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Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure

News.com.au tells the tale of Toby McCasker, a former deputy entertainment editor for the magazine ZOO Weekly, who claims he was fired for blowing the whistle on efforts by Rockstar Games to influence coverage of Red Dead Redemption. McCasker posted excerpts on Facebook of an email allegedly from Rockstar saying: "This is the biggest game we've done since GTA IV, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world," going on to say: "Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here." The Facebook posting is now removed, and McCasker is no longer with ZOO Weekly. "I did not sign up to become a journalist to write advertorials masquerading as editorial," he says. "This 'cash for comment' culture that is fast becoming the status quo within print media bothers me a lot."

Kotaku has a response from ZOO editor Paul Merrill saying: "I would like to make it clear that at no time has Rockstar EVER sought a preferential review in return for advertising. In fact no games company has ever suggested this. And Zoo would never give a positive review to a game we didn't rate in return for ad dollars. Toby McCasker was sacked for a number of reasons, one of which was his decision to post a private email on his Facebook page. This email was not referring to a game review. He should not be considered a credible source of information on this matter." News.com.au also has a comment from Rockstar Games Australia: "We are not clear on what the story is here. We always try to present our games in the most compelling way to media and fans alike and of course we, like every other video game publisher in Australia or anywhere else for that matter, want to have our games seen in a positive light." The article also says: "It is understood McCasker had earlier received two official warnings about his behaviour."

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66. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 10, 2010, 07:03 Rigs
 
Aaaaaand... you just Godwin'd the thread.


Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

How original...seeing how I didn't know what the hell it even meant until I looked it up and thus didn't do it on purpose, your comment means nothing...move along... Rolleyes


=-Rigs-=
 
Avatar 14292
 
'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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65. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 17:06 Beamer
 
Abstract:
We use mutual fund recommendations to test whether editorial content is independent from advertisers’
influence in the financial media. We find that major personal finance magazines (Money, Kiplinger’s
Personal Finance, and SmartMoney) are more likely to recommend funds from families that have advertised
within their pages in the past, controlling for fund characteristics like expenses, past returns and the overall
levels of advertising. We find little evidence of a similar relationship for mentions in the New York Times
or Wall Street Journal. Positive media mentions in both newspapers and magazines are associated with
significant future inflows into the fund while advertising expenditures are not. Therefore, if we interpret our
coefficients causally, a large share of the benefit of advertising in our sample of personal finance magazines
comes via the apparent content bias. The welfare implications of this apparent bias are unclear, however,
since our tests suggest that bias does not directly lead publications to recommend funds with significantly
lower future returns than they might have recommended in the absence of any bias. In selecting funds to recommend,
magazines overweight past returns relative to expenses, and as a group their recommendations do
not outperform even an equal-weighted average of their peers. Nevertheless, this approach leaves magazines
with large numbers of funds with high past returns from which to select, and so bias towards advertisers can
be accommodated without significantly reducing readers’ future returns. Interestingly, the recommendations
of Consumer Reports, which does not accept advertising, have future returns comparable to or below those
of the publications which accept do advertising.


Doesn't sound all that damning at all, especially when detailing the actual reputably newspapers, of which they find "little evidence."
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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64. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 16:29 Flatline
 
Rigs wrote on Apr 7, 2010, 21:17:
I'm sorry to say but Hitler died at the end of WW2...

Aaaaaand... you just Godwin'd the thread.

Later.
 
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63. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 16:22 Flatline
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 7, 2010, 23:12:
2. Business to business ads? Do YOU work for a large corporation? The execs aren't watching CNN or Fox News unless it happens to be on in the airport. Add to that the ads aren't even hawking business services. They're "feel good" ads. They're designed not only to latch media companies into a revenue stream, but also as propaganda to make the world feel okay about them. That disinclines the public to believe stories about such companies polluting or bilking consumers or whatever when accidents or scandals happen, if such stories even get air time.

Sure. I mean, Toyota is one of the highest spenders in the country. Nice to see how their recall failures were swept under the rug for it.

Oh you mean where Toyota managed to convince the federal government to avoid safety recalls and avoid enforcing rules for about a year?

Yeah, that actually turned out great for Toyota. Execs referred to it as a giant win.
 
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62. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 16:12 Flatline
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 7, 2010, 14:56:

Or it's because businesses watch these channels. You know, the businesses that then go out and hire them...

But you can keep your conspiracy theory over something sensible.

I got a bridge I want to sell you dude. You're not just wrong, you're demonstratively wrong.

http://tinyurl.com/ylbwjt6

If you can stand reading 44 pages of a published, rather dry study, you'll hit the conclusion where they show that in financial publications, there is a direct correlation between advertising money and how often the advertisers are recommended for mutual funds, even after other considerations for a potential investor are taken into account.

As I said, it's an axiom that advertising shapes content in current events TV, print, and probably the web. You're being unbelievably naive if you really think it doesn't. The question is, how much does it shape published content. There's some room for argument there.

 
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61. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 12:06 PHJF
 
Lol, is that what you call war? A couple of sadistic fucks sitting high and mighty in a million-dollar machine of war taking potshots at a guys armed with cameras? All right, fine, they followed RoE. But where in the RoE does it say to light up the non-combat vehicle attempting to evacuate the sorry sods you just impregnated with your 30mm?

That isn't war, it's war crime. And then of course the Army goes to what lengths they did to keep the incident from the public, because obviously the best people for investigating the Army is the Army.

Really, I'd like to know how many Apache pilots/gunners are sadistic murderers. Did you even watch the video?

"Requesting permission to engage..."

"Picking up the wounded?"

"Cmon, let us shoot!"
 
Avatar 17251
 
Steam + PSN: PHJF
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60. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 07:41 Rigs
 
PHJF wrote on Apr 8, 2010, 01:56:
Speaking of "conspiracies", how about that just-released Apache-Baghdad video x_x.

I wonder how often stuff like that happens.

War's a bitch, son. Shit happens. Civilian casualties, collateral damage, friendly fire. All of it happens. As long as there's war, it will continue. People said the advent of smart bombs would eliminate collateral damage. And while it's helped much (no more Dresden's or Tokyo fire storms) it still happens. You think the atomic bomb was the worst killer in WW2? Try the fire bombing Curtis LeMay ordered during the last half of 1944 and 1945. 80,000 killed in a night, a million or more homeless. They don't teach that in History class... All they say is that we bombed them and then bombed them some more and then we got the atomic bomb and the war ended. It's not exactly that cut and dry...And just because we use computers to do the targeting nowadays doesn't mean it's better. Just think of what exactly that computer is putting a target on...


=-Rigs-=
 
Avatar 14292
 
'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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59. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 07:32 Rigs
 
Ventura wrote on Apr 8, 2010, 01:01:
the world isn't flat and I'm sorry to say but Hitler died at the end of WW2...

You wanna go there? How about JFK mate? Or 911?

Go where? JFK? Just because you don't know what really happened doesn't make it a freakin' conspiracy. 9/11? What about it? I saw it on tv just like most everyone else did. No conspiracy. Some absolute jackass douchebags got lucky. Nothing more. It'll probably happen again too because we've gotten complacent. Doesn't mean someone's out there orchestrating these things. Doesn't mean the CIA did it. Doesn't mean Bush knew about it. Doesn't mean Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor...I'm not even going to mention Roswell...you guys would believe anything given the chance...geezus...


=-Rigs-=
 
Avatar 14292
 
'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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58. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 01:56 PHJF
 
Speaking of "conspiracies", how about that just-released Apache-Baghdad video x_x.

I wonder how often stuff like that happens.
 
Avatar 17251
 
Steam + PSN: PHJF
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57. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 8, 2010, 01:01 Ventura
 
the world isn't flat and I'm sorry to say but Hitler died at the end of WW2...

You wanna go there? How about JFK mate? Or 911?

I'd like to believe that people are great and wonderful to each other, and that conspiracies just about never happen, but my actual experience paints a very different picture. Funny how that is.
 
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56. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 23:12 Beamer
 
1. INVESTORS don't watch CNN or MSNBC. It's useless. If they watch anything at all, they watch Fox Business or CNBC. But mostly they are researching on the internet or in trade publications.

Certainly. Every single person in his/her 50s with a portfolio in the six figures only watches Fox Business and CNBC. They never put on CNN. How right you are.

2. Business to business ads? Do YOU work for a large corporation? The execs aren't watching CNN or Fox News unless it happens to be on in the airport. Add to that the ads aren't even hawking business services. They're "feel good" ads. They're designed not only to latch media companies into a revenue stream, but also as propaganda to make the world feel okay about them. That disinclines the public to believe stories about such companies polluting or bilking consumers or whatever when accidents or scandals happen, if such stories even get air time.

Sure. I mean, Toyota is one of the highest spenders in the country. Nice to see how their recall failures were swept under the rug for it.

3. News organizations are critical all the time? Where were the mine safety stories before the Massey mine blew up? Where were the stories about the housing bubble and derivatives trading before the market crashed?

For one, it's insane that you think anyone in the media was paying attention to mining. If BusinessWeek put mining on the cover over the next iPhone would you have purchased that issue? You really think the mining industry bribed the media to ignore this? Holy crap!

For another, I'm amazed that you think more than a handful of people were aware of the impending CDS issues. Now you're confusing incompetence for evil. I'd assume, then, that you think all the people taking out mortgages that they knew were too large and buying houses they knew were too expensive were evil, too, right?

It's extremely naive to think otherwise

Naive is watching too many scifi movies and thinking they're reality.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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55. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 21:17 Rigs
 
Common place in the gaming industry. There isn't an honest reviewer out there anymore and almost all ,if not all, let the game makers off the hook by ignoring bugs that make the game barely playable because it was released too early.

I freakin' dare you to tell that to JaguarUSF aka James Allen of Out of Eight. I'm sure he'd say something very different...

Some of you just blow my mind. You tell us 'non-conspiracy' theorists to go out and get some fresh air?!? Are you fucking kidding? More like the other way around. It doesn't happen all the time (none of you have brought any proof of it other than hyperbole and personal opinions), the world isn't flat and I'm sorry to say but Hitler died at the end of WW2...

Unbelievable...you call us pathetic? Hmph... Rolleyes


=-Rigs-=

 
Avatar 14292
 
'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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54. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 21:05 Overon
 
If you feel that gaming journalists are being corrupted, then there are plenty of game blogs where there are no advertisements and your fellow gamers are writing the reviews. Just look.  
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53. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 20:28 Dev
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 7, 2010, 14:23:
Combat in SR2 is butter-smooth.
What game? Space Rangers 2?
 
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52. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 20:26 jdreyer
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 7, 2010, 19:09:
Exactly. It's why Seimens and Boeing and British Petrol other huge multinationals buy ads on CNN, MSNBC, etc. These ads aren't hawking a product. You can't go buy a Seimens Bluray player or buy gas at a BP gas station. They spend millions in ad dollars on these media networks, even though they aren't selling anything. It prevents these news organizations from being too critical or investigating these companies. Not that they would: all the the major media outlets are owned by huge multinationals themselves: GE owns NBC, Westinghouse owns CBS, Time/Warner owns CNN, etc.

The organizations are critical all the time.
Yes, in part they open channels to the organizations. Doesn't stop them from being critical.
It's also business-to-business ads.
And it's stock awareness. Who watches CNN? Investors. Why not crow about how great you are to a sitting audience that can invest in you and raise the stock price. Or so that the name is out there and people prefer a Qualcomm-powered phone or to fly on a Boeing.


It's like half of you sit around thinking everyone is conspiring against you. Haven't any of you worked at a major corporation ever?


And, for the record, I filled my tank up at a BP station this past weekend.

1. INVESTORS don't watch CNN or MSNBC. It's useless. If they watch anything at all, they watch Fox Business or CNBC. But mostly they are researching on the internet or in trade publications.

2. Business to business ads? Do YOU work for a large corporation? The execs aren't watching CNN or Fox News unless it happens to be on in the airport. Add to that the ads aren't even hawking business services. They're "feel good" ads. They're designed not only to latch media companies into a revenue stream, but also as propaganda to make the world feel okay about them. That disinclines the public to believe stories about such companies polluting or bilking consumers or whatever when accidents or scandals happen, if such stories even get air time.

3. News organizations are critical all the time? Where were the mine safety stories before the Massey mine blew up? Where were the stories about the housing bubble and derivatives trading before the market crashed? Sure now that hindsight is 20/20, the news orgs feel it's safe to pile on (even here they play "he says, she says"), but there's no proactive criticism. There are multiple reasons for this, but one major one is: why rock the boat of a major revenue stream?

The major media companies in the US aren't a Free Press any more looking out for the interests of the common man and playing a watchdog role on gov't and corporations. They are the corporation, and they have been largely coopted by the gov't in exchange for access to high level politicians.

It's extremely naive to think otherwise.

And that's what this story is about: corporations influencing "independent" media as to get favorable coverage. It happens all the time. Companies have always and will always spin things their way. It's up to the media outlets to resist this. And Toby wasn't happy with the way Zoo Weekly was handling it, so he posted a revealing email (proof) and got fired.

By all means, if it makes you feel better, please pretend otherwise.
 
Avatar 22024
 
"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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51. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 20:10 Dev
 
Translation:
"he got fired for posting a secret email. oh and also the email isn't talking about a review even though the email is true, so we fired him, but we fired him for posting it, and we would never do anything like what it said, in fact no game company has ever done it or will ever do it, oh and the king isn't wearing any clothes."

This comment was edited on Apr 7, 2010, 20:31.
 
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50. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 19:42 Cutter
 
Any major gamesite that's about maintaining profitability these days is solely in the business of advertorials, plain and simple. This is why sites with good communities like Blues, Shack, et al. are the true litmus test for games. You get to know people who have similar tastes and depend a lot on their feedback.

It's funny in this case that Rockstar would do that, as RDR looks like a major hit that doesn't require that sort of padding anyway. I know I'll be grabbing it immediately.
 
Avatar 25394
 
"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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49. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 19:36 Marvin T. Martian
 
Common place in the gaming industry. There isn't an honest reviewer out there anymore and almost all ,if not all, let the game makers off the hook by ignoring bugs that make the game barely playable because it was released too early.  
Avatar 1746
 
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48. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 19:27 derelict koan
 
"Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here."

It sounds to me like he's just wanting the reveiw to reflect the sheer scope of the game, which personally bugs me about 2hr playtime reveiws for potentially 80hr games. With some 4x Strats for instance, it can take days to fully catch the rhythm and all the wingdings, yet the game can be marked atrociously because the journo is used to wii. Maybe Rockstar have copped a dose of that in the past, I say suck it up McCasker, ethics have no role in journalism beyond.marketing.

It's like half of you sit around thinking everyone is conspiring against you

Life is way more fun and interesting this way, you should try it.
 
www.derelictkoan.com - speculative psychosis in trilogy form
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47. Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 19:09 Beamer
 
Exactly. It's why Seimens and Boeing and British Petrol other huge multinationals buy ads on CNN, MSNBC, etc. These ads aren't hawking a product. You can't go buy a Seimens Bluray player or buy gas at a BP gas station. They spend millions in ad dollars on these media networks, even though they aren't selling anything. It prevents these news organizations from being too critical or investigating these companies. Not that they would: all the the major media outlets are owned by huge multinationals themselves: GE owns NBC, Westinghouse owns CBS, Time/Warner owns CNN, etc.

The organizations are critical all the time.
Yes, in part they open channels to the organizations. Doesn't stop them from being critical.
It's also business-to-business ads.
And it's stock awareness. Who watches CNN? Investors. Why not crow about how great you are to a sitting audience that can invest in you and raise the stock price. Or so that the name is out there and people prefer a Qualcomm-powered phone or to fly on a Boeing.


It's like half of you sit around thinking everyone is conspiring against you. Haven't any of you worked at a major corporation ever?


And, for the record, I filled my tank up at a BP station this past weekend.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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