Forgets To Source Another Exclusive, Remedies Mistake

It wasn’t too long ago that IGN received quite the critique from’s News Editor Luke Smith over IGN’s editorial policy when 1UP broke the story that the Stamper brothers were leaving Rare. (IGN originally didn’t link to 1UP’s story.) IGN later tossed a link to 1UP’s story in the news story. However, it wouldn’t be the last time. Now its happened again, as a VGMW reader pointed out to me yesterday.

Both Cubed3 and Sp0ng produced similar exclusive interviews this week with Square-Enix’s Hiromichi Tanaka this week, and many sites (1UP, Game|Life, Detructoid, Joystiq) sourced one of these publications in their stories. However, when IGN ran their story, they sourced no one (see below).

The story said “In a recent interview,” but then failed to provide a source for the quote. Usually you’d see “In a recent interview with [insert publication name here]” or “When talking with [publication name], Tanaka had the follow to say.” Or when citing your own publication, there should have been at least been a self-referential citation (”When speaking with IGN, Mr. Tanaka…”). Yet there was nothing.

I contacted IGN’s Editorial Director Tal Blevins for clarification as to why there was no source attributed to the quote. He told me he would be looking into the matter, and then restated IGN’s policy on citing sources (”However, it is always our intention as reporters to cite relevant sources.”).

A few minutes later, Tal got back to me and said, that after talking with the editor who wrote the story, that the lack of attribution was incidental and an “oversight.” He said that the article would be amended, and it indeed has, with a link to Sp0ng’s interview with Tanaka.

This might come across as petty, but imagine how you’d feel if you were a writer for Cubed3 or Sp0ng, sites with readership much smaller than 1UP, IGN, or GameSpot. Scoring an exclusive are lofty dreams, and then it happens and people don’t source you? That’s a crappy feeling, and ultimately not fair to the sites who originally broke the story.

Let me make it clear that I’m not trying to vilify IGN here. They admitted it was an oversight, corrected the problem, and now the source gets their due. However, proper attribution is becoming an increasing problem because as writers, especially those for internet publications, rush to post stories they sometimes can’t peel back through all the layers of the onion to find the story’s original source. Let’s all make a concerned effort to help curb this problem by taking an extra few minutes to properly cite our sources.

Sloppy Reporting 101: 1UP Bought By Dell?

While its been reported elsewhere that that Ziff-Davis is looking to sell the Game Group (1UP, EGM, GFW), three writers took things a little too far after seeing the Dell logo on a page, branded for a Dell homepage/portal site. Check out this page to see a Dell branded Google page — did Dell buy Google too?!

I first spotted the particular story over on Destructoid, where writer Ishaan Sahdev stated:

No, I’m not kidding. A few days back we reported Ziff Davis was selling 1UP and EGM. Well, it looks like the site’s already been bought and is now within the unforgiving claws of Dell. Notice the new logo in the top left corner of the site.

There’s no attempt to at least work with a little discretion other than some italics tags around ‘looks’. If Dell really, really had purchased 1UP, don’t you think there would have been a tad more press about it? An editor’s note was added to the Destructoid post later, stating: “While everything so far indicates that 1UP has been bought over, it hasn’t been confirmed.” Um, what exactly made up the “everything so far,” Mr. Editor? A tiny advert not even featured on the main page, eh? That’s just jumping to conclusions when no evidence really existed on a subpage.

Later I saw the story pop up on Joystiq, but the story has since then been deleted… but not by my RSS feed reader! Blake Snow penned the extremely open ended piece stating:

Sensational headline aside [”Dell to purchase 1UP, EGM?”], something fishy is going on at 1UP. The site is now sporting Dell branding only days after both it and EGM were put on sale by Ziff Davis. At the time of posting, random refreshes of yielded the above results. consistently yielded the above results. So is Dell — who has recently started selling gamer specific PCs — buying or have bought 1UP/EGM? We’d assume a company wouldn’t update an acquired site without striking a deal a first. That is, if a deal wasn’t already struck behind closed doors… 

The Joystiq story is a little more open-ended in its reporting, leaving the possibility that this deal might actual not be anything substantial. However, the sensationalist headline was accompanied with some sensationalist text — “something fishy is going on at 1UP?”

However, that wouldn’t be the last time I saw this non-story reported on, as Kotaku’s Flynn De Marco got in on the action. However, his is the one story I didn’t mind in the slightest. Why? Because he entitled the story “Rumor: 1up Welcomes New Dell Overlords.” Even if the story turned out to be false, he made sure to indicate to readers the actual content of his post might be a little suspect. He also make sure to tempers the piece and throws out the fact he actually put a little research into it:

I immediately started messaging around and asking people to check it for themselves. Oddly, some see it and some don’t. It’s all very mysterious. It seems people using Firefox can see it, while IE users don’t. It is possible that this is some sort of ad branding, but odd that it would look like this and come at such an inopportune time what with all the news of 1Up being up for grabs.

While Kotaku did the best job (with Destructoid doing the worst and Joystiq being somewhere in between the two), the way this story progressed through the series of tubes and pipes that make up the Internet is just kind of embarrassing. I feel that this story wouldn’t have been picked up at all if not for the GameSetWatch piece making the rounds, but it’s up to each site and their writers to report situations responsibility, and not just grasp at straws — which is exactly what this looked like to me.