Does Gaming Journalism Avoid The Tough Questions?

“Has the situation got so bad that executives are surprised when journalists ask questions that are hard to answer?”

~ Joystiq

“We’re far too obsessed with catering to our PR contacts instead of supplying our readers (who should be our primary focus) with refreshing editorial.”

~ GameDaily

“As a result, most, nay, all of my peers, including myself, write not only for our audience, but for each other.”

~ Gamer Limit

“What I think makes this so hard for everyone involved, including any MMO player, is that the parent publisher kept smiling, shaking hands, and affirming to us that any fears we had were ill-founded and completely wrong. Yet, they still felt free to turn around, shoot the staff in the foot, and then point and say, “Look, it’s dying! Really!””

~ Massively

How many times have you read an interview between a studio developer and a journalist concerning a rather controversial and negative issue, where the journalist almost apologetically asks about the issue in a lowball kind of way, and then meekly accepts whatever carefully hedged doubletalk response comes back?

It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens far too often for my taste.  I’ve long come to suspect that gaming journalism is, to put it bluntly, afraid to ask the tough questions and demand straight-forward answers.

It’s not like this is a new thought to me or others.  One of Penny Arcade’s strips from 2006 — “The Partial Revolution” (language warning) — and their attached blog post tackled this subject specifically, and it opened my eyes a bit to how this back-and-forth between journalists and studios/devs/PR reps typically go.  Again, not always, but typically.  In magazines and now on major gaming websites, it’s as if the writers are genuinely afraid of offending their interview subjects, which results in a dancing around of thorny topics and pulled punches when full force is called for.

Now, I’m not a professional journalist by any means, and I’m not naive to how this works elsewhere.  Sure, there’s always a bit of give-and-take between journalists hungry for the real story, and information holders who don’t want to expose all.  If the journalist pushes too far too often, then they are seen as aggressive and hostile, which makes the subject get defensive and angry in return.  If the interview subject is too cagey and vague, then they’re less likely to get the good PR they so want.  Heck, you see this at every White House briefing since TV started recording them.

As gaming journalism struggles to find legitimacy in the eyes of the larger news media, it only hurts their cause to lob softball after softball at games studios instead of doing their job and getting to the truth of the matter, even if that means ruffling feathers.  Even if that means getting blacklisted because you end up reporting something that isn’t on the company’s marketing talking points.  Even if, and this is a BIG “if”, it costs them advertising revenue from the same company.

I’d also like to see journalists follow up on these tough questions (which usually never happens) if the subject is employing vague marketing speak (which usually often happens), like so:

INTERVIEWER: [tough question]

SUBJECT: [vague response]

INTERVIEWER: [presses them for more clarification or confronts them with substantiated info]

Out of the many Star Trek Online interviews done prior to launch, MMORPGITALIA’s stuck out at me like a sore thumb because they aren’t doing the song-and-dance of soft journalism.  Read it through — they’ve identified several serious issues with the Klingon faction, as noted by themselves and players, and they’re downright blunt in asking what should be asked, instead of framing it in flowery niceness.  They’re not mean about it, they’re not bearing a grudge, they’re just pursuing a story that’s of interest to their readers and they’re not willing to back down because of that.

I had a talk with a friend (who preferred to remain nameless due to connections in the industry) about this subject, and he agreed that there’s a lot of this going around.  Part of the problem, he said, is that the gaming industry (and MMORPG genre in particular) is so small and incestuous that everyone knows everyone.  Journalists like to be “pals” with the developers and establish mutually beneficial relationships that will keep the information flowing to their sites — as long as it doesn’t offend, is the unwritten rule.  As long as they say more good than bad, and downplay the bad if at all possible.  More often than not, the real story never surfaces, because the payback — against employees who speak up, against journalism sites who publish it — is seen as not worth the trouble.

Let me get this one thing straight — developers and community managers and any employee of MMO studios can and often are delightful people and fellow game enthusiasts.  They’re great to get to know as people and often have a lot of passion for what they’re working on.  But that doesn’t mean they’re always being transparent and open; to the contrary, any journalist has to begin from the position that “communication with the individuals who make our games are shielded, their second skins those of the PR firms that protect them from the rabid media.” (Gamer Limit)

I understand it’s not a black and white stance that journalists can always take, but my feeling is that, as a whole, the gaming media is erring too much on the side of “the benefit of the doubt” in favor of the gaming companies, and not nearly enough investigative reporting that seeks to draw out the truth whether it be happy or not.  Game companies might get savaged by bloggers and forumgoers, but journalists are safer ground — and they’re used to being fawned over.  Many times you see the harsher questions come out in editorials instead of interviews, which is unfortunate as the former is done without the company in the room.

This is why game review sites have lost so much legitimacy with readers — who are just sick to death of most games scoring a safe “7” — and who are clearly terrified of offending readers and game developers alike with a purely honest review.  This is why Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation has become such an internet phenomenon, because his brutal, funny and often profane examinations of games don’t let the titles off the hook just because of popular opinion or because he’s afraid of being blacklisted or upsetting developers.  He writes for the people first, and I can respect that.  Of course, he doesn’t have to deal with getting advance information about upcoming games, either.

Happily, it’s not all doom and gloom on this front.  Some sites and blogs are showing a backbone and tackling tough topics, even if it doesn’t always please the PR guys, and that builds up loyalty in readers who, like myself, are hungry for something beyond the same-old, same-old PR rehash.  In the lightning-fast age of the Internet, whoever has an exclusive will only hold that information for a couple minutes (if that) before it’s broken down, analyzed and repeated across the world on hundreds of other sites.  Getting the news first is becoming less relevant than getting the facts right and going after the real story, and readers are voting with their attention as to who does this the best.

A Second Opinion – Massively’s Shawn Schuster

I asked Shawn Schuster from Massively to look over this article and add any comments from his perspective, and he had the following to say:

I believe that a topic like this depends on a few important factors:

The size or reputation of the news site. With Massively, we’re part of the Joystiq network, and we have a solid voice across that entire network that has already been established and respected by readers. This means we can say what we want and there’s a good chance the development studio will still come back to us next week when they have more news. They need us just as much as we need them, and not to sound too arrogant, but it’s a point that a site needs to build up to. This has nothing to do with size, but reputation.

The problem, I think, is with smaller sites who are most worried about making a name for themselves and establishing what they think is a good relationship with studios and their PR departments. I see this most often with people who are new to the business, as they think they’ll somehow lose their jobs for asking questions that are viewed as negative. The way I see it, if the topic is that huge among the playerbase, someone needs to address the issue. Dancing around it only makes you look scared.

Personal blog sites are immune to this, which is why they develop strong, dedicated followers. Unless these bloggers have a hidden agenda about one day becoming a “real journalist”, you’ll find that they speak their opinions freely and openly. Readers respect that and many would rather wade through poor grammar or spelling to get honest opinions.

On the other side of that spectrum you have large conglomerate news sites that give safe numerical review scores so they can secure that interview with the large international publisher’s CEO next week.

The company itself. I know of only a handful of companies that will literally blacklist you for speaking negatively about their game. The majority actually respect you more for being up front and having the balls to address the real issues.

My favorite example of this is Funcom’s Craig Morrison (and Funcom in general). He is a former journalist-turned-developer who has told me himself how sick he is of people not asking the right questions. If you go into a Craig Morrison interview asking when their next expansion will be released and for him to tell you how awesome it will be… he’ll probably roll his eyes at you. If you ask him why Age of Conan had such a bad time their first year and what he’s going to do to fix that, he’ll smile and talk your ear off. I love that.

Advertising relationships. Yes, game companies advertise on news websites. Does this directly influence the opinions of the writers on that site? I believe on many sites it does, especially when you look at the size of the ads on some of these sites. It’s embarrassing to me as a journalist and as someone who’s trying to run a legitimate site.  Yes, Massively has advertising from a few MMO game studios, but that money is handled by AOL, who own the entire network of blogs. Does AOL care if we talk negatively about a game and upset the advertiser? Sure, but if the advertiser leaves, they’ll be replaced by a teeth whitener ad the next day, so it’s not a big deal. AOL doesn’t mind if we speak our minds because they trust that we know what we’re talking about and readers love us for our honestly. Again, this boils down to mutual benefits. If you want a whole bunch of readers to see your ad on Massively, you may need to put up with a few opinions.

The person asking the question.
I really suck at interview questions. It’s just a thing. To help remedy this, I’ve been gathering questions from the Massively readers to ask of developers. This way, the real issues can be addressed, and I’m off the hook from pissing off the more sensitive companies.

All in all, relationships between game companies and journalists are quite important, but it’s not as cut-and-dry as many people assume. Respect is earned through more than just asking the “right” questions. If you establish yourself as a credible person with integrity, asking respectful questions that address the real issues — from both a company and player perspective — then you’re doing well. If you attack, make blind assumptions or skirt the real issues, you might want to consider another career.

25 thoughts on “Does Gaming Journalism Avoid The Tough Questions?

  1. What the two of you talked about haunted me for most of the time I was in my former job.

    Especially when it comes to rating games, you want to give them a good score so they’d come back to you, but if you give them a good score when the game obviously needs work, then you feel bad as you’re just sacrificing your integrity.

    It’s a tough ethical and emotional (if you’re the type who feels strongly about his work) issue, but I think the two of you have covered all the bases here. 🙂

  2. It’s inherent in any niche journalism genre. Automotive magazines are generally just as cowardly and subservient.

    Who does a game journalist cover? Game companies.

    Who buys advertising for gaming websites and magazines? Only game companies.

    Life expectancy for a hard hitting gaming news mag or site? Bout 3 months before its advertising weakens and it gets blackballed from all the PR activities.

    It doesn’t help that it’d be pretty hard to take your gaming journalism job too seriously; I mean, it ain’t like you’re gonna be breaking Watergate with your hard hitting Bio Shock 3 sneak peek or something. So the urge to just roll with it and get the paycheck has to be even stronger than normal.

  3. Here’s my two cents: if a source doesn’t talk, there isn’t a story. If you piss off everyone in the know, then no one talks to you. I’ve seen this at my newspaper with some reporters.

    Also, I have to agree with toxic. It’s video game journalism, not uncovering the secret of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Video games are a hobby. As a newspaper editor, I love the nice change of pace when I get to do video game journalism.

    It’s serious, but there’s also perspective on what the material is. What is that perspective? Well, what we are reporting on isn’t important. It’s all entertainment.

    I’m not implying that game journalists shouldn’t be held accountable, but let’s really be serious here. Are there really any “tough” or “hard-hitting” questions that a developer needs to answer? I mean, they make video games for crying out loud.

    On a related note, why does it always seem in this country that everyone always knows the best way to do someone else’s job? I’m being facetious.

  4. gotta agree with Toxic, couldn’t have said it better.

    And with people like Yahtzee, it’s not so much about being harsh on the game companies as it is having a shtick. At first, what he did seemed really unorthodox , telling many gamers what they really wanted to hear. Don’t get me wrong, I think his stuff is hilarious, but when a person hates on everything, it becomes harder and harder to take them seriously. It’s just a routine at this point.

  5. Good article. Thanks! By the way, while I do think that game interviews need hardballs and softballs… the STO interview by Wood at was horrible. The questions were so dickwad-ish, and while I am not a fan of Cryptic, they fielded the horribly asked questions really well.

  6. Issues:

    1) So many “interviews” are done by submitting a list of questions to a PR contact via email and receiving responses vetted through four layers of corporate several days or weeks later with zero room for back-and-forth.

    2) There are few gaming sites with the clout necessary to not have their tough questions ignored. Of those few, there are even less willing to ask the tough questions for various reasons you mentioned above (advertising arrangements, fear of losing contacts, etc.).

    3) It’s rare that a game studio will call a spade a spade and answer your question in any way that will make their publishers or investors lose faith. Most of the time they throw up smoke and mirrors and provide vague answers to distract anyone but the most hardcore follower.

    4) The pay isn’t very good in “games journalism” yet so it doesn’t really attract hard-nosed journalists to the profession. The pay really isn’t worth the investment in time and effort to dig deep and triple-check your facts.



    You need a fearless gaming news site with a large enough bankroll to pay its journalists well and fork out cash for travel so these writers can engage in a live two-way dialogue where the developer has little means of escape.

    The journalists need to be more than just fans. They need to be extremely informed and passionate about the gaming industry who are willing to dig deep and press hard when necessary. They also shouldn’t be biased. Leave that for the columnists.

    On top of that, they need to be really good writers.

  7. I’m gonna repost a comment that I posted on Wolfshead’s site back in December, on his post about Tom Chilton and about asking hard questions.

    “Expect a member of the press to come to the press’ defense.

    You have to understand what we deal with when we do interviews. Most producers and PR-reps that we get to talk to are incredibly media trained. They are not there to give honest interviews in the sense that “tough” questions will get proper answers – they are there to sell a product. I’ve asked many “tough” questions over the years, but many times the answers are pointless, spinned marketingtalk or not interesting enough to actually do anything with.

    Rob Pardo is a different beast entirely. He is, in many ways, an uniqum in the gaming industry. If you ever end up in the same room as the man, you will know what I mean. He is sure of himself and of his company, he knows exactly where Blizzard stands compared to the competitors. He can be open and honest in ways people below him can’t – there is a point in asking him tougher questions because you can expect to actually get good replies from him.

    For example, during Gamescom this year I met up with two guys from Mythic, one guy from development and one guy from marketing. The big deal at the time was Marc Jacobs leaving and the “merger” with Bioware. I asked them about both – and got no reply. They seemed offended that I brought it up in the first place, and I can understand that – their mission, given to them from people above them, was to talk about WAR in good terms and to sell the coming Live Event. The interview was useless, even though a clip from it can be seen in the blooper show we made (“the love in this room went from here to here in just one question”).

    The gaming press and the industry have a somewhat problematic relationship with each other. They rely on us to get information out, we rely on them to supply us with content – they are businesses, they are in total control of the information. It’s not only about not risking to get invited back to Blizzard (full disclaimer: I’ve been on a paid trip to Blizzard, that does not change my view of the company in any way, or stopped me from trying to ask “tougher” questions to the devs we got to interview). It’s about our readers wanting that content too, otherwise they will go somewhere else. And without readers, no money. No money, no publication.

    Some people do say that they don’t care if a review is a bit late, because it is better to wait and know the publication paid for the game or info itself. Those people are sadly in minority, at least for larger gaming sites. But getting trips and games are not, despite some people’s claim to the contrary, not the same as being “bought” – as I’ve said before, I have gone on paid trips and come home to write about the actual game, not the trip.

    Just to point it out again – the companies are businesses. They control their information, because information is money. Everything that comes out of a dev’s mouth is controlled by marketing. It’s the way things work and it’s not like the gaming press doesn’t try to ask tough questions. Actually, it does happen a bit more often than some would give credit for – you just need to know which sites to look at.”

    While I agree with some of your points, and it’s great to read Shawn’s take on it, it’s not easy asking tough questions to an industry so tight-lipped as the games industry. Marketing is everywhere, they sit in on the interviews, the people being interviewed is told exactly what to say and what not to say well in advance.

    There are exceptions, of course. Rob Pardo is mentioned above. Peter Molyneux is another, while he is usually followed around by PR-people ready to do damage control. I’ve been privy to information, and still have information about certain unreleased games, that PR-people have rushed in afterwards to make 100% sure that I never ever tell anyone else until the company is ready. THAT is the way they work and I know they would go after me, teeth shown, if I even whispered or hinted at anything about those games.

    Look, we can point fingers all we want. But the fact is that there are journalists out there who try to ask tough questions. I’ve done it many times, and 9/10 you end up with nothing at all. I’ve asked tough questions and see the guy I’m interviewing shocked at my nerve (that includes Mythic mentioned above, and at least one producer from CCP). A lot of us try, more than most imagine or ever get to see. Sad, but true.

  8. Further reference: Psychochild’s rant on “journalism” in the game industry:

    I’d say this is an issue with journalism at large, actually. If you follow politics at all, you’ll see incompetent journalism all over the place. It seems that few are interested in getting at the truth of a situation or product these days; “editorial” content is the flavor of the era.

    It’s unfortunate… and ultimately, it can even be dangerous. Maybe not so much with games, but with other products, say, cars or foods, bad information can lead directly to problems for consumers. …I’ll not get started on problems with bad information on politics and economics. 😉

  9. As much as I would like to see hard journalism in the gaming industry, there’s no incentive for the gaming companies to partake in it. Here’s a scenario that’s hopefully not too far-fetched:

    1. You’re a gaming company with a game that’s close to being released, so you bring in a journalist in hopes of generating some buzz about your game.

    2. Said journalist points out some fundamental flaws in your game.

    3. You’ve already spent 1-2 years (single player) or 2-4 years (MMO) on your game, and it’s too far down the road to introduce such fundamental changes to it.

    4. You only have two options – to either dodge the question with a canned PR response, or acknowledge it.

    5. If this was a “pick 10 questions from the players” event (like what happened in Fallen Earth with my questions), you can get away with the first option and move to the next question. Unfortunately, the fact that the journalist asked such a critical question to begin with means that he’ll likely see past your BS and move in for the kill.

    6. The second option is more noble and deserves “mad props”, but you still lose in the end. A flaw has been pointed out in your game that will likely make it to the final release, and the whole world knows about it.

    7. You arrange for the journalist’s untimely demise and make a note to pick softball journalists in the future.

    Now, if it was a retrospective/post-mortem interview, it’s okay to bring in hardball journalists because you can point out the flaws AND show how you’ve learned from them so that they don’t show up in your future products.

  10. You need a fearless gaming news site with a large enough bankroll to pay its journalists well and fork out cash for travel so these writers can engage in a live two-way dialogue where the developer has little means of escape.

    That would really make no difference. The developer will have to let you in, either into the building or behind the PR. Only because you are paying for your journos’ trips doesn’t change a thing. You’d risk cutting yourself out of the industry instead.

    What would be needed is less of journalists who fall into a PR-trap because someone paid for their trip. And there is already a lot of good journalists out there who won’t be tricked by those kinds of stunts – while still being well-mannered and very popular amongst devs and PR-people alike. Look at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. They are some of the best games journalists, well respected, not bought by any company, have tons of experience and is loved by a lot of people inside the industry.

  11. As a little P.S. to this post, I want to say that I know this isn’t a cut-and-dry question — I knew going into writing this post that there’s a lot of angles to consider, and that no matter what angle I’d discuss, there’d be exceptions and issues with it. I didn’t write it as a rant so much as just general, growing frustration — across the board — with gaming journalism and the obtuse nature of game company PR. I feel that this somewhat dysfunctional relationship only serves to aggravate players more, who know they’re not getting the full story, and who become more cynical and disenfranchised with gaming all the time.

    So I just wanted to put my two cents out there and see what everyone had to say.

  12. Real journalism is not nailing someone to the wall by asking tough questions — it just means you have enough clout that you can get away with nailing people to the wall.

    Real journalism is, by hook or by crook, getting the answers to the tough questions.

    I don’t care if interviews don’t have tough questions. The best interviews are either interesting, enlightening, or both, and they are that way because all parties are comfortable talking. Interviewer X asking uncomfortable questions to subject Y is never interesting.

    Now, by all means, write tough stories and tough reviews — because those are interesting. Confrontational interviews rarely are.

  13. *shrug*

    I just ignore “game journalism” and get my information from user reviews at places like GameFAQs. I get to see more honest opinions across a spectrum of responses that way, and I can parse them to get what information I want.

  14. In before the qq’s about liberal media biast…um just kidding. 🙂

    @ Timothy “Youngblood” Young

    Even by declaring MMO’s as a hobby, thus shouldn’t be taken seriously…there is still the thorny issue of consumers getting a fast one pulled on them by company. This is why tough questions still need to be asked. It comes down to the principal of it…and whether a consumer should be made aware, they’re not getting all for that monthly sub they’re paying for, as an example.

    I agree though, that the way questions are been phrased can be very counter-productive…especially if the journalist comes across with an “I’ll show them” attitude.

  15. Petter, while I respect your work and think you do a fine job, I believe that you can’t trust any journalist who gets flown out to an interview or review, all expenses paid. When a journalist is getting showered with free flights, food, hotel and merchandise, it’s going to make them think twice about calling that company out on their crappy game or business decisions. I’m not saying you personally would do this, but I would imagine less than 5% of game journalists would not let those extras affect them in any way… ESPECIALLY since game journalists make crap money.

    Even if you didn’t let those extras affect your opinion of the company, the most important thing is that the readers would believe the extras affected your opinions.

    Also, I think boatorious hit it on the head. This stuff is all irrelevant unless it’s something that people actually want to read.

  16. Shawn – I certainly understand what you mean, but I know from personal experience that the suspiscion is in many cases unwarranted. I can only use myself as an example, who flew to Texas to take a look at Tabula Rasa pre-release and wrote quite critically about it (I can dig up the link and run it through Google Translate if someone wants me to) and during my last trip to Blizzard I asked all kinds of questions to the devs that they didn´t really want to answer. I know many, many games journalists that do the same thing.

    Now, that is not to say that some people can´t see past these things. I absolutely understand why people see those kinds of freebies in a negative light. Sadly, most publications don’t have much of a choice in the matter – either you accept the trip, where the PR machinery can control as much of the information as possible, or you lose out on the information. Again, sad but true.

  17. It’s a huge problem, and one reason I hardly ever read the major game sites these days.

    I’d have to say that Massively’s answer, essentially “That it happens all the time but we don’t do it.” is what I would expect any of the big sites to say. Maybe it’s true in their case. I think it varies from writer to writer there.

    The MMO companies are certainly not innocent in this, and neither is the blogosphere. If you’re a good little blogger, and don’t criticise them too much, you’ll get rewarded with exclusive bits and pieces, and links to your site.

  18. To further understand my limited understanding of MMO journalism…I kinda wonder if it would be more appropriate if you send the journalist on the PR trip to write a lavishing fluff piece about that game for information sake. And then have an editorial team do some follow-up work, pick it apart and post their conclusions…in a nice but objective way.

  19. I have my own opinions, as Tesh linked above.

    I think the core issue to consider here is what the purpose of game journalism is. The first order effect of any journalism is to report events; the second order effect is to inform people to allow them to make decisions. This is why the state of political journalism is especially lamentable; I want somewhere reliable I can show to friends and family when they start to buy into the latest spindoctoring.

    One can argue that games are a little less critical than politics, but as someone who makes my living from the game industry I don’t think it’s fair to completely dismiss it. The goal of game journalism is to inform, ultimately to tell if a game is a good deal or not. I think a lot of game journalists ignore this distinction, though, and dive more into rumor-mongering than actual information. Take, for example, Mark Jacobs leaving Mythic. While the gossip part of our brain might want to know the reality behind it, the honest truth is that it probably doesn’t affect the game itself much. Warhammer Online‘s future was determined before Mark left Mythic/EA, and the fact that Mark was leaving a company he helped to form should tell you all you need to know about the state of things.

    Really, this is what made the game magazines back in the “good old days” so awesome. They reported on news and told you about games coming out. They reviewed games that were out there and let you know if they were a good deal or not. You might decide to follow a game because news makes it sound good. You might ignore some other game because some rumor in the studio makes it doubtful the game will ever get released. This is what game journalists should focus on. More accurately, this is what gamers should reward. Stop reading the game industry equivalent of celebrity gossip.

    Some further thoughts.

  20. “Petter, while I respect your work and think you do a fine job, I believe that you can’t trust any journalist who gets flown out to an interview or review, all expenses paid. When a journalist is getting showered with free flights, food, hotel and merchandise, it’s going to make them think twice about calling that company out on their crappy game or business decisions.”

    You’re wrong. The journalist isn’t paying out of his pocket and doesn’t really care if the developer or his publisher is paying for airfare and loggings.

    I really hate posts like this (since they’re inevitably so full of ignorant opinions) so I’m not going to get to into this except to ask one question…

    Does anyone besides me find it ironic that a blog with no hard-hitting, ask-the-tough-questions content on it is faulting other blogs for not having the same?

    It’s so damned easy to sit on the bleachers and point out the flaws, isn’t it? How about you get out there and pitch a few games and then maybe you’ll see it isn’t about the journalists trying to stay friends with the devs so they get a stinking t-shirt. It’s about first rate PR and marketing teams clamping down the flow of info.

    What is really needed is the equivalent of a ValleyWag for the gaming business. A solid place for leaks to accumulate. Then you might start getting some ‘insider information’ that isn’t so sanitized. But then you’ll have to take it for what it is..unverified info. And the gamers will be bitching because some of it turns out to be untrue.

  21. I agree with Brian, I think I’d rather just have pure news and reviews, with maybe some color pieces. I don’t think investigative or hard-hitting journalism works because developers can only react so much to changes, and can’t answer questions often to satisfaction.

    As for reviews, I think gamers are savvy enough to realize they are only a guide, unless its obvious someone is stacking the deck. Usually a balanced reviewer will keep it even. I make no claim to be one myself of course.

  22. This is really very little different than local and regional newspapers or magazines. Have you ever seen any popular women’s magazines take a ‘tough stance’ on, say, make-up companies? Nope. Local and regional newspapers similarly don’t take on local and regional companies that would advertise in the papers. These media companies also won’t take on stories that could make industries that advertise in them look bad, either. In fact, there’s very little that any paid media is especially hard on, nowadays. Politicians and government, mainly (and even then, only if they get tips/press releases/etc. … none of them is actually willing to spend money to do investigative journalism that digs deep into the real stories).

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