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Please Read Jason’s Very Helpful Guide To Serious Video Game Reporting

Frans van Heerden

Back during Inside Baseball week I published a very broad games journalism/criticism FAQ. It touched on reporting, but only briefly. If you ever wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of how news is broken in this business--specifically, how sourcing works--do I have the post for you.

Intrepid video games reporter Jason Schreier (disclaimer: we've all worked with him) has written up a lengthy guide to some terminology over on r/GamingLeaksAndRumours, a community whose heart is in the right place but who could also do with some gentle instruction on how credible news is actually reported.

Saying that you "often see a lot of misunderstanding here about how reporting works", Schreier goes into great detail about the different types of sources a reporter can make use of, and some warnings about a reliance on visual documentation (like blurry screenshots).

Most useful for someone without much awareness of journalism technicalities is a breakdown of the differences between second-hand and primary sources. A lot of people might see the word "sources" in a story or a tweet and just run with it, but as Schreier says, there's a world of difference between some guy who knows a guy at Nintendo hearing something and a professional reporter speaking to multiple people at Nintendo directly about it.

Nintendo's buying Microsoft? Well, I heard it from someone who heard it from someone...

Many of the rumors posted on this subreddit are coming from secondhand, thirdhand, or even more distant sources (when they're not simply made up). There are a couple of Discords where this kind of information is circulated, and often that gets out to the public through Twitter, podcasts, etc. Someone in localization for PlayStation passed along a message that got passed to someone who knows someone who dropped it in chat and bam, there's suddenly an account tweeting cryptic emoji.

These rumors sometimes turn out to be correct, but the further removed from the original source you get, the more likely that something gets garbled along the way. Also, the folks sharing information from these kinds of sources are less likely to be diligent about making sure everything is buttoned up. They're also more likely to be vague and cryptic because they know they don't really have the goods.

That last line might be the most useful of all. There are so many people on social media, Reddit, YouTube and other platforms who are trying to make a name for themselves as leakers or reporters, but whose sole output are "vague and cryptic" messages because they don't actually know shit. It's certainly a noise problem!

Hopefully, armed with some of the knowledge here, if wading into rumours is your thing you'll be better equipped to sift through all this in the future!

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