that.
Koretzky: I can tell you...
Milo: I didn't say that.
Koretzky: You speak for...
Milo: My god is this how you quote in your journalism? Good grief!
Koretzky: You said you speak for everyone in GamerGate.
Milo: No, I did not say that. I didn't say anything approaching it. Is this how you quote in your journalism? My god.
Koretzky: Yes it is.
Derek: Guys... guys...
Milo: I did not say anything approaching that.
Derek: Guys guys. Guys. As somebody whose supposed to be neutral, I just want to say something...
Koretzky: Hold on, let me just finish this thought.
Derek: Mike, Mike, hang on. Hang on. Mike. Let's do this. Listen. What you're doing is exactly the reason why GamerGate is portrayed improperly in the media. Because you're not allowing the narrative to be focused on what the problem is.
Koretzky: [indecipherable] (?)
Derek: How they put(?) it is irrelevant!
Christina: [indecipherable] ...the narrative, so you can't process it.
Kortezky: I'm going to try and finish this point so we can talk about the journalism of it. The furry culture wants to remain private. In talking to GamerGate in the past three months, there have been some who have said and tweeted and e-mail me that they don't want mainstream media attention. And I respect that.
There are many more that said that they did. In those conversations, we talked about how you kinda have to meet in this middle. GamerGate is probably going to have to change the way it talks. Not change its message. Selling out doesn't mean...
Koretzky: ...or you can rob me again and I'll just... whatever. No, go ahead.
Lynn: Actually, can I say something? Because this isn't just GamerGate. This goes with everything. If you want the media's attention, there's a certain... you approach them a certain way... by attacking them? ...is probably not going to be the best way to do it. That's not the best way to get anyone's attention, in my opinion. But...
Milo: I would [indecipherable] (?) it difficult because...
Koretzky: Milo, you know what? Could you not interrupt her when she's talking? Thanks.
Lynn: No, but I think...
Koretzky: Christina, that would be... sexist?
Lynn: Well... well, when someone comes to me with a story, they tell me whatever they might want to tell me. I ask certain questions and we have conversations in my newsroom about if we're gonna cover it. A lot of that depends on what's the... what's the outcome and what's the public's interest? How does this benefit the public in anyway? How is this maybe going to make the community better? Is this going to expose something? Specifically this is investigations.
And if the answer is it's not going to help or by us telling this it's only going to help maybe one person, we're less likely to maybe do it. Those are kinda the pros and cons that we weigh. We're here for more of the public good kind of wide range things.
So I guess my question to you would be if you came to me and you want me to write about GamerGate, what am I writing about and why?
Milo: Well, this is the problem. Because the status perhaps of GamerGate is to protest bad ethics in journalism. So there's already that sort of opposition. I understand what you're saying is difficult. It's difficult because GamerGate's default position is journalists are crap. Can you write about how journalists are crap?
So obviously that... obviously that makes a starting pos...
Lynn: How does that relate to GamerGate? See that's where I guess I... compared to the conversation that we had with the other panel...
Lynn: ...that wasn't at all the understanding that I took about GamerGate. But maybe I'm...
Milo: Can you [indecipherable] (?) on that?
Lynn: ...it wasn't journalists are crap
Milo: No, I'm being flippant, obviously.
Lynn: I know, but I guess that was not the takeaway.
Christina: I have a question. I can understand the reluctance of an editor to give the go ahead for a story that's so amorphous. But it did not stop editors from writing with great authority about something they knew nothing about.
There were many stories... hundreds of stories about GamerGate. They all followed the same story line of women who were imperiled and bad gamers. This was written over and over and over again. No one had the least inhibition. It simply didn't occur to them to go to the other side.
Maybe they... it didn't (?)... there wasn't another side.
Koretzky: That's... that's...
Cathy: Yeah I think I kinda want to reiterate on what Christina said because I think the problem is not so much the media didn't cover GamerGate. It's that they covered it from a very one-sided standpoint which is... GamerGate is misogynist harassment campaign.
Koretzky: What if we... what if we stipulate... how about this... to try and move past this... what if we stipulate that everything bad that happened in the past... we don't even know all it... but we're just going to give it to you. Can we talk about how to be better in the future? What if we just admit that we all sucked in the past?
Christina: Let's admit it but without... let's mention some wonderful examples. There were reporters like Eric Kain and Auerbach at Slate.
Cathy: David Auerbach at Slate.
Christina: They did a wonderful job. They tried to get the story and sought people out. There are more models of...
Milo: And nobody was interested.
Christina: ...how to cover. Once I saw that, okay, this is going to catch on. It didn't catch on.
Koretzky: OK let's... these are good examples. This is something we can sink our teeth into. So I talked to David Auerbach at Slate. Eric Kain, obviously, I e-mailed him. Their beats allow them to do something a little different than other mainstream journalists.
I think this is an important distinction... and you guys can back me up... that David Auerbach's beat at Slate is a tech writer. He doesn't always write about GamerGate but he can write about GamerGate.
Koretzky: Interestingly at Slate, there is also a culture editor. The culture editor can sometimes write about GamerGate. Interestingly, they can have totally different opinions when you read their piece. Because they have beats. They have something that they cover all the time. Eric Kain, same thing.
What we're trying to get at here is mainstream journalists don't have those beats. Because those beats mean that you are reaching a certain audience that's interested in tech... are interested in what that culture writing is saying... because that culture writer might do it the same way Milo does with a mixture.
We're talking with Ren and Lynn about assigning general reporters to go cover this movement and to do that better... do the reporting better. So we're asking you guys is to talk to these guys about how to do that. So let's just leave behind all the stuff that happened before because we weren't there for it. So we don't know who was right or wrong. Let's talk about how to do it better.
So let me ask you a direct question. Getting back to writing a story about GamerGate, if I'm going to write a story about the year anniversary of GamerGate, which is coming up, you know this... Milo you know this... journalists love anniversary stories. Right? It's an easy way to get into a topic. The one year anniversary of whatever it is.
If I was going to write a one year anniversary story on GamerGate, who should I talk to? If I'm Lynn Walsh and I'm assigning a story, who should she tell the reporter to go see first?
Milo: Well it's a story about press ethics. They should go and talk to the journalists who are accused of ethical failings. You should... look at the public... go and speak to the editors in chief of Kotaku and Polygon. Ask them why they changed their disclosure...
Koretzky: OK, hold on a second. Milo, she's looking at you like she's confused.
Lynn: Yeah I guess that that completely loses me. Again, this is someone who is not involved in the movement. Is there... so, are there multiple people? Is this one person? I guess that's the... is there one person or there multiple people that I should be talking to? Are these multiple publications? Are these reporters? Are these gamers? Are they editors? Are they news organization presidents? Who are these people?
Koretzky: I guess Milo what she's saying is that you're asking her to start a story on GamerGate by not talking to GamerGate.
Koretzky: You're saying to go talk to game editors. That's what you said.
Cathy: Yeah, no, I would say....
Christina: How did you do it?
Cathy: Well, how did I do it? I talked to a lot of GamerGate people on Twitter. I kinda tried to get a sense of who the people were...
Koretzky: How did... tell us how you did that. Tell us like, you go on Twitter and you see just... all these posts. Do you break it down on a spreadsheet? If everyone had been doing it for nine months, it was OK, but if it was for two days, you didn't? If it was an egg account? Tell us some secrets.
Cathy: Right. Well, I don't think there are any se... You watch the hashtag for a few days. You try to see who are the most articulate posters are. You try to see who is getting retweeted. You try to see who's sort of more visible...
Koretzky: So you found one of those people and what'd you do next?
Cathy: Message them on Twitter and ask them if they would like to be interviewed? I spoke to several women, by the way, who were involved in this movement. [indecipherable]
Koretzky: OK. So when you interviewed... so when you... you [indecipherable] (?) them and... did you conduct the interview... did they ever give their real name or did you keep them anonymous?
Cathy: The people that I spoke to I did get their real name. Yeah. Some of them were not willing to have their real names mentioned. I think most of them were.
Also, I think the other thing is just to actually watch what gets posted in the hashtag. Because, again, I think a lot of people who wrote about GamerGate using the standard narrative didn't really look at the posts in the hashtags as much as... again, they went with this preset narrative. They had...
Milo: If you... if you wanted to some advice, for example, it would be good maybe to do what you did, which is actually watch what's happening.
Milo: It's kind of when I was being glib. I was being glib earlier saying that I did the work.
Milo: That's kind of what I meant. Rather than just sort of looking at what other journalists write and say... when every other journalist has a very strong opinion on a subject and all of those opinions are pointing in the same direction, that makes people like me suspicious. That's the kind of brain that I think journalists are supposed to have.
It makes me go, what's going on here? So, if somebody came to me and said this might be a story you'd (?) be interested in, I did what Cathy did.
Koretzky: OK. So let's... let's drill down on that. So one of the things that mainstream journalists have an issue with is, obviously, we have to get people on the record. So, you're saying that if... journalists reach out to people on Twitter, you could probably get a fair number of them to be committed.
Cathy: Oh yeah, absolutely. And it's not just Twitter actually...
Cathy: ...there are also people on YouTube who have done videos that are pro-GamerGate that you could... there are bloggers.
Milo: And their very media friendly. They're used to talking. They're very articulate.
Koretzky: Alright so... so here's... so here's... so... because I want to get to these guys. The question is, if I reach someone on Twitter and I think they're articulate and I talk to them and I quote them, how many of those people do I need? Or what can I actually quote them saying because now I'm saying that they're... I'm asking them questions about how they feel about some movement that has no leaders. I don't know how to put that in context.
So let me ask you, when you actually interviewed one of these people, what did they actually say? Just give me one example. If someone you quoted by name, what was their... what did you quote them saying? What was their message?
Cathy: OK, well, it's going to be about feminism again because one... one of the best people I've interviewed was a British woman named Sabrina Harris who is a technical writer who's involved in GamerGate. I specifically asked her, what does she think about the perception that this is a backlash against women in gaming?
Koretzky: And she gave you her opinion.
Cathy: She told me... she gave me her opinion and she told me about her experiences as a female gamer. Her view of the type of...
Kortezky: I hear ya. So now my question is this....
[Audience]: Let her finish.
Christina: You interrupted a woman.
Cathy: I'm fine. No, I think I'm done with my points.
Kortezky: Hold on.
Milo: Sorry [indecipherable].
Koretzky: I will repeat this from the morning that this is not for GamerGate. This is for journalists and their readers. So I understand... I totally get it... that this is a GamerGate crowd and you want to hear them talk about these issues.
And I don't really got a problem with that. It's just that's not what this debate is. If that's what it's going to become, it can certainly become that. But it won't achieve the ends that you guys said that you wanted which is to give these guys some idea about how to do their job a little bit better.
I'm not interrupting them because I agree with them, I disagree with them, or I'm offended. I am just feeling... and maybe I'm wrong, I can talk to some of the other journalists that I know are in this room... I don't know if it's helping that cause.
So, I'm going to try one more time and frankly, if you guys feel that that's the conversation you want to have, you can have that conversation for the rest of the time that we're going to do this. I will just tell you this: it won't have the ends that you think it will.
I think the morning debate... I think we actually had some things we could try to do. Again, those may be modest goals. You guys have loftier ambitions, but I felt like we made some progress in the morning. Ask yourselves... you don't have to say anything now or you can yell at me... do you feel like we've made that much progress here today?
This is not about reconfirming your own beliefs. This is about trying to talk to these guys. So I'm not... I'm not interrupting her because I'm trying to shut her down. I'm interrupting her because I want to try and get the information as quickly as possible. She did something cool and I'm trying to get that over here.
Kortezky: Let me ask one question about this woman you interviewed...
Koretzky: ...which sounds really good.
Koretzky: It sounds really basic to these guys or anyone listening...
Kortezky: ...on stream. Of course we would talk(?). But that's not common. We always thought that anonymity on social media... people would guard that with their lives. But let me ask you one question.
So this woman, she talked to you, it was a good quote. Did you talk to a woman on Twitter that felt that it was a misogynistic movement? Did you get the opposite of this woman in that story?
Cathy: Not anyone that I interviewed personally, but let me tell you why because the other point of view was already... I wasn't away(?) doing a counter-point to a story that had been done many, many times. I think the other point of view was represented very well. So, in a sense, my... my objective was to do the counter-point.
Cathy: I did summarize a lot of the arguments that were being made for... by people who felt that it was...
Cathy: a misogynist, harassment campaign. I mentioned the people who said that they were being harassed. So I think I certainly included the other point of view. And that's... but...
Kortezky: OK, but so... so... let me get back to these guys because it's my understanding from our world that if she's going to go do that cool thing... talking to one side... she's got to do the same cool thing talking to the other side. Not just sum it up from other media.
If you guys were doing this story, would you do what she did? Get the person she got, but also try to get the other side the same way?
Lynn: I absolutely would try to get the other side and get it the same way. When we put a story together, we try to give both sides if we can while we're telling it equal treatment. If we have one person coming out against the government on camera, we want the government on camera as well.
Unfortunately, sometimes the government doesn't go on camera, so we end up with a statement. But then we put the statement inside the package, not just as the tag. We do think about those kind of things. And I think as a good journalist, if you're trying to do it right and give the story justice for the public, that's the way you would do it.
Koretzky: So... let me....
Cathy: Right. I'm certainly not saying the way that I did it the way that it should be done by everyone. I was doing it from a, I guess you would say, more something of an opinion standpoint in that my point was to say I think this story has been misrepresented. Here's the other side of that.
So, certainly if I was approaching this as a kind of new story that I was trying to get from different points of view, yeah, definitely. I was... I was knowingly coming into this from that perspective of saying here is the other side of a story that has been misrepresented....
Koretzky: Right, but I guess, so...
Cathy: I certainly wouldn't suggest that people who do this story should not talk to both sides.
Cathy: I mean, absolutely.
Derek: Mike, can I pitch in here for a moment? It says here... I'm going to quote... "How should the mainstream media cover online-only controversies?" We've been here for over an hour. We haven't even touched on that yet.
Derek: And the reason for that...
Kortezky: I know! I know!
Derek: ...Yeah. Well, here's the thing. I'm not a journalist. I'm just a game developer and a gamer. I was a gamer first before everything else. The issue here is very simple. If the media... if the media wants to report on anything....
First of all, I just feel bad that these two people are sitting here and they have to answer these questions on something they aren't very familiar with, which puts them at a disadvantage. I'm a gamer. Nero knows a lot more about this stuff than I think everybody in this room because he's done a little research on it as... as Suzanne(?) and everyone else has done.
But the problem here is this: trying... to say you you have... writing the story is one thing. If there's an oil spill, okay, you can write about an oil spill. You can find who to ask. You can take pictures. You can do all these things. But trying to report on something like GamerGate is... it's difficult.
Kortezky: That's why we're here Derek.
Derek: But here's the thing, hang on. I... that... I understand that, but you keep asking this question and putting them on the spot, knowing fully well that it's a loaded question and there's no way to answer it without falling afoul of whatever it is you think they should be saying. And here's why...
Derek: ...which is the reason why... which is...
Milo: [indecipherable] ...have to agree with you.
Derek: ...hang on, hang on... which is the reason why when this whole thing became GamerGate and it stopped being about somebody's personal affairs and the media found themselves in the firing... in the firing line... became the target... the first thing they did was hit back.
Now we have all these stories about harassment and feminism... blah blah blah... which had nothing to do with ethics.
Kortezky: I hear... let's... let me try it this way. For mainstream reporters to interview GamerGate, tell me if this is a dumb idea. Okay? And I'm sure you will. It's a leaderless movement. I can try to do some of what you did, Cathy, if I'm Ren or Lynn. But that's still going to get me what's called anecdotal leads. Like, it's going to get me a person.
Kortezky: There are... in a leaderless movement, they don't want leaders. Even spokesman. They do have something called e-celebs, which I've learned. So what if Ren and Lynn were to do a story on the year anniversary of GamerGate and the first calls they would make would be to Oliver Campbell, Sargon of Akkad, and these other YouTube streamers? What if that was where they started and they wanted to ask them about their opinions on GamerGate? Would that be...
Milo: They'd be doing a damn site(?) more than CBS, the BBC, any number of broadcast networks...
Christina: New York Times.
Milo: ...any number of national newspapers...
Christina: It would be excellent. Excellent.
Milo: ...they'd be doing a helluva lot more than any other national broadcaster or print media every bothered to do. You're here saying to Cathy why didn't you get the alternative opinion because you're doing a reactive piece? She was doing a reactive piece precisely because the mainstream media did none of what you're talking about.
Kortezky: OK. Well, we're...
Milo: They didn't go to anybody at all...
Kortezky: We're stipulating... we're stipulating...
Milo: And now you're dragging GamerGate on stage saying... okay, if you like, the sort of press is putting GamerGate on stage and saying how can we not screw you over again, tell us how we did it really badly, and what to do next... it's a very strange format, which I think is the result... which is the problems you're having here.
Kortezky: Well, Milo, we're... we weren't there for what happened before, so if you talk... here's... here's...
Milo: It's very difficult when the other side does... you brought in journalists who are...
Kortezky: We're not the other side.
Milo: ...who are... celebrated professionals but don't know anything about GamerGate. What are we... how much can we realistically expect to accomplish?
Kortezky: OK, well... I will try to answer that. Reporters... reporters have to do stories all the time where they... especially general assignment reporters, that's the title for it, I was one myself... where you have to go in and parachute in and do a story and get out of the story.
You're not the expert. But that's okay because you're writing for other people who aren't experts either. Sometimes, as you guys have just demonstrated here today before your audience... you guys all understand these issues... the people that don't, a lot of this is getting lost on them.
So sometimes it's a really good idea to have a reporter that doesn't know much. Knows a lot about journalism, but doesn't know a lot about the topic at hand. They're going to ask you a lot of dumb questions because those are what their readers are going to ask.
So let me just get back to my point which is would it be helpful for someone like SPJ or some other person to make a list of all the streams? These are people that this audience probably knows really well, but a journalist just parachuting into this....
Milo: I think it would be helpful if... I think the problem is that GamerGate in its... on its own merits isn't particularly newsworthy. The thing that's newsworthy about is these threats, some of which are obviously real and some which aren't.
Kortezky: But don't forget, the story that we're going to do is the year anniversary of GamerGate. So it is an opportunity to talk about everything. The problem for the reporter is how to get that stuff.
Milo: I think by far the best thing you can do is go to the people you mentioned.
Cathy: No I think talking to the e-celebs would be really good, yeah. I think there's a bunch of names. Some of the people you mentioned. I think Liz Finnegan would be a great person to talk to.
Milo: But it takes a day to find out who these people are.
Cathy: Yeah, she's... yeah she's a bl... she now writes a blog on video game issues.
Milo: It takes twenty four hours to find out who these people are, why did nobody do it?
Ren: Sounds like we got a first step. Let's go ahead and do it.
Koretzky: Let me go back... let me just turn this over to you two. So, you are going to assign a story on the year anniversary of GamerGate. What are you... what are you... Based on even what you know now, what would you do? How would you do this? What do you do first or second?
Ren: Sounds like we should contact these people. So as a reporter who knows nothing about any... I've been in that position where I was a general assignment reporter and I had to go out and cover the thing. And what I do first is go to a source that I trust and get some background. It sounds like in this case, I'm not sure who to trust, so I guess I would start by finding these e-celeb people and seeing what they have to say.
But, within a journalist purview... within modern journalism world... the one we're in right now... it sounds like that would take a lot of time and I can see why this story doesn't get written that often because who has the time to do all that right now?
Milo: Well I'm a busy guy, I did it. Cathy did it.
Lynn: Well, okay. But your beats... that's... that's your beat.
Milo: There are plenty of people who've done it and there are plenty... there are plenty of people who have done this.
Ren: Yeah, that's your thing.
Cathy: Well, you know what, I...
Milo: I don't really understand the questions we're being asked.
Koretzky: OK. Can Lynn... can Lynn... can Lynn talk?
Milo: Cathy did it.
Cathy: Yeah, yeah....
Lynn: I would say... and this is nothing against Ren at all... but I would hate for time... I always tell my reporters that time... I don't want time to be an issue. If it's... if it's a good story, we're going to figure something out. And yes, does that mean that some stories don't get told? Yes. And does it happen every time? No, it doesn't happen every time. We like to try to get it to happen.
I think with GamerGate, especially in mainstream media, it's... what is... what's that plug? What's that... what is... why does, like, my mom watching at home care? That's what... that's what I need to kinda jump off of.
Milo: I don't think there is one.
Lynn: Well, that doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve to be covered, but that means that it may just continue to be covered maybe in these niche kind of trade publications. Kinda of like auto stuff, auto reviews. You don't see that on daily five o'clock news shows. Which I think people are okay with.
But if the mainstream media does jump in and cover it, I am completely on the page that they should do it well, they should do it ethically, they should get both sides, and all of that should happen. I think that's something we all agree with. And if it wasn't done, which you guys are saying that way in the past, as a journalist, I don't like to see that. No one likes to see that because that makes us all look bad. So....
Cathy: Yeah, if I could add something here. The mainstream media didn't really have to cover GamerGate at all, but if they were going to cover it, I think it was their obligation to cover it fairly. They could have just not written anything. But instead, they went with this very one-sided narrative of several people saying that they had been threatened by GamerGate, that they had been harassed by GamerGate, when there was never any evidence produced that these threats actually came from...
Kortezky: OK, we're stipulating... we're stipulating that...
Cathy: ...anyone associated with GamerGate, but....
Kortezky: ...we weren't around for that.
Cathy: Yeah, but you're asking me what the media did wrong, and how should we have covered this, so....
Kortezky: I'm asking what... [indecipherable] ...happening moving forward.
Cathy: So, if they were going to cover it at all, I they definitely should have gone to some people who were known to be associated with GamerGate, in one way or another,
Kortezky: We're going to...
Cathy: ...and try to get their point of view.
Kortezky: So let me ask you. We're... you guys seem in agreement. Varying degrees of skepticism that this can be covered, but if we can... if we compile a list of the people that do streams and their followers so that... that gives the journalists some sense for credibility because numbers... we need facts.What else can we do? What else can we do to reach out?
Milo: Can I ask you a question? Like, how should Game... if you were... if you were to come to a GamerGate or (?) you're gonna ask on the hashtag, maybe... Woman X has said that she is receiving death threats and harassment, right?
How would you want an internet movement to... to express to you what they want to say, which is: she's a professional provocateur, she's lying, and this is what the story is about... without totally turning off journalists? Every time I say that to people privately, I see them recoil in horror. They'll be like you can't say that, there's no way to prove. Well, no, there's no way to prove it was true or it wasn't true.
If the only thing you're interested in is this harassment thing, which is not really what GamerGate is about, what... what... what should... what should GamerGate do in response to those sorts of questions?
Lynn: I think tell the truth? That's... that's the number one thing. Can you point to facts? Can you send us tweets that maybe this person has done this before? What kind of proof do you have that maybe this person who's saying she was harassed... if you believe that it's not true and know that it's not true, what kind of proof do you have that you can bring to us?
We would be doing as a journalist we'd be looking on both sides. So if you bring us that, we would also be fact-checking that side. We'd also be looking at her.
Milo: So the issue is nobody did. The issue is, on these internet cases, it's not provable one way or the other. Nobody can say with any certainty or even with any particular confidence whether something happened or did not happen.
Milo: So the media just takes a default position...
Christina: Or who did it.
Cathy: Yeah and I think actually....
Milo: ...believe... believe the woman and whoever she says... whoever she says did it, did it. Run it on the front page of the New York Times.
Cathy: Yeah I think this also goes to the issue of covering online movements specifically, because in any online controversy, you usually have trolls and kind of professional provocateurs and troublemakers kinda glomming on to it. So there is certainly been some ugly stuff surrounding GamerGate.
A lot of it was directed at both sides. A lot of it came allegedly from these troll nests somewhere in the deep recesses of the internet. I think to pin those on, again, on this movement, on this hashtag, I do think was very unfair. And I think that kinda goes to the issue of how do you cover online movements.
You really have to look at the possibility that some of the behavior that is being alleged doesn't really come from members of the movement, but from people who are trolling both sides. And I think that specifically...
Kortezky: How do you... how do you show who the trolls are?
Cathy: That's not even... there are people who have dedicated a lot of time to try and pin them down.
Christina: The FBI's trying to find that out.
Cathy: But there also are a lot... see it's a difficult issue because people are also afraid to talk about this because they know that if they do... I have people contact me with information saying, well, you can write about this, but don't mention me. And also if you write about those... these trolls, they'll probably go after you. But you have a present mindset (?)...
Kortezky: Alright so let me do... let me do... let me do this.
Lynn: But that's... But that's not new... that's not new to GamerGate though.
Cathy: Yeah, I know.
Lynn: I can not tell you how many times someone contacts me with information and says if you write about this, someone's going to come after you. It happens with a lot of stuff. So that's not just GamerGate.
Cathy: So how do you... how do you handle that?
Milo: But it's not often in story that a reporter will get a... an unsheathed syringe through his front door and a dead animal with a razor blade in its neck.
Kortezky: No, we have journalists that get killed.
Milo: Well, yeah. When they report on... in war zones, sure, and terrorism. But not video games.
Ren: Or on soccer in Eastern Europe.
Milo: No, not in the entertain....
Ren: It happened to... it happened to journalists in Eastern Europe who reported on a soccer match.
Milo: I did... I didn't catch that, sorry(?).
Ren: It also happens to journalists in Eastern Europe who report on soccer matches the wrong way. It happened, like, last...
Christina: By the way...
Milo: We're talking about the entertainment industry.
Christina: ...the vituperative comments and menacing and threats... it's not the worst among gamers. I think it might be among threats with opera fans.
Milo: No idea. Those old Wagner fans, these old queens. They go for each other. They are so mean, honestly.
Kortezky: Let me ask... let me ask... let me ask the journalists. So... and you guys tell me what you think of this... so in compiling AirPlay, there was... there was a guy that actually was like a troll patrol for the event. And he found... I found this quite fascinating... he found documentation... I can't say anything more than that... where some trolls are talking to each other and basically saying we're going to pose as GamerGate and mess up AirPlay.
One of the responses was, I think I got enough credentials in GamerGate to make that work. They obviously spent time creating a profile so that they would be a credible source to the world, I guess, journalists, anybody. I guess in this culture, which I'm not familiar with, they said I'm going to dox Kortezky with all this information. And I guess what's supposed to happen is that the trolls are all supposed to go Yeah! And they're all supposed to get excited and go for it. But, in this instance, I guess the response was tepid and the doxing was itself tepid too.
So I guess the question to you is, one, how would journalists go about enlisting someone like this troll patrol kind of thing where they're not going to be able to be quoted, but they can give you some information that you really... I don't know what you can do with it. And number two, when you get that information. how would you actually write about that?
Lynn: We are... I'm just personally not a fan of anonymous sources. I'm not... I mean, that is like last, last resort. I... it's just not something that... that we... I believe in as a team we sort of try to completely stray away from it.
I like to put a face to a name, a name to a face. I like to show people's faces. Obviously, victims and stuff we have, kind of, different considerations. But I probably... that would all be sort of background information. That would be in the back of my head. That would just lead to more research. I would probably say that none of that would go in any sort of news piece that I would put together.
Ren: Right, that's just like an interesting part to something bigger. That doesn't feel like a story to me on its face.
Koretzky: So here's the other interesting part of that. If they're willing to go to that length to create an account, then you could do what Cathy did and you could get... you could be wrong. You can get burned.
Koretzky: So, Cathy, how would... is there any... there's no way to avoid that, right? If someone is going to be that dedicated...
Milo: Altered reality (?).
Cathy: Yeah, and honestly, going into this story, I actually did have some concern that I would contact the wrong person and end up being the target of trolls. It hasn't happened, but it was certainly a risk. I think you kinda watch people and their behavior for a little bit before you contact them and kinda try to get a sense of whether they are reliable.
Koretzky: How long does this take you? How much... how many hours do you think you've invested to get this piece?
Cathy: Oh, gosh. It's really difficult for me to estimate that because I'm also usually working on two or three different stories at the same time. But I think I spent about a week watching the hashtag very closely and I looked at a number of these video streams on YouTube. Blog posts. I think that was enough for me to kinda get a sense of which people I considered to be fairly reliable sources. So that's really the best answer I can give.
Milo: It's a good rule of thumb. Look, we... GamerGate is unique in the history of hashtag social movements in that it isn't not allowed to define itself. Journalists defined GamerGate for it. They say it is a misogynist hate movement against women. Unique among all movements.
Koretzky: We're not saying that.
Milo: No, I'm say, journalists have done that traditionally.
Kortezky: Well, we're not talking about what journalists have done before.
Milo: Well, I'm getting to that.
Kortezky: We stipulated that we're not going to... we... we... we'd give you that one.
Milo: OK. Well... well...
Koretzky: For the purposes of this discussion....
Milo: Fine. Let's avoid some of the mistakes that have been made in the past. If I can't mention what those mistakes were in the past, it's difficult for me to give you advice for the future, isn't it?
Koretzky: Wouldn't think so, but okay.
Koretzky: Alright, let me offer a piece of... let me offer a suggestion, and then maybe you guys can add your own. So journalists like to interview people. So I talked to... what, are... you're going to argue with me on that? OK. Just checking.
Milo: I didn't move. I'll sit on my hands like....
Koretzky: We'll see how long that lasts. They like to interview people. So I talked to a guy that does the GamerGate meet-ups in Boston and asked him would your meet-up people be adverse to a journalist attending that? Say that I am with a Boston publication and I got an assignment to do a GamerGate story. And they said, no, you can come out and talk to us. So, that would be one way, right? There are meet-ups around the country.
Cathy: Oh yeah.
Milo: I did the same thing in Paris. Look, GamerGate has got fatigue about this now. They're not as worried now because they know the journalists are going to screw them over no matter what. So, the last one I was... I was in one in Paris, I think two months ago. Somebody came down from... was it L'Humanité (?)... one of the big Parisian newspapers... came down, spoke to everybody, deliberately ignored all of the people there that he recognized who knew might give him articulate answers to what GamerGate was really all about. And they just went for the young, bewildered looking kids.
GamerGate knows this is going to happen. We know when a journalist appro... I say we, I guess I should probably just give in to this now and say we. GamerGate knows that when a journalist comes, it's almost always to do a hit piece. This is what they've got fatigue about. Yeah, if you want to come down and do another piece about how we're all dicks, fine, come do it. They don't care anymore.
As far as interviewing anonymous people goes, that is just a reality of reporting in the internet age. You're going to have to get used to it.
Kortezky: You're going (?)...
Milo: You'll be wrong more often but you just got to get used to it.
Ren: I am still uncomfortable interviewing anonymous people. This Game Diviner guy who stood up in the front row and shared his face and talked earlier? Awesome. GamerGate needs more people like that to come out and actually speak with us and to show their faces and to show they're not afraid of this.
We need people to stand up or else we're not comfortable interviewing them.
Milo: But we have a vested interest in this. Because we want named people for our stories, this poor dude's going to get his family doxed.
Cathy: Yeah, let me also kind of... can I get a specific example of a story that I think was badly... badly done.
Kortezky: Why are we going to talk about something that's been badly done? We didn't do it. We want to...
Cathy: OK, yeah, but I mean I want to...
Kortezky: ...let's keep this conversation going. This is good!
Lynn: I think that's a good point. When I go to even my boss and I say, Oh, I've this great story on GamerGate, no one's using their name and I had to only shoot their hands and they're making all these accusations against different people but I actually don't know who they are either but it involves some companies... he's going to look at me and say absolutely not.
Lynn: And but... because... someone's going to see that piece and be like, what? Who are these people? Who are they talking about? It's confusing for the viewer too.
Milo: I understand that but that's what the internet is. If you can't... if... if... if the structures of the publication or your, sort of, editors or ethical standards or... or requirements for reporting can't cope with anonymous forums and internet movements, you can't report on them.
Cathy: Well but...
Milo: You just... just stop reporting on them.
Derek: But here's the...
Cathy: I want to give an example of why...
Milo: You're not equipped to report on them.
Cathy: ...I don't think it's just an issue of that.
Derek: But... hang on, hang on. One thing I want to mention about this is... the reason why people like their anonymity is because they don't want to get attacked. GamerGate is not about... it's not about some fifteen year old kid sitting in his room playing video games. I have friends who are... who support the movement. They're... these are top notch developers. I know there's people in academia.
These people don't want to put their face to it simply because of the way the media has portrayed this... this movement as being this... based on harassment, abuse, blah blah blah. So I think asking to have faced and named people to talk about and represent a movement that doesn't want to be represented by any leader... it's just a waste of time.
I mean that's the reason why the media has...
Koretzky: She did it.
Derek: ...anonymous sources. But hang on, yeah. But that's the reason why the media has anonymous sources. Let me give you an example. If I went online... if I said right now, hey, you know what? I'm GamerGate blah blah blah. There's going to be a million stories next week and I have to deal with that.
Kortezky: That's because we know who you are.
Kortezky: Hold on one second. Let me just get back to Lynn and Ren. Let me ask you... an anonymous source in a newspaper... who knows the name of that person?
Ren: Probably just the journalist and his or her editor.
Kortezky: So an anonymous source in a publication is not anonymous to the journalist. Not anonymous to... and by the way...
Kortezky: ...the reporter isn't allowed to just keep it to themselves. The editor has to know who it is. You guys want to talk about that?
Lynn: Yeah, so I guess I think that maybe is the difference when we talk about anonymous. It's... so if someone from GamerGate... if I talked to them and I sat and even met them for coffee, we had a conversation... and maybe I didn't use their name in publication? They're not anonymous to me. They're not... my editor knows who they are. I've probably also... well I definitely, normally, if we do this and I get approval... I'm self-verifying who they are by looking up, maybe, an address to see who they might else know. Where they live, making sure it's valid.
I also probably if I'm going to use an anonymous source, I'm going to meet in person. As much as they may not feel comfortable with that, I'm not just going to have a phone call because that could be anyone. So I think there is a difference between being anonymous online completely and not even then being willing to tell me your identity and I'm reporting on you versus you telling me and then you're anonymous in my story.
Milo: That's... that's completely fair. In my experience, a lot of, what I called, trolls... mostly just kids who are bored who are posting memes and jokes and... and bro'ing out and having a bit of banter. Neither here nor there.
The people who are anonymous because they need to be for their personal safety and journalists got who the victim was in GamerGate completely the wrong way around. The people who need to remain anonymous for their professional lives have, in my experience, been very happy to acquiesce to stuff like that. I've done that with many of them.
Derek: But also, the other thing about being anonymous is if... if... it's about trust. If you go to a reporter at New York Times and you have a really hot story and you want to be anonymous but he wants to meet with you... this is the New York Times. It's about trust.
Gamers don't trust the gaming media, period.
Milo: They don't trust any journalists.
Koretzky: We're not... we're not talking about gaming media though. We're here to talk about mainstream media.
Milo: They don't trust you either.
Cathy: Yeah, well, if I can...
Lynn: Well, I was going to say that actually....
Milo: With every reason.
Milo: Every justification not to trust the mainstream media...
Lynn: I know.
Milo: ...because they have been burned over and over again.
Lynn: As a journalist, that honestly does break my heart and is so upsetting because I do love what I do. I know, look, every journalist is not a good journalist. I wish that they were. But I really...
Lynn: But, honestly, I do hope... and I know maybe you won't... but I really do hope that you get a chance to work with a good journalist who really does care and that you give, maybe, some people a chance and maybe help them along the way if you have to. Because that does hurt to hear you say...
Milo: I think probably...
Lynn: There are some good ones out there.
Milo: ... part of the problem is... I've worked with great journalists in my career. I started at a national newspaper. I was a regular, kind of, news desk reporter for a little while. I've worked with good people and many of the best journalists tend not to want to cover stories like this for a variety of obvious reasons.
But, I think from GamerGate's point of... point of view, they're not looking out at other media and saying, well, there's some bad guys and some good guys. They're looking out at the media and wondering where are the good guys?
Cathy: Well I think I actually do want to mention that story that I wanted to tell before because I think it does show what the media should not do...
Kortezky: What they will do (?)!
Cathy: ...it also shows that it's not just a...
Cathy: ...difficulty of finding... finding the right people. OK, I got an e-mail....
Kortezky: I'll tell you... I'll tell you what. How about this? You tell that story. Let's get some questions up from the booth and we'll ask those after the stories.
Cathy: OK. [indecipherable]
Kortezky: But please, I'm not interrupting you because I'm sensitive about past errors...
Cathy: I know.
Kortezky: ...it just doesn't help us...
Cathy: I know, yeah.
Kortezky: ...to hear about something that happened in the past, but go ahead.
Cathy: I just want to use it as a cautionary tale. So I get an e-mail a few months ago from a person from Boston Magazine who says he's writing a piece about GamerGate. He knows that I've written about it and would I answer some questions? I said sure.
He sends me some questions. I see that all of the questions are couched in terms of this narrative that GamerGate if a misogynist harassment campaign that wants to drive women out of gaming. I answered the questions as best I could because it's difficult when the questions are couched in a certain narrative to kinda redirect from that...
Lynn: I have a question. Was this given to you via e-mail?
Cathy: Yes, this was an e-mail interview.
Lynn: OK. So, I will just say, e-mail is the worst way to interview someone. I... all of my reporters... yes, you may ask a question via e-mail. We... I tell them: now call them. We want a schedule. We want to sit down. And that's not just cause we're TV.
Cathy: Right. In this case....
Lynn: E-mail is not... that would be in... we just completely... unless that's the absolute last resort, and that's the only thing that, like, someone will agree to... that's what we do.
Cathy: Right. No, I said I can answer questions by phone.
Kortezky: OK, Cathy, just to add...
Cathy: But yeah, on the other....
Kortezky: ...just to add to that is if you guys are looking for signs of what makes a good journalist or a bad journalist, that might be one of the signs that GamerGate wants to look out for. If you want to conduct this interview only by e-mail, maybe that's a sign that I shouldn't trust you.
I can tell you I got interviewed by BuzzFeed. The guy wanted to do the e-mail interview thing. I said no. Call me. And I still... the story still came out.
Cathy: Right. Right.
Milo: It's a very effective at defusing people who have a particular point of view that they want to put across in the story. That's certainly true.
Cathy: Yeah. Well...
Kortezky: Exactly. So I wan... before you go on, if we're getting one lesson out of this already, if GamerGate is going to get a lesson out of this, even though it's an online movement accustomed to dealing only online. I recommend, and I think Lynn and Ren would too, is get that reporter on the phone.
Because you know why? You think you... you see a harassment narrative or you think you see the reporter have a definite preconceived idea, you will definitely get that idea when you get on the phone with them.
Cathy: Well in this case...
Milo: It doesn't cost anything to make a Skype burner account to appease the journalist that way (?).
Cathy: In this case I...
Kortezky: Go ahead.
Cathy: I answered the questions as best I could and, not only did I do that, but I said here's a list of other people that you could contact, including women, here's a female game developer who... who not only supports GamerGate but actually has found herself sort of semi-blacklisted in certain areas because she's seen as supporting a misogynist campaign despite being female.
So what happens when this story comes out, it's couched completely in the harassment narrative. I'm not quoted. None of the people that I mentioned to this person were even interviewed. Instead, he's quoting... yeah, there are a couple of women who, again, who say they've been harassed by GamerGate... completely uncritical acceptance of what they're saying.
And then he's quoting a an expert, I'm not going to name names, but he's quoting an opinion columnist who writes for online publications who on occasion...
Cathy: ...has explicitly said...
Kortezky: I want to get to some questions.
Cathy: ...has explicitly said, and I just want to finish this one point, but this is a person who has explicitly said that he is basically willing to bend... well not bend the facts, but at least leave out facts that don't fit his ideological preconceptions. So, that's....
Milo: This is what GamerGate has seen across the mainstream media. If I can ask you guys another question about this just from the point of view of maybe GamerGate. Sorry, super quick, promise. What they kind of want to know is if a journalist is coming to you and you know they're going to do this slanderous piece....
At this point, the building was evacuated by local police in response to a bomb threat.