Hillary Clinton’s Nomination is Historic Because of Her Mistakes, Not In Spite of Them

It’s official: Hillary Clinton is history’s first female presidential nominee for a major political party.  Many on twitter responded to this historic moment with the remark “wish it was a better candidate”.

It was never going to be.

Charlotte Whitton may have cursed ambitious women everywhere when she said ““Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”  Nonsense.  It is difficult, and women shouldn’t be expected to achieve greater outcomes to be seen as equal to men.  Nonetheless, Whitton’s quote is essentially the story of Hillary Clinton.

It’s easy, in the year 2016, to underestimate just how much of Clinton’s narrative was set in the early 1980s, a less gender-equal time when Hillary Clinton was caught between those who hated her for being too “uppity” and ambitious and those who couldn’t stand her for being too traditional.  Clinton is a complex case study as an intelligent, ambitious woman who married a man who couldn’t keep it in his pants.  While Bill was governor and president, Hillary was caught in a difficult spot: embracing the reality of what was going on would destroy her family, since she gave up her own aspirations for his, and she had the future of her daughter to think about.

Yes, she attacked Gennifer Flowers, but any other wife could probably be forgiven for being less than kind to the woman who slept with her husband.  Hillary hasn’t been, all these years later.  And yet she keeps going.

While Bill was president, she was, again, demonized because she wanted to do more than pick out china patterns.  Not only was Hillary crucified for “Hillarycare”, but she doesn’t get any credit from many Sanders supporters for her attempts to promote the closest thing to universal healthcare that any US government has attempted.  Hillary was also demonized in connection to Bill’s infidelity.  Again.  There was the Whitewater scandal, Travelgate, Filegate, and Vince Foster’s death.  It was a period of a lot of smoke – driven by Republicans – but no fire, and the words “no credible evidence” were spoken a lot.  The Lewinsky scandal was the one thing that the Republicans managed to hang on Bill Clinton, because he lied about the affair under oath.  It was the one home run in a period where the Republican crucifixion of Clinton struck out a lot.

It was during this period that Hillary Clinton got the reputation for being a liar.  Mostly because she was Bill’s biggest character witness.  There’s no evidence that Hillary was lying as opposed to repeating the lies she was told, but in politics, people don’t tend to let the truth get in the way of a good story.  And yet she keeps going.

Don’t get me wrong, she made some mistakes in this period.  Everyone makes mistakes.  It’s baffling to me that Hillary Clinton is being blamed for any decisions during this time, however, since she had no official power.

Despite Bill’s disgraceful impeachment, Hillary rebuilt, and her ambitions were on the rise as a senator who was willing to reach across the aisle.  However, her admirable Senate record was marred by a single vote – the one in support of the Iraq war.  28 other Democratic Senators – a majority of Democrats in the senate at the time — did the same thing, including Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and John Kerry.

There’s background to this too, however.  After 9/11, a Senator from New York was as much expected to be a hawk on any country alleged to be connected to the attack on the World Trade Center, as a Senator from Vermont was expected to be more lax on guns than the average liberal.  I also remember the pundit class insisting Clinton had to vote for the war to show “a woman could do it”.  Many people today don’t care about these mitigating factors, and that’s sad, since people are products of their times, and there’s only so much a person can do when they’re fighting against bias regarding portions of their identity.

9/11 also made the urban population in America soil their shorts in terror.  Time has blunted the emotional impact of that event.  The Iraq Resolution was a complete con job by the Bush administration, which used it to authorize a war, then ignored every limitation the resolution was supposed to place on the executive branch.

However, even if you think there was no excuse for Clinton’s support of the second Iraq war, a person must be judged on their successes as well as their failures.  That’s not happening.  And yet she keeps going.

Another complaint among Clinton haters is her “untrustworthy” record regarding LGBTQ rights, notably marriage equality.  As early as 1999, Clinton was offering support for “same-sex unions”, which back then was a way to support gay marriage without offending those of more traditional religious persuasions.  That was actually a progressive stance back then.

I was to the left of Clinton at that time.  Back then, I was pointing out that there was really no difference between a civil union and a civil marriage, so why not just call it marriage?  All marriages done without a religious official involved are civil unions.  But since I was there at that time, I also remember how strong the homophobia was.  Any politician who would even consider the idea of some sort of legally recognized same-sex-relationships status was extremely important.  This idea that Clinton is somehow a secret homophobe is ludicrous, but it’s widespread.  We have to question why.

Her opponent for the Democratic nomination in 2008 was no better at that time regarding same-sex marriage.  A lot of people were not ready to support marriage equality.  Back then, the priority was getting gay couples official recognition as next of kin.  In that context, we didn’t give a damn what a politician called it.  There were a lot of people opposing the idea that gay couples should have any official status at all.  There still are, despite the supreme court decision.

Hillary haters also love to ignore the fact that the 2008 primary was much closer than the tally in 2016.  By some accounts, Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote.  By any account, the pledged delegate count between Obama and Clinton —  1766.5 to 1639.5 — was actually closer than the gap between Clinton and Sanders — 2205 to 1846.  It was a three-way race that year with John Edwards.  Back then, it was a big deal that the Democratic party, en masse, revolted against the idea of another Clinton in the White House.  They wanted someone more to the left, and they put their thumb on the scale.  That practice in the DNC isn’t a new thing, and I’m not sure that it’s going to change.

2008 was another contest the superdelegates decided.  There was much less agreement, even among those party insiders, on the outcome.  Clinton showed exceptional leadership in defeat, enthusiastically working to unite the party.  She gets no credit now for that.  And yet she keeps going.

She became a popular and competent Secretary of State.  Her greatest achievements weren’t “texts from Hillary” or a cease fire in the Middle East.  It was what didn’t happen.  The debacles avoided.  But once again, one thing went catastrophically wrong: Benghazi.

Benghazi, at first glance, seems like an undeniable cock up.  Mistakes were definitely made, and people died.  But the Republicans successfully separated Benghazi from a much larger historical context.  Firstly, the State Department was dealing with a security budget shortfall of $270 million thanks to Republicans slashing spending in practically every level of government under threat of a government shutdown.  Secondly, deadly attacks on US embassies and embassy personnel are not uncommon.  During George W. Bush’s administration, 39 attacks occurred, and 20 of those attacks resulted in fatalities.  The total number of deaths from these attacks, according to Politifact, was 87 people.  These deaths are seen by some as “less important” because they weren’t Americans, and they certainly weren’t American ambassadors.  So much for “all lives matter”.

Still, at least 3 US civilians were killed in embassy attacks during Dubya’s tenure.  Security breaches are to Hillary what extra-marital affairs are to Bill – plenty of politicians do it, but it’s only a catastrophe if your name is Clinton.  That doesn’t excuse sloppy security or adultery.  It just indicates that there is, indeed, some element of double standard.  This double standard has cost taxpayers millions of dollars  in wasted expenditures.

Out of the numerous Benghazi investigations came the private server scandal, and the Republicans finally had an unequivocal mistake on Clinton’s part.  If we lived in a logical world, it should have been a minor mistake: not only did both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell use personal email during their tenures as Secretary of State, but Powell used a very-much-not-secure AOL account.  They both sent and received classified information, or at least information that eventually became classified.  Dubya just made that totally okay to do via an executive order that said the Secretary of State had the power to classify and declassify any document created by the State Department.

Clinton’s explanation that she thought using private email was okay because others before her had done it actually has an element of plausibility.  No one cares.

That wasn’t the mistake.  The mistake was thinking that the game was fair.  That far into her political career, Hillary Clinton should have been well aware that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.  Especially if your name is Clinton.

All that brings the total of major mistakes Clinton has made since 1979 to a whopping total of twelve unforced errors.

Twelve major mistakes.  In 37 years.  I wish I had that track record.  Hell, Donald Trump screws up twelve times in a month!

But that’s twelve more big mistakes than many people are used to seeing a woman make, because woman having enough power to make such mistakes is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Similarly loathed women in history have included Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel,  Julia Gillard, Sarah Palin, and Nancy Reagan.  It’s not that these women were free of mistakes.  It’s that the criticism of them went beyond the mistakes they actually made into the illogical grey area of “unlikeability”.

Popular male politicians like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton can make some pretty massive mistakes and still have high approval ratings.  George W. Bush is still received with respect despite breaking the world.  Meanwhile, women in high-ranking political positions are crucified for every stumble.

This isn’t my opinion.  This is history.  Something is up here.

Clinton’s 2008 concession to Barack Obama gave women everywhere an example of how to fail with grace, and we very much need those examples.  Becoming a woman is a ritualized, systematic, hiding of flaws: we conceal facial flaws with makeup, bodily flaws with uncomfortable “support garments”, hair dye for grey hair, plastic surgery for everything else, and a coy smile in place of voiced opinions.  Brainy women, at least in my 80s era generation, had an extra layer of mistake-driven terror: we were right a lot, so when we were wrong, everyone around us swarmed like piranhas to laugh and jeer at our failure.  Guess we weren’t better than them after all!  Guess we weren’t really so smart!

There was a fear, not so long ago, that smart, opinionated women would have trouble attracting husbands.  There was no template for where we belonged as women other than Velma from Scooby Doo which… didn’t help.  Anne of Green Gables was a somewhat better role model, as was Jo from Little Women, but those books were written in an age where becoming a schoolteacher or a writer was like being a CEO today.  These were hardly great examples of career aspirations.

Women like Hillary Clinton, women like me, are still considered “shrews”, “bitches”, “harpies” and other less kind descriptions.  There are no equivalent insults leveled at men.

It’s one thing to say that women can be president in the abstract.  It’s a different thing entirely to show us how that can be done.  Hillary Clinton is doing that, one unsure, paranoid step at a time, with thin ice below her, that cracked glass ceiling above.  It’s a precarious place, and even if you hate her, she’s earned your respect.

Respect is what’s left when you don’t really like someone.  The media has given us little reason to like Hillary Clinton.  However, her persistence, her ability to just keep going and just keep things done… that’s worthy of our respect.

Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination isn’t a major milestone in spite of her mistakes.  It’s because of them.  She set an example for women everywhere that flaws and failure are not the end.

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The Uncomfortable Task of Defending Mike Ward’s Free Speech Rights

Mike Ward is acting like a creep.

Let’s get that out of the way right now.  Ward’s behaviour in continuing to mock a bullied young man with a disability is indefensible.  I don’t care if it’s a comedy routine.  I don’t care if it’s in the interests of free speech.  Grown ups should pick on grown ups and not kids.  Stop it, Mike Ward.

The media is equally to blame for any additional bullying this young man receives, since they continue to splash his name and image all over the internet, providing no context that Ward’s behaviour is very wrong… even if it’s not a violation of anyone’s human rights.  In their opinion.  The Quebec human rights tribunal disagrees.

And this is where we get to the point where I have to make the case that the ruling against Ward’s disgusting behaviour is, in the context it was made, a very bad precedent.

The argument is that the young man, Jérémy Gabriel, had his dignity violated when Ward mocked the young man’s appearance — facial deformities caused by a condition called Treacher Collins Syndrome, a medical condition that affects the bones and tissues of the face.  I’m almost inclined to agree with the judge here that Ward wasn’t just making fun of a person.  Ward was cruelly mocking the young man, who was only 14 or 15 years old at the time, for having a disability.

Like I said, Ward’s behaviour disgusts me.  But note that I also said “almost inclined to agree”.

I’m no stranger to bullying myself.  I’ve been picked on my entire life for my appearance, including being told by so-called evangelical Christians at my school that spotted skin — a reference to my freckles — was a mark of Satan.

But I can relate to poor Jérémy’s story in another way.  When I was seventeen, I got dumped by a guy.  Within days of that breakup, which I was told was at the suggestion of his therapist, I received a call.  It was a stand up comedian at a popular local comedy club, calling from my ex-boyfriend’s cell phone.  With my ex-boyfriend in the audience.

The comedian proceeded to mock me in a goofy voice, referring to personal details of the defunct relationship, while I could hear the audience laughing loudly in the background.

I started crying.  I asked the comedian why he was doing this.  Apparently the audience could hear me, because it went silent.  At some point, I swore at him, and slammed the phone down.  I remember this detail because I got in trouble from my mother for dropping an f-bomb in front of her friends.  What can I say?  I’m the product of fairly strict parenting.

There was follow up with the club, which tried to defend the comedian.  The comedian himself never contacted me or did anything directly to try to make it right.  I was told by the club the comedian “felt bad”, but not that he knew what he’d done was wrong.  Of course not.  That gets you sued.

My mother and I were offered free passes to the comedy club.  I refused them, feeling like they were trying to buy me off with surprisingly little.  In a shocking twist of irony, I had to perform at that very same club years later as part of my job, because it was, at the time, the biggest comedy club in the city.  I did it, but I’ve never forgotten the cruelty, and the apathy after the fact.  I don’t even remember the comedian’s name, but I do remember the name of the executive at the club that tried to sweep it under the rug.

Again, I won’t say his name, because that gets you sued.

All I wanted was for everyone involved to realize that what they did was wrong; specifically, it was wrong to drag in someone over a telephone who didn’t pay admission, and therefore didn’t consent to be a part of the show.  I don’t remember if they ever agreed to that, and I was left feeling like there were no real consequences for what the comedian did.  He never had to apologize directly to me.

Similarly, Mike Ward doesn’t seem to realize what he did was wrong, because he’s still doing it.  He’s still mocking the kid in relation to this tribunal decision.  The media is also repeating the joke.  The media should not be repeating the joke.

So this Quebec human rights decision has further robbed Jérémy Gabriel of his dignity, instead of beginning the healing process.  And my God, I feel terrible for the kid, because I know what it’s like.

You feel dehumanized.  You feel like the world has determined that you’re less deserving of decency and kindness because of something you can’t control.  You feel powerless to set personal boundaries, because the world isn’t giving you the tools to do so.  You look ahead toward the rest of your life, and all you see is more mockery, more cruelty, and more hate.

If this sounds maudlin, keep in mind, we’re dealing with a teenaged mindset.

The goal here is to get the mockery of Jérémy Gabriel to stop, and this decision didn’t do that.  It made it worse.  In attempting to “get tough” on hate speech, the Quebec human rights tribunal just became complicit in spreading it around.

I’m a big believer in free speech, and I don’t believe there should have been a human rights complaint against Mike Ward.  I think that there should be some system that made Mike Ward have to face the young man that he mocked for money and attention.  If the kid was bullied, Mike Ward should have had to go into the schools, admit he was wrong, and set a positive example instead of continuing to set a negative one.

We shouldn’t need to be talking about human rights in this case.  What Mike Ward did was just an old-fashioned rejection of basic human decency.

Jérémy Gabriel is disabled, and Mike Ward should be damned grateful that he’s able-bodied and doesn’t have symptoms that can include vision loss, deafness and breathing problems.  It’s not funny to make fun of someone’s disability without their consent — I add the consent caveat because many comedians, including myself, include their personal biographies in their own material.  One of the funniest stand-up comedians I personally know, Andre Arruda, does hysterical material surrounding his experiences as a disabled person.

But making fun of a kid isn’t fair game.  Please, someone show this article to Mike Ward, and try to get him to understand that.

There’s a wrinkle to this, however, and it speaks to an uncomfortable element of our free-speech-driven society.  Jérémy Gabriel isn’t just any kid.  Jérémy Gabriel is a performer and something of a celebrity, having sung for the Pope.  Once you cross over into the public realm that way, you open yourself up to a greater degree of criticism, and that criticism is often scathingly cruel.

I can speak to this as well.  I was a competitive dancer, starting seriously at the age of 14.  You had to get tough fast in that world, because adults constantly mocked our bodies — our weight, our breast development, even criticizing teenagers going through that notorious awkward phase for not being beautiful enough for the judges’ liking.  The dance world is brutal.  The problem with becoming a youth performer is that you’re ending your childhood early.  You’re stepping into the realm of professional performer, and you have to grow up fast or it eats you alive.

And it almost did eat me alive, but that’s a story for another time.

More to the current point, I speak from experience here from both sides.  I produced and co-wrote a show for MuchMusic called Fromage, which was an annual special starring Ed the Sock where we made fun of the most overplayed music videos of the calendar year.  We went out of our way to make it as fair as possible, allowing the audience to both nominate and vote on the videos that were going into the special, because at times it did get mean-spirited.

Some of the people we made fun of were minors.  Notably Britney Spears.  It was assumed that Spears was fair game because she waded into the growing culture war by declaring that, despite her sexualized music video content, that she was a virgin.  Spears was very young at the time, but the assumption in entertainment is that someone that rich and famous is, to an extent, shielded by handlers from haters.  Spears eventually cracked up, so I guess we were wrong about that.

A joke also got through once that was perceived to fat-shame Missy Elliot.  I didn’t write it, but I still regret not catching the problem.  It wasn’t intended to fat shame — it was intended to mock a particular series of images that had Missy gliding across the floor on her stomach, face down.  The joke was “What’s she doing?  Looking for crumbs?”

Like I said, I didn’t catch the unintentional subtext at the time.  In hindsight, I get it, and we were more careful moving forward.  The lines in comedy are often very blurry, and not everyone is going to agree.  So this is where I put on my comedian hat and make the case that a human rights complaint was not the way to punish Mike Ward for, again, legitimately deplorable behaviour.

I give the Jérémy Gabriels of the world credit for standing up to the Mike Wards of the world.  I just think that the best way to get guys like Mike Ward to stop being disgusting is to use your own free speech rights to take them on in a battle of ideas.  If Ward can dish out this kind of mockery, he should be able to take it.  It’s easy to beat Ward at his own game, because making fun of a kid’s disability simply isn’t funny.  There are plenty of jokes that can be made at Mike Ward’s expense, such as…

Should a guy REALLY be making fun of a kid’s looks when he looks like a cross between Steve Buscemi and BeBop?  Not judging!  Just saying!

mike-ward bebop3

Or this:

Mike Ward should know that fellow comedian Bob Saget has a nephew with Treacher Collins Syndrome.  The two should talk, so Ward can learn brand new ways to be totally unfunny.

Or this:

Mike Ward says he was fined for treating a disabled boy like an equal.  Well, sure dude.  No one wants to be compared to a Canadian stand-up comic!

Or something more broadly insulting:

Quebec comedian Mike Ward is best known for things that offend and annoy other Canadians.  Like almost everything else that comes out of Quebec.  Poutine is an apology gift.

For the record, I don’t actually think Mike Ward is ugly, Bob Saget is unfunny, that Canadian comedians are the lowest form of life, or that everyone hates Quebecers.  You stretch things for jokes.  But if Mike Ward tells these sorts of jokes, he should be able to take them.  Believe it or not, a lot of comedians are very thin-skinned and approval seeking, and mockery is an effective way to modify their behaviour.

Instead of making Mike Ward into a free speech hero, the way a $42,000 series of fines does, we should be asking the hard questions about what exactly happened here.  Why did a kid get bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts because of comedy material that should, by rights, be reserved for adult audiences only?  Why didn’t Jérémy Gabriel’s community leaders lead, and why didn’t his teachers teach, to get the bullying to stop?

Well, we know that teachers don’t intervene because they don’t want to get sued.  So the entire system is suffering because of too much litigation.  Our system of laws is designed to promote good behaviour, but it’s getting in the way of that now.  Companies and individuals won’t offer simple apologies to people, or try to make things right, because it creates a higher likelihood they’ll be successfully sued.

We need a system that encourages self-directed accountability.  We need a system focused on restorative justice.  Financial penalties won’t curb Mike Ward’s behaviour here, because one TV special based on his increased notoriety will turn him a profit in this situation.

Ward just doesn’t seem moved by the pain of a young man who had the genetic deck stacked against him, and this is being lost in an understandable defence of Free Speech protections.  The systemic overreach is clear in this case, since it’s accomplished the precise opposite of what it’s intended to do.

Put Mike Ward in a room with the kid and make him sit and say nothing while Jérémy Gabriel walks him through the pain his “humour” caused.  Make it clear that when you know the subject of your jokes is really hurt by your jokes — not offended, but sincerely caused pain — and you keep telling the same damned jokes… that crosses the line between comedy and bullying.

Mike Ward is no longer a comedian here.  Mike Ward has become, in this one instance, a bully.  He’s been told to stop mocking a disabled kid and he won’t stop.  And we should be able to call that out.

That’s the best way to enact real change here.  As is, the Quebec tribunal and the media at large are complicit in continuing to repeat Ward’s cruelty in the guise of humour.

 

 

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On Editors’ Roles in Faulty Games Journalism

There’s a hidden part of the games writing process – all writing, in fact –that creates headaches for both games journalists and fans alike.  I’m speaking of the editing process, wherein a third party, who is essentially unaccountable for their words, has a great deal of power over the content of the final article.  An editor can make changes, deletions, and additions to the original article which can change its meaning, and these changes are then published as the author’s words, sometimes without the author seeing the changes.

The process of working with a skilled, attentive editor is a joy.   It makes a writer’s work better, and every professional writer wants to keep getting better.  However, most editors are rushed, and take shortcuts that eliminate communication with the writer.  Many editors in games end up being an uncredited rewriter, leaving a writer on the hook for views they don’t actually hold.

A simple example from a recent encounter with an editor was a comment I made about superheroes too often turning into Hitler-wannabes, a reference to the Avengers scene with Loki and Captain America where some extra makes a direct reference to World War II.  An editor decided he didn’t want to “Godwin” the article, so he changed the line from “Hitler-wannabes” to “strongmen”.  The resulting comment made no sense.  Why the hell would I complain about superheroes being strongmen?  Superheroes are inherently strongmen.  They’re superheroes!

Had that article gone to print, I would have been stuck with an extremely stupid comment on my record.

One very serious change of this sort did end up in a national newspaper where an editor inserted a gamergate reference I had not made.  When my twitter blew up with people screaming at me, I had no idea what was going on.  It wasn’t until I checked the printed version of the article that I saw the change.  I was, understandably, furious, but it was fairly impotent fury.  All I could do was ask nicely for the comment to be removed.  I had no power.  Fortunately, the comment was removed… from the online edition.  The print copy couldn’t be changed, so it’s still out there.

After the line was removed, accusations started that I was passing off accountability on others.  People thought I was blaming an editor because I caught hell.  There was nothing I could do.  I knew what the truth was, but I couldn’t prove it.  I had no record of the changes because everything had happened so fast.  I’m paranoid, but not that paranoid.

One may wonder what an editor was thinking, throwing a unwitting games journalist into the middle of an ugly fight like gamergate.  And I wish I could say it happened only once.  Depending on the source you check, I’m either “clearly pro-gamergate” or “secretly anti-gamergate”, when in fact I was just a reporter looking to talk to credible sources on both sides.  At some point, the anti-gamergate side determined I was the enemy and refused to speak to me, so I gathered the facts I could because it was clearly a story people cared about.  Some folks on the pro-gamergate side tried to do the same thing, but a core group within those ranks made a point of keeping dialogue open, even though they didn’t like what I was saying a lot of the time.

I think it’s wrong to try to shame and blackmail journalists into backing away from something that requires unbiased documentation.  A journalist’s job is to talk to people.  Sometimes that means talking to people with whom you disagree, or even people you find disgusting.  The only reason to shut that down is if you believe a source is deliberately feeding you false information in an attempt to pollute the public record.

The thing is, editors and activists do these misguided things thinking they’re helping.  Unlike the reporters, they have no direct contact with the information that’s been collected, and in this vacuum, it’s very easy to alter things in a way that makes the story inaccurate.  The editor is then the one that makes the decision to issue a correction.  The reporter can make their case, but ultimately has no say.  A good editor makes a reporter better.  Not-so-good editors crush an eager reporter’s spirit.  This isn’t just true in gaming.  The turnover rate in media is high for a reason.

I’ve been on the other end of this as a subject of articles, especially during my TV days.  When I first took over as co-host of Ed and Red’s Night Party!, a supportive reporter offered to help promote the first female co-host in the history of the show.  In the editing process, a single word was changed in the first paragraph of the article that took a totally benign introduction and turned it into an implication that I’d gotten the job via the casting couch.  I was furious and the journalist was mortified.  He sent me the original story he’d written, which was actually radically different from what went to press.  The offending line wasn’t the only change.  The editor had gutted the article to shorten the word count.

It’s things like this that make journalists so cynical, and so seemingly uncaring when a mistake is made.  There’s nothing we can do about this part of the process.  If we complain too much, we lose work because we’re “trouble”.  Similarly, when you’re ahead of the curve in media, and you become so used to being picked apart that you become deaf to some criticisms that may actually be useful, simply due to the sheer amount of criticism you receive on a given day.  You can’t take all of it to heart.  An editor or producer is supposed to be someone you can trust to steer you in the right direction.  Sadly, that’s not the reality of many people in the media.

These issues are some of the reasons I’ve stepped away from games journalism and became an analyst instead.  I feel like I can do better work when my words aren’t filtered by a revolving door of editors I’ve never met in person.  I still do writing, but now I can walk away if my words aren’t my words, and I have a place where I can publish the original text of what I wrote.

On a human level, I also have empathy for other gamers who feel like they’re being unfairly depicted as monsters by their own enthusiast press.  I’ve found it’s too difficult to offer an alternative opinion under traditional media structures.  I can’t control how the establishment does business.  All I can do is inform people about what actually happens in the games press to the best of my ability.

I’m one of the few people in this business who has been on both sides of the media circus, so I know how infuriating and hurtful it is when the press gets it wrong, or worse, demonizes someone for clicks.  The thing that isn’t talked about enough is the fact that it often happens through broken telephone, not an intent to deceive.  It’s hard to believe how badly something can get warped, just through the intervention of an editor who wasn’t on the scene, or a producer who recuts a segment without sufficient knowledge of the facts.

Unless an editor is willing to explain a change to a writer, don’t make the change.  That sounds simple, but it’s harder than you think when everyone’s terrified of being fired because there are so many games professionals out of work.  It’s a system that’s made up of dogs eating dogs in a shark tank.

Forgive the circular sentence, but the games industry hurting is hurting the games industry.  It’s also hurting the games community, individual developers, and fans, and so we need to do better.  Talking to each other and being supportive professional partners isn’t the terrifying thing it’s made out to be.  Conflicts will happen; that’s okay as long as they’re properly resolved.  People make mistakes; that’s not an unforgiveable sin.

The things we can fix are the parts of games journalism that are structurally unaccountable, and structural issues can be addressed without assigning blame or fault.  The first step towards fixing this is to better inform the public regarding how games are made, and how articles get published.

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