Web bias, what a cruel mistress thou are…

Originally posted on Kneel Before Pod on Sunday, April 12, 2009.

We here are Kneel Before Pod are bias. Ryan and I actually had a discussion the other night about it. It went something like this;

Me: “I think we should make sure we focus on being editorial. We’re not a news site.”

Ryan: “Yeah, we’re bias.”

Me: “And we just don’t have the connections or resources to matter in the news world.”

We understand that there is a line in journalism. It’s one that used to be sacred and some would make it their mission to never cross it. When you are reporting news, you should do so without bias. When you include your opinion or start to skew the story to support your point of view, it becomes something else. It’s no longer news meant to keep you informed of the latest developments in your world. This has been the official standard in journalism for years. There is room for these non-reporting features in the world, and frankly this is some of the best content. Where do I find a problem? When this content is not clearly marked as such. Some people can easily tell the difference, but some people in the world also need a reminder to *not* put a plastic bag securely over their head. I think it’s safe to assume if a person doesn’t know enough to not kill themselves with what most of us use to carry our cereal home, said person might not be able to tell that a story is being tainted by bias.

Most traditional (i.e. printed) outlets seem to be holding true to this tradition, or at least claim to be when call out as otherwise. That’s why when you read an issue of your favourite gaming magazine, there is one whole section labelled “Reviews.” This tells you clearly that you’re entering the world of opinion. Or they will even state clearly that the content is editorial in nature. The biggest perpetrators of this are the websites that carry video game news. Their mix of editorial content and legit news often makes for a bizzare mix of unbias reporting and complete unblinking bias the next, sometimes by the same author on the very same topic.

The most recent example I have found of this is a website, which I will not name just because I don’t want to make it look like I am trying to start a “feud,” that has been one of a couple sites running regular posts about the recent stink over Gamestop’s policy of allowing employees to take new games home to try and then still sale them as new. I personally think it’s all pretty stupid, but that’s not the point. The point of my editorial is that this site’s posts are hard to take as being impartial. Ever. They have shown blatant bias on many issues in the past. So now, every time I read something of theirs I personally question “Are they being bias now?” Consistently, I never know how to take the words that are written on their page.

Think I might be a little rough on them? Well, you be the judge. Here is a direct quote from one of their stories. “With legal ambiguities surrounding this issue, we’d simply suggest buying used titles from your friendly, online click-and-order retailer in the meantime, rather than contributing to billions of dollars in used game sales at your own and other gamers’ expense” is said at a more recent post about Gamestop. They are suggesting that you, the reader and consumer, bypass a company before anything is decided by *ANY* governing body. This is a practice that the company has done for well over a decade and has never been deemed illegal. Yet despite the total lack of guilt on Gamestop’s part, they are suggesting you boycott them. Not only that, they are suggesting that you boycott the purchase of their… used games… which… has nothing to do with the current issue. This makes my brain cry. That is par for the course on this website.

Now let me say, there is nothing wrong with opinion laden content. Hell, that is 99% of all the original content you see on our site. We have a third of our weekly show dedicated to us remarking and talking general jackassery about actual news. I’m just saying lets make this a clear divide. Lets see a little tag that indicates real news and what is the ranting of a clearly bias fanboy. I feel so strongly about this, that recently we have started doing it on our site, even though I have already admitted that 99% of our content is pretty much devoid of unbias fact.

One last thing before I finally decide to go to bed. I hate Gamestop. With the burning passion of a million suns. I think that they are part of the problem and not the solution in nearly every issue that the video game industry faces. I think that they are a company that treats a majority of their employees *very* poorly. So, it almost causes me physical discomfort to defend them in even the most remote way. If you want to know how we feel about this policy at Gamestop, listen to this weeks show. I’m sure it will come up. Till then, be excellent to each other.

Say something... I dare you.