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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Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure
Apr 7, 2010, 20:26
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Re: Fired Editor Alleges Rockstar Review Pressure Apr 7, 2010, 20:26
Apr 7, 2010, 20:26
 
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.
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