Before we get started today, it would behoove you to first read this and this so we all have some context. I even made them pop up in new windows because I like you so much. Once you’re done, I’ll meet you back here after the “Read more…”.
There are some pretty strong statements made in both of those articles, but they can be summed up with:
GameDaily article: People who write about games aren’t very good at what they do, and the only way to be a better journalist is to be a better journalist.
1Up article: Some guy I don’t know has no business telling me that I can’t do my job well, and even if he did, it doesn’t matter because we’re writing about games, not something important. We aren’t journalists.
The mind reels. To be fair, the GameDaily article is not the most impressively authored, but Chris Buffa has what he believes to be a legitimate gripe, and I tend to agree: Most of the people that write about video games are poor writers, and most articles about games are poor quality. What makes Chris Buffa qualified to make such a claim? For that matter who am I to say something like that? What are my qualifications? Why is my opinion important? Short answer: I read.
Knowing the difference between a well written article and a poorly written one is pretty easy to do. It would be like me driving a poorly manufactured car, and then calling a manufacturer to tell them what I think is wrong with it. Of course the manufacturer of the car doesn’t know who I am, I’m not Henry Ford, after all. I’ve never designed a car in my life. Their engineers aren’t going to gather around the phone while I rattle off everything that I found wrong with their latest car so they can take notes and fix it, but if enough people have the same problems, then it might be reasonable to take a step back and take a look.
James Mielke takes the article extremely personally, and crafts a maniacal response in his blog. Apparently every time someone passes a link around his office about how someone thinks professional writers who write about games can’t write very well it angers up his blood. It seems that he has yet to realize that he and everyone who writes professionally for a video game site fits the very definition of what a journalist is and does.
I suppose if I were regularly passed links to articles that made blanket statements saying that all the people that do my job are bad at doing it, I might take offense. But I wouldn’t, and I don’t. Why? Because I know that I do my job well. In fact, I know that I do my job to the best of my ability. I know that sounds corny, but if someone passed around a link listing things that people in my position and my industry do wrong, written by someone in my industry, and none of them apply to me, then there’s nothing to get upset over. Honestly, if you were to get that worked up about it, then it sounds like there is at least a grain of truth that rang true.
I am by no means a professional or popular writer, but I like to think I can see a poorly written article. I write articles for this site whenever time permits, and I get on average less than 100 visits a day. To date I have written nearly 300 articles for this site and a few for other sites. I like to consider myself a competent writer, at least on par with many of the ‘professional journalists’, and especially those who write about games, but I have no delusions of popularity or reach. Could my articles be better? Sure, but I make every effort to make them as good as they can be. I read, re-read, proofread, and edit everything that goes up here to ensure that it’s the best I can come up with. It pains me to see articles, written by professionals, that are poorly written, make no sense, or worse, contain typos. Have I told these sites that I found problems in their articles? Yes. Did they listen and fix them? Listen, I don’t know. Fix them, no. Are they obligated to? No. Should they be? That depends. If articles are written poorly enough for a long period of time, then I’ll stop reading. No big deal, the loss of my traffic is but a blip on the major sites’ radar systems. However, the number of articles expressing their dissatisfaction with the quality of games articles shows that there is a significant number of people like me, or at least that appreciate a well written article, and they will go elsewhere if they’re not respected enough to deserve the best articles they can get.
If you write about video game news, you’re a journalist.
If you write reviews and opinions, you’re a columnist. A columnist is a journalist.
If you write an Internet blog, you’re a blogger. A blogger is a columnist. A columnist is a journalist.
Huh… looks like I was qualified to question the quality of video games articles after all.