The Art of Rumor Spreading

An anonymous blogger takes video game journalists to task:

Many games ‘journalists’ have no right calling themselves such things. The vast majority do nothing but copy & paste from other sites, and will willingly publish information without fact checking a single thing or attempting to verify the source.

It’s all about being first. To get such news out (whether you believe it or not) before any other publication does, will guarantee you page impressions, and that all-important advertising revenue. Gaming ‘journalism’ is completely broken.

By tagging a post with ‘rumour’, most writers/editors believe they can get away with spreading false information for their own benefits. They are the only ones to gain from such practices, whilst the gaming fans end up with speculation and, sometimes, outright lies.

This is a really interesting experiment, and while the focus was on the video game industry, it could have just as easily been any other topic. The tech industry, sports, whatever. As great as the web has become at spreading information quickly, it also has created a 24/7 news cycle where being “first” as the blogger puts it, is often more important than being right.

And because the culture of “first” is so important, many people who write for a living online, who consider themselves “journalists” don’t hold themselves to the same standards as the people that wrote for print publications 20 years ago. It’s slippery slope that seems to be spiraling out of control. But it’s really hard to figure out who to blame. It’s very much a “chicken and the egg” sort of situation. Did journalists create rumormongers, or did rumormongers create the need for journalists to spread rumors?

It’s likely a combination of both, and since journalists are paid to write what people want to read, you can’t fault them for doing it. The society we will live in dictates that demand controls supply. As Jalen Rose says at the beginning of every podcast “got to give the people…give the people what they want.” If people are reading these rumors and speculation over and over again then that is where society has taken us.

It’s a sad place, but certainly not the saddest thing that has become of the media these days. And unfortunately, it probably get’s worse before it gets better.