On two separate counts of alleged journalistic impropriety, the ACMA has found the Australian Broadcasting Corporation faultless. The investigation rendered states that the ABC had the leeway to report only on the harassment that the media fabricated around #GamerGate and that the 7:30 nightly news program was not beholden to publish the whole truth.
The entire investigation results were published over on the ACMA’s website. The two accounts of impropriety put forward by viewers were that the ABC program lacked due impartiality and that it lacked diverse perspectives.
According to the ACMA, the ABC had leeway to not focus on every aspect of #GamerGate and that if they only wanted to present a story centering around fabricated or unsubstantiated information, such as the concocted “harassment campaign”, then they have every right to do so. The ACMA states…
“The complainants have alleged that the segment lacked impartiality through favouring a particular perspective and omitting other views relevant to an understanding of GamerGate. In this view, GamerGate is a consumer revolt concerning ethics in computer games journalism, and not, as per the focus of the segment, a scandal relating to alleged misogyny in video gaming.
“Under the ABC Code, the ABC has latitude to explore a particular issue within the context of a complicated and controversial issue such as GamerGate”
Essentially, it’s the same excuse that the CBC has used to dodge responsibility – they also claimed that surmising #GamerGate within the context of being a consumer movement about sending rape and death threats to female developers as an acceptable description. This is what the CBC News Radio program director went on record to say.
I would love to see someone use the same excuse for blatantly misrepresenting national conflicts like the fight over the Gaza strip or the conflict between Russia and Ukraine by summing up said events using biased or inaccurate information. I would also love to see an ethics commission step in and excuse the biased reporting on the grounds that the reporter used a “neutral” tone to dispense misinformation. I wonder how well that would go over with the general public?
Anyway, the ACMA acknowledges that #GamerGate is about ethical concerns in gaming journalism, but that it wasn’t required of the ABC to provide any of the relevant facts concerning those issues, as the whole thing – according to them – could very well center around harassment, and that lying by omission is apparently a very acceptable thing in today’s media. The report states…
“The ACMA accepts that GamerGate also covers ethical concerns about gaming journalism and, relevant to the complainants’ position, that those who hold this view do not necessarily condone threats or harassment against women. Further, insofar as it is relevant, as the use of hashtags to connect themes inherently contains a plurality of voices, users are likely to hold a range of viewpoints.
“However, the ACMA has, in previous investigations, noted that programs are entitled to take specific lines of enquiry and there is no requirement in the ABC Code for all facts that are potentially relevant to a program to be presented.”
I would wager that not including the facts can vastly change the interpretation of a story. I mean, adding or removing facts like someone was shot in cold blood when in fact they had a gun on them can vastly alter the interpretation of a story, no? Or perhaps a story about a woman killing a man in the bedroom after stabbing him multiple times might look grizzly to most people… although omitting the fact that sexual abuse had occurred could vastly alter the interpretation of that story to the general audience, no?
According to the ACMA report, they state that…
“The ordinary reasonable viewer would have understood that GamerGate covers a range of broad and contentious issues, that the segment focussed on one aspect and that other
A few lines later they also state the following in regards to follow-up coverage of the issue, stating…
“As noted above, the segment would not have been understood by an ordinary reasonable viewer as being exhaustive reportage of all the perspectives and issues in relation to
“Relevantly, the ABC has submitted that the amount of detail that could be allocated to individual views on GamerGate was driven primarily by the availability of pro-GamerGate interviewees willing to be filmed at the PAX Convention, time constraints and the editorial choice about the relevance of comments to the main focus of the story.“
According to the ACMA, the ABC tried reaching out to 30 individuals at the PAX event on hand but couldn’t find any single individual to go on record, on camera, and offer a counter-view for the segment.
I had asked the reporter previously why they didn’t include Christina Hoff Sommers, who had recently recorded an interview for the ABC on another program just prior to the 7:30 segment, but they had no intentions of including Sommers’ commentary or views in the segment.
The ACMA states that counter views were provided on ABC Radio National, and that the ABC has also covered the topic via their online publications. They conclude the report by stating…
“The ACMA is satisfied that the ABC has presented a diversity of perspectives on the issue, which it acknowledges is a controversial issue, so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community has been knowingly excluded or disproportionally represented.”
The ABC failed to mention the Game Journo Pros that was a big story that Breitbart broke back in September. They opted not to include the alleged blacklisting carried out at the hands of the group or their monopolization of media narratives within the gaming news sector, nor did they cover the corruption involving 40,000 people who were hacked and an Australian games journalist working with EA to cover-up the story so he wouldn’t risk his relationship with one of their employees. If any of those people happened to be an investor, that could have been a blatant SEC violation.
Nevertheless, this episode has taught us that the truth, facts and presenting the whole story is not on the media’s agenda.
Some of those who filed complaints with the ACMA plan to do a follow-up. You can learn more by visiting the official ACMA’s website.