Excellence in Journalism 2015 | Orlando, Fla.


New president Limor takes the reins of SPJ as conference closes

By The EIJ News

By Anthony Fenech

Another successful Society of Professional Journalists National Convention is in the books.

Tuesday night’s president’s installation banquet closes out the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2010 national conference. (TWANA PINSKEY / The Working Press)

Tuesday night’s president’s installation banquet closes out the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2010 national conference. (TWANA PINSKEY / The Working Press)

Tuesday night, inside a ballroom at Planet Hollywood’s convention center, Hagit Limor was officially installed as the 92nd SPJ president.

“Here I am standing before you and I’m truly humbled,” Limor said. “We’re all here for a reason. We have all been drawn to this room at this moment by a common denominator.”

Her installation was the final display in a night that included laughs, cheers and raw emotion on the podium.

Darcie Lunsford (left) waits to accept an award for SPJ’s South Florida chapter. (CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

Darcie Lunsford (left) waits to accept an award for SPJ’s South Florida chapter. (CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

In his final speech as president, Kevin Smith said, “We did more than just weather the storm. We built an ark.”

Carol Rosenberg, a reporter at the Miami Herald, was one of three awarded the SPJ First Amendment Award. Rosenberg fought for access to public records involving the Guantanamo Bay controversy.

“It hasn’t been easy,” she said, her voice trembling. “They banned me, they smeared me and they tried to get my editors to take me off the case.”

Herschel Fink accepts an SPJ First Amendment award for fighting for journalists' rights in the courtroom. (CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

Herschel Fink accepts an SPJ First Amendment award for fighting for journalists' rights in the courtroom. (CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

There were two winners of the First Amendment Awards. Lawyer Herschel Fink was honored for his work to keep Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter out of jail for refusing to reveal his sources. Dave Cuillier, a professor at the University of Arizona, was honored for his work as chair of the Freedom of Information committee.

“The First Amendment means everything to us,” Cuillier said. “I’ve seen it with my eyes. Journalism is not dead, it is alive and well.”

(CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

(CAROLINA HIDALGO / The Working Press)

Smith also presented Cuillier with a President’s Award in the form of a statue of the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, known as a staunch defender of the Constitution.

David Perlman, a 91-year-old science writer from the San Francisco Chronicle, won the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Perlman started a 78-year journalism career at age 12 with his junior high paper but was unable to attend the banquet, instead blaming his “mean editors” through Chronicle city editor Audrey Cooper, drawing laughs from the crowd.




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  • AAAdeveloper

    Come into this. See a bunch of old people and others who frequent the “mary sue” on their profile. If you go to “The Mary Sue” Don’t bother commenting on ethics just don’t bother. I’d rather talk to the trolls who post porno on the gamergate hashtag I feel they’d be more intelligent and rational.

    “Ethics in gaming journalism” the fact is at this point if you deny their are issues you may a as well also deny climate change you may as well go outside look at the blue sky and say it’s green. Not only are there problems in video game industry and the coverage by journalists there are problems in independent game festivals. The amount of money and favors changing hands is disgusting.

    These issues go back further than 2014/15 Things like this have been going on for years –

    http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Interviews/larian_studios_pt1/

    “I saw a curve once from a [big publisher] showing the correlation for an
    RPG between Metacritic score and sales. There’s an incredibly strong
    relationship, which is exponential. An 80 will get you a couple of
    hundred thousand sales, say, where a 90 will get you a couple million if
    it’s marketed properly.”

    “I’ve seen a PR manager in action for one of my games make a 79 an 81.
    And it cost him a lot of money; it cost him full page ads over multiple
    titles, but he managed to, and it had a big impact on the sales of the
    game.”

    “And when you see scores being manipulated, that drives you completely
    bananas as an independent, small developer. Obviously if I was on the
    other side I would be happy if I could put shit in a box and put a nice
    name on it and get a 90% score.”

    “That’s a very scary thing, that one number can have such a huge impact
    on whether or not a studio is going to be allowed to make its next
    game… Studios are killed over bad Metacritic scores. That happens
    every day almost. If you look at what makes up the Metacritic score and
    how it’s done…you wonder how many reviewers or sites are taking it
    very responsibly.”

    Larry Felton Johnson

    – Frequent communities – Alternet. Larry you’re about 100 years old. I suggest you get up to finding out what “the youngins and der video games” are up to. Decrying anonymous people also haha. Some of us have to be anonymous because people like you have a bias and an agenda and put the jobs or people like me at risk. I’m not going to put a public face on myself when I have to deal with extremists from Alternet and Mary Sue. Hives of scum and villainy :)

    • http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com/ Larry Felton Johnson

      I have no idea what your argument is. If it’s that we’re old, I apologize. One morning I woke up, and my hair had turned grey. I’ll admit that my generation, which grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, may be more susceptible to social justice issues than later generations. In my specific case it comes from my direct experience with Jim Crow here in the south. I have an enhanced old guy propensity to take claims of oppression seriously. But then again, I’m old, so I might be senile.

  • Falcus

    I filled the hashtag with lots of proven corruption and related evidence.
    NONE of you holier-than-thou “pro-ethics” people trashing GG for posting off-topics have ever responded to my dozens of evidence-backed media corruption tweets.
    We even have sites stuffed with evidence which you never commented on.
    If you REALLY cared about ethics you would be out there actively digging corruption and exposing it, and collaborating with us.
    But no, you’re here complaining we “hijacked” the tag while doing absolutely nothing to deal with media corruption.
    And the ironic part of this is that, I bet what you want, you’re the same people who with one hand condones or justifies rioting/looting of cities because they have some reasons, and with the other you denounce GG doing the virtual version of this (without the looting and sending people into comas of course).
    Fighting corruption isn’t done by sitting on your ass and criticizing the victims of it, it’s done by going out there and doing something about it.
    GG has done a lot without any help beside Federal Trade Commission, and if someone really cared about ethics they would have popped up by now. But you didn’t. You ramble and point fingers without actually doing anything.
    I’m just one person and yet I uncovered my share of corruption and even managed to get corrupts to correct their articles, what have YOU done?
    Step down from your pedestral and come work with us, otherwise you’re just the “innocent bystander who whines about things while doing nothing about it”.

    • AnHumanBean

      Are you sure throwing around baseless accusations like that is such a good idea?

      • Falcus

        I’m not accusing anyone specific, just commenting the fact bystanders like to make high-ground comments while having actually done nothing at all if not impairing the cause of ethics.

        • AnHumanBean

          Read your post, read the guidelines the SPJ lays out, and make a little tally. What are you fighting for here?

          • Falcus

            Your replies smell a lot like derailing, veiled ad hominem and false ambiguity.
            Unless you go into details and evidence this is the last reply you get.

          • Noah Caldwell-Gervais

            By the rules of middle school debate which all serious journalists adhere to, I declare you the winner, Falcus.

    • AndrewMSeaman

      Once again, the Society teaches journalists about best practices. For the most part, there is no way to penalize journalists or journalism organization under the First Amendment – as we point out in our Code.

      As for filling our hashtag with “proven corruption and related evidence,” a lot of what I saw were lists of links without context. Most people are not going to click on random links if people use URL shorteners. Also, sending dozens of Twitter posts with four or five links is overwhelming for any person – especially the Society’s voluneers – to comb through. Few people were looking at the hashtag past Wednesday once it was filled with pornographic images. I understand people say those were from anti-GamerGate people, but there is no way to filter those out from the legitimate posts. (However, I’ve also seen posts that say anyone who posted to the Twitter hashtag wasn’t GamerGate.)

      Also, if you read the post, I don’t complain that GamerGate “hijacked” (your word, not mine) the Twitter hashtag. It’s the risk any person/organization runs by doing business on the Internet. I just wish it was handled in a more professional or somewhat organized manner – as outlined in the post.

  • Badgerbear

    What is so bad about anonymity in response to potential concerns of a business? While the difficulty of retribution in an anonymous comment is a draw to those who wish to cause trouble, it’s also a way for people to express legitimate grievances without getting singled-out and character assassinated.

    Is it fair to disregard someone’s opinion because of the actions of a group they may associate with?

    • Cole Pram

      Exactly, a persons reputation shouldn’t matter if their ideas are sound. If someone’s being anonymous and an a-hole, ignore them.

      If someone’s making good points why does it matter who they are?

  • SecurityBlanket

    Dear US Government,
    Feel free to revoke freedom of the press. We aren’t using it anyway, and I sure wouldn’t waste any energy defending it.

  • Wavinator

    Hi Andrew. Thank you for making a statement on this. One of the most frequent juxtapositions I’ve used in posting about what I feel are ethical failings in journalism is the SPJ’s call to minimize harm and humanize the subjects of a story with blatantly abusive reporting. I am, frankly, utterly astonished at how socially acceptable among journalists it has become to completely disregard this concept if one feels the subjects in question are odious enough. Surprisingly, I see more investigation and humanization given to the thoughts and experiences of religious extremists than I do gamers!

    It seems as if it has become widely acceptable, based on initial biased reporting, to demonize tens of thousands of people advocating for ethical reporting and resisting censorship in artistic expression. I struggle to understand why. My suspicion is that we are seeing a confluence of two powerful social forces, on the one hand the (very welcome) rising attention paid to the concerns of the traditionally marginalized mixing with a benevolent sexism that renders a “damsel in distress” narrative unquestionable. In the grand, the gross failures in reporting surrounding the Rolling Stone UVA story exemplify this phenomenon.

    This confluence confers something of an “original sin” aspect to GamerGate. The thinking goes something like this: The concerns of this consumer revolt are invalid because they arose out of an alleged harassment campaign directed at a female game developer and her involvement with a games reporter. It does not seem to matter that not only does the individual in question seem to have been involved in a harassment campaign herself (drawing ire that, while not excusable, was pre-existing) or that GamerGate has moved beyond the origins of the scandal into wider journalistic concerns. As the one-sided Baltimore Magazine’s recent detailed piece shows, GamerGate’s “original sin” holds powerful sway in many minds, facts or alternative perspective be damned.

    The culture of journalism, and its attendant ethical concerns, interests me greatly here. I can understand society rightly moving to condemn harm, especially what has been alleged to be sustained harm. But eliding facts and rejecting objectivity, as Kotaku’s Jason Schreier has championed, quickly slides into advocacy. Responding to the public with vitriol and contempt when they request a fair accounting of the facts and an utter disinterest in the perspectives of those affected seem to not be in the spirit of the SPJ.

    Finally, unless it’s not completely clear, let me categorically condemn any abuse endured surrounding this issue. I had hoped that the #SPJEthicsWeek tag would raise awareness of little reported issues, but Twitter’s inability to respond to reports of abuse in a timely manner (of which I and others flagged frequently) spoiled that effort. You’ll not find it surprising that that was the aim of these trolls– to provoke a response and, like all bullies, control the behavior of others.

    Nevertheless, I applaud your willingness to explore this issue.

  • Meittimies

    What is Andrew Seaman’s stance on journalists partaking in a massive smear campaign, trying to silence any and all criticism of its own corrupt practices by fabricating lies about the critisizer? Is that ethical? Also, should those kind of practices just be left alone and let the perpetrators practice them as they wish?

    So far over these 9 months in media, Gamergate has been called: neo-nazis, rapists, pedophiles, ISIS, terrorists, KKK, racists, communists, angry white neckbeards. 200 bots maintained by 20 people, extremist hackers, serial killers and minorities within Gamergate have been called sockpuppets and house niggers.

    Latest example of media bias and smear is the fact nobody feels the need to report on Gamergate meetup being dispersed due to a bomb threat FBI itself deemed “serious”, in the middle of DC no less. A bomb threat in Washington, and no news outlet picks that up, despite being all too happy to blame Gamergate for a vague bomb threat 5-6 months ago.

    Why is that? Should that behaviour from media be just ignored? Should we validate their bad practices by letting them get away with it with no repercussions? Is character assassination now a silently approved tool widely used by the US media? Should we allow journalists to indulge in this sort of behaviour?

    Good thing the hashtag and anonymity itself protects all of us from the more harmful effects of the smear campaign, but it has also severely damaged the trust on gaming media and journalism as a whole, that these unethical practices have been allowed to go on unimpeded even by mainstream media itself. They are creating a future where journalists are widely regarded among their own readers as scam artists and hacks first, and journalists second. And SPJ decides to ignore all of this and let their profession be tarnished by the many bad apples within.

  • SexyCRT

    It took Kotaku two years to update a story accusing Brad Wardell of something that a court proved him innocent of. They had no interest in correcting a wrong, because it fit their narrative.

  • Jack

    It’s great to hear from SPJ on alot of the issues regarding the criticism of mainstream Games Journalism. Though, for a variety of reasons, it’s understandable that this isn’t an easy discussion to have on, say, Twitter.

    What is interesting is that, for all that some of the sites being criticized would complain about it, each of them has taken steps to fall in line with demands for accountability and transparency.

    Your thoughts on anonymous whistleblowers are interesting, though. When there is substantial risk to those speaking out, is anonymity still not warranted? Does the identity of the person weigh in on the veracity of their claims? Should it, even?

    One of the reasons people speak out anonymously is because they fear abuse by the media they speak out against and have little to no protection against retaliation. What would you suggest to people who wish to speak out, but also wish to protect their identities against the people they speak against?

  • cammylover

    As a person who takes part in GamerGate I’d like to say that I’m just glad that they in facts set a standard, a standard that many gaming media site I’m glad to say are starting to at least jump on to, but still falling short or are just being reluctant to adopt. Frankly GamerGate and the SPJ do in fact see eye to eye, even if fools like Butts wish to not believe it to be true. Fact is GamerGate is pushing for more disclose between writers and subjects, to stop the black listing of devs cause they may have different views, and last but not least, good old fashion pay-o-la. This is why I still fight, this is why GamerGate will still be here and will never end until we at least get way less of these problems.

  • Thurinn

    First thing I would like to tackle is Anonymity and why I personally prefer it over sharing my real name.

    You might be aware that there was a #GamerGate meet up in DC Washington last weekend and that the people there had to deal with a bomb threat because they didn’t like some of the people there.
    If there were anonymous the evening might have gone a differently, we’ve also had allot of doxing done to people within #GamerGate including a lawyer.
    Anonymity is a defense against these kind of attacks and personally, I don’t see how that makes anything I say more relevant, why do you need to know who I am?

    That said, there are a few things with #GamerGate I wanted to point out, one is our accomplishments:

    GamerGate Achievements – GamerGate Wiki

    Second is a dosier that someone within #GamerGate prepared months ago:

    http://press.gamergate.me/dossier/

    Thirdly an interview with Gregg Lisby, a lawyer in Journalist Ethics:

    Lastly I wanted to address the issue of trolls. If the SPJ do ignore #GamerGate because of this, which I hope they don’t, they legitimize a new strategy to silence any ethical concerns people from the outside may have in the future.

    #GamerGate is a phenomenon that doesn’t happen often, you rarely have consumers standing up to fix the industry in such mass. Usually this is done via the actual media sites itself or through Youtube personalities and I want to stress, look over the accomplishments we’ve done in the past 8 months, can you name another group who have accomplished this much in such a short amount of time?

    How about a group that has a diverse group of people? Look at #Notyourshield as a prime example of a sub group that spawned from #GamerGate if you want to look at the more social side of what we’ve accomplished.

    If you want to talk more I’m @_Thurinn though I must warn you, I’m not a professional in journalism, I’m an unhappy consumer that wants improvement.

    • AndrewMSeaman

      I’m sorry, but if people expect professionals to communicate with them, they must also unveil themselves. Anonymous sources are only used in journalism when the journalist and their editors know who they are. Also, if this issue is of such importance, the greater good should compel people to not hide behind anonymity. You’re asking other people to publicly take up a cause, but don’t want to do it yourself?

      As for “trolls,” they also fly the #GamerGate banner. I’m not going to keep checking a hashtag that’s filled with porn or really horrible Twitter posts. There are other ways to contact us.

      Another problem is that the demands I saw posted to the Twitter thread changed from person to person. Some just wanted general and unspecified action. One person wanted people to be fired and another asked for a national debate on live television. As people have started posting this blog to other sites, I’ve seen people in the comments saying people demanding a specific action aren’t GamerGate. Yet, further down, another person will claim people wanting a specific action isn’t GamerGate. So, my question to you is: Who is GamerGate and who is not?

      • Thurinn

        Anyone can be a part of #GamerGate just as anyone can be a consumer who dislikes the way gaming media has been these past few years.

        We do have a few who would speak without hiding their name, Oliver Campbell, an ex games journalist (@Olivercampbell) is one that springs to mind.
        Totalbiscuit or John Bane is another who has done a few interviews in the past not as a member of #GamerGate but rather someone who saw our concerns and took them to any gaming media outlet who would talk to him, he’s quite big in the gaming industry (top steam Curator)

        So to tackle some points you made, certainly with Anon is though in practice fighting for what we believe in, is noble but the problem is we’re dealing with people who will go after family members, you have to remember, they don’t WANT us to talk about it, they want us to keep quiet and they will go to such extreme lengths as to threaten to blow up DC in order to do it.

        There is no list of members in #GamerGate that you can check to say “This is a troll, this isn’t a troll.” just as there are no list of members who use #feminism or #conservative #labor etc.
        I don’t think it’s very reasonable to ignore any concerns someone has (when we provide evidence to back it up) just because of trolls who can easily just put #feminism to silence them.

        If you truly wish a dialogue with us then I would highly recommend a stream/interview with some of the two I’ve recommended, they have much more professional experience in journalism than many of us in #GamerGate could offer.

        You NEED to take this away from text if you want a more civil discussion, where trolls can derail the conversation as they did on twitter and as they are most likely trying on this website.

        • AndrewMSeaman

          But, why do the people you name represent #GamerGate while others don’t? Who decides who represents #GamerGate?

          • Thurinn

            Think of the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, where consumers got together to get an ending that met their expectations. There was no real leader behind it, just consumers who were angry at the ending.
            Even though it was reported by big name youtubers, such as Angryjoe and Totalbiscuit, they weren’t leading it. It’s just that they made good arguments, they’re good speakers and people trust them to be civil.

            So who decides who represents #GamerGate? Depends on the individual. The best way to get a clear answer is to do a straw poll of the names who appeared the most when asking who we’d like (or let us do it on our own social media sites) and let us vote for who we’d like.

          • AndrewMSeaman

            Then, if people remain anonymous, how does someone know it’s actually a fair representation? What stops a handful of people from flooding the post with one suggestion?

          • Thurin

            As in how do you know the person we all vote for is someone we actually want?

            There are a few ways you can check if someone has been apart of #GamerGate, like checking their history, it’s what I do to make sure people who want to follow me are legit and won’t just send me abusive private messages.

            I wouldn’t imagine people voting for say, some random troll to turn up to an event, you’ll find that most people will suggest the same names over and over.
            The truth is that your right, some people won’t be happy with the choice and there isn’t much we can do about that.

            What I can say is people want discussion, who that will be I don’t know, it’s what a vote would have to decide. Here is a question for you and SPJ.

            If we voted for a speaker, someone who was either neutral or pro #GamerGate:
            What would SPJ like them to talk about exactly?
            What kind of speaker would SPJ feel be appropriate for discussion?

            Once we know what SPJ expects from #GamerGate we can (hopefully) make a choice on who would be best up to it and perhaps make a vote who we thought to be appropriate.

          • Jack

            That depends on context.

            In the case of anonymous activism, the appeal is to focus on the issue being raised more than the question of who is raising it – usually in the context of issues that are not really matters of opinion (i.e. clear ethical breaches).

          • Cole Pram

            This is an interesting topic I’ve struggled with quite a bit.

            I unfortunately had someone threaten my kids and to burn down my house for supporting GamerGate. Fortunately for me I wasn’t using my real name, I forgot my password because I hadn’t used twitter for a couple of years, so I started this account, which I use only when talking about GamerGate.

            I’m glad I forgot my password because the anonymity gives me a buffer where I can talk and argue with people without fear of someone coming after my family, or my home, or my job. I do my best to be polite and engaging as best I can, I don’t always succeed.

            Why does representation matter?

            Something I’ve learned from GamerGate is to judge people based on their ideas, not who they are. Anonymity makes that really easy because I don’t have to question myself on, “Do I agree because of this persons because we support the same things, or do I agree because it’s actually a good idea?”

            How do you know who represents GamerGate?

            You don’t know for sure, but the way I handle it is I look through their twitter history. If they frequently retweet certain people, use certain language and express certain concerns, I follow them. I’ve been around since August and there are definitely people I can say with a very high degree of confidence are GamerGate supporters, but it’s not always easy to tell. Generally, if they support ethics and are pro-free speech anti-censorship I’d throw them in the GG pile. If I see anything that looks like they’re attacking people, shaming, belittling, EXCESSIVE mocking, bullying, etc… I throw them in the not likely pile.

            If they don’t have much of a twitter history or don’t follow or are followed by a lot of people I pass, doesn’t mean they’re anti-GG or trolls, it just means I’m unsure. (I’d follow them anyway, but twitter has a follow cap I run into quite a bit)

            If they’re retweeting people I know are “anti-GamerGate” like SrhButts, or Arthur Chu, or A_man_in_black, I toss them in the anti pile.

            If I look at their time line and it’s fulled with gore, they’re probably trolls.

            That said it doesn’t matter if they are GamerGate or not.

            If someone’s making a good point discuss it.

            If someone’s making bad arguments challenge it.
            If someone’s being an asshole and/or trolling, ignore them.

            If someone’s making a claim ask them for or get verification from different sources.

            I admit it’s a lot more work, but the results are great.

          • Frank M

            I am more than happy to be out and proud as a #GamerGate supporter. I have videos here: http://www.dailymotion.com/forgottenforgegames which cover a range of topics as a group.

            You will notice that I do a series to camera which I have continued on Youtube here:

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5MBroNWFbuP7uHUi5svn3g

            You can see that the earliest ‘Shooting Straight’ videos are in the wake of the blow-up of Gamergate, with the Forgotten Forge Games Project in existence for about 18 months beforehand.

            I do not identify with any of the outrageous epithets added to Gamer Culture, but I am a gamer to the core – from video through to board, card and miniature games, which can be seen on other Daily Motion videos.

            I am more than happy to discuss things with anyone in a calm and civil manner.

          • ArsVampyre

            Because they say they do, and the trolls you claim ‘fly the flag’ explicitly have said they don’t. I’d say you could ask them, but they lied to Buzzfeed (and later admitted to doing it to troll).

            Common sense dictates that if it looks like troll behavior online, which I don’t doubt you can spot, that person’s ‘word’ can’t be trusted.

            When the people not trolling all behave generally in one way, and a few people who are trolling behave in another, why label them based on the trolls? It’s not terribly difficult to discern which is which.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    “In general, calls for transparency in journalism are not effective when they come from people who are anonymous.”

    That’s the best summary right there.

  • Brian Grant

    I’ve tried to follow GG and I’ve written on it. The problem with the “ethics” of gaming journalism is how much of gaming journalism is actually journalism? It’s mostly reviews and op-ed pieces. Very little reporting that’s done.

  • Point Less

    So they’re just never going to use their own #SPJEthicsWeek hashtag again? It’s not like they can make another one and GamerGate won’t pile on it again; the problems in gaming journalism isn’t restricted to gaming, but really I’m not sure how to stem the flow of trolls that love hanging on the popular hashtag.

  • http://escapednotice.blogspot.com/ Stephen Rynkiewicz

    Any journalism ethics discussion these days can turn into a lecture on video games. That’s fine if everyone holds to their ethical responsibility to let the voiceless speak. http://ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org/2014/10/28/gamergate-ethics/

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