Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Opinion: GamePolitics.com, Gamespot, and VG24/7 Shamelessly Mis-quote Politico Article.

Game Politics and Bad Reporting

Gaming news sources GamePolitics.com, Gamespot, and VG24/7 have all incorrectly referenced an article from Politico.com relating to Vice President Joe Biden – Biden: Gun control to wait for immigration

It’s not uncommon in the world of "journalism" for information to be steered in a direction that is more in-line with a channels focus or aims but it’s important that we, as readers and consumers of said information, are objective and regularly fastidious with what we choose to take on board.

On Monday evening Vice President Joe Biden met with several religious leaders to discuss the ongoing work towards better gun control methods, and more importantly, to gain further backing in preparation for a possible re-vote on the gun control bill. The bill would include a background check bill and gun trafficking bill; currently Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “has no plans to call for another gun control vote […] before there are 60 solid votes in favor “, Politico states.

My shout of faux pas comes later on in the article when the suggestion is made that any media and entertainment that portrays violence should be liable for special tax. You can read the original article here, but bellow is the specific section that GamePolitics.com, Gamespot, and VG24/7 have incorrectly reported and for which reason I have taken umbrage with:

'Graham, two people in the meeting said, told Biden the government should consider taxing media companies that broadcast violent images and produce violent video games.

“He floated the idea that media and entertainment that portray violence should be subject to a special tax, with the proceeds going to help victims and their families," said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.'

In this excerpt you can clearly read the suggestion for such taxation rules was “floated” by Bill Graham, but reported by Rabbi Julie Schonfeld.

'Biden told Graham that there was “no restriction on the ability to do that, there’s no legal reason why they couldn't” tax violent images, Clark added.[…]'

Biden’s response is then quoted by Clark. In my understanding this response is essentially saying ‘yes that could be a possibility, but…’ kind of thing. But here, I feel, is the true response to Graham’s initial proposition:

'[…] Biden told the religious leaders that he would like to see a comprehensive study of the impact that violent video games and movies has on developing brains.

“He said they really need a good scientific study, which they've done on things like smoking,” Clark said."'

From that I believe we can gather a very authentic and unambiguous message; Biden would agree to such tax rules would be necessary IF there was tangible evidence that violent media and entertainment showed any correlations or connections to gun crime; IF enough scientific research was conducted and revealed these allegations to have any veracity.

Here’s what the three gaming sources - mentioned above - have taken from this same excerpt; starting with GamePolitics.com since they were the first to post on this subject.

'Graham in late April to tax violent media might be a good idea. Participants in the session told Politico that Mr. Biden said there’s "no restriction on the ability to do that; there’s no legal reason why they couldn’t."

Well except for the U.S. Constitution, oh and multiple rulings from the Supreme Court - including a little case called Brown v. EMA...'

Not one mention of Biden’s subsequent response, but they’re happy to cut the quote prematurely insert their own factious remark.

'United States Vice President Joe Biden believes it would be no problem to tax violent games. As part of a recent gun legislation strategy meeting with religious leaders, Biden said that an idea brought forth by Reverend Franklin Graham to tax violent media could be a smart move. […]'

Gamespot start their report by already taking some liberties and stating Biden had commented on the suggestion made by Reverend Graham as a “smart move”. However they also reference to Biden’s input for research, but has again taken some clear liberties from how it was originally phrased to something that matches their own agenda.

'[…] He also said that that he would like to see a comprehensive study done regarding the impact of violent games and movies on young people.'

'Biden said that there was “no restriction on the ability to do that, there’s no legal reason why they couldn't” implement such a tax in the United States. 

No peer-reviewed study has ever demonstrated a direct causative link between violent media and violent actions, according to UKIE boss Jo Twist, and there is significant pressure in the US to tighten gun control rather than access to media.'

More neutral in their siding for this subject but still omitting some key points, VG24/7 are covering the bare bones with little elaboration. 

My biggest complaint is how each of these sources have chosen to ignore that the statements were made not by the actual people in question, but secondary accounts from people who were present at the meeting. Now this might seem pedantic but in reality the writers are erroneously contributing to community vitriol. What’s more, with violent media and entertainment being common scapegoats for gun crime, it seems counter-productive to then twist positive actions that are being taken in order to raise awareness of the necessity for tighter gun controls.

Why shake the bee hive when there is no reason? For readership

Well then, shame on them! And shame on you, the reader, for buying into this personal agenda and not taking more time to read the original article or being more objective to the situation. 

I can’t say whether this step in the right direction will ultimately pay off, but each individual in the gaming community are de-facto representatives of this micro-society and we should be aiming to elevate ourselves and our love for this media to a better place. But we can’t do this if we aren't willing to grow, think for ourselves and question what we read – failing that we are likely to become just another group for the media to take for long walks whenever they see fit.

I have reached out to all three publications with a genial comment raising this issue; not to be that guy who thinks he can call them out when I have no experience myself, but because it’s all too easy for this community to be shredded from the outside. 

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