The GJP, also known as the Game Journo Pros, was a secret e-mail list started by Ars Technica’s gaming editor Kyle Orland. A number of high-profile editors, managers and site owners were on the list, using it for a number of a different things: from organizing meet-ups, to reviewing games, to chatting about ethics in video game journalism. One other thing the list was used for was collusion.
During #GamerGate the list was used to discuss what was happening, including putting together gift for Zoe Quinn, one of the individuals involved with Kotaku writer Nathan Grayson, who was involved in a conflict of interest for having financial and romantic ties to Quinn while writing about her projects… without disclosure. Some of the editors opted out of participating in the gift to Quinn, such as Game Informer editor Michael Futter.
However, Quinn wasn’t the only one they tried helping. They also decided to offer jobs, good-will letters and gestures of camaraderie toward another writer who supposedly “quit” writing about video games during the blow-up of #GamerGate… Jenn Frank.
The e-mail chain from September 3rd, 2014 has various editors and writers within the media industry opting to help Frank, such as Kyle Orland from Ars Technica, Chris Dahlen who was formerly editor-in-chief at Kill Screen, Ben Kuchera from Polygon, and Ben Gilbert who was formerly at Engadget but now at Business Insider. The goodwill gesture followed thereafter the conversations about helping Quinn as well as not engaging with the #GamerGate hashtag or #GameEthics hashtag to avoid giving “legitimacy to the same crackpot stuff’”. Orland also stated in a GJP thread back on August 19th, 2014 that he nor Ars Technica would give the “ethics in journalism” discussion the time of day.
Michael Futter seemed to be the only one from the major gaming and media outlets to completely opt out of each scenario involving circumstances that could potentially turn into the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Now to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with people getting together willing to do a good and kind thing for a friend. The problem comes in with the fact that this list was used to do kind things for friends and associates, but unkind things to those who were not friends or associates.
For instance, the Game Journos Pros list was involved with several blacklisting attempts, including those of industry professionals and fellow journalists who fell out of favor with those on the list. The multiple cases of blacklisting was just from one year of being on the list. That’s not including the multiple years prior in which the list was active. There was also cronyism, groupthink, and ethical negligence exercised through the usage of the list.
Media outlets like the BBC, the Blaze, MSNBC, CNN, and various gaming outlets (not involved with the Game Journo Pros) were all notified about the secret mailing list, but journalists opted not to investigate or cover the story. A similar case happened with the original JournoList, which was a left-wing liberal mailing list operated in secret where various journalists used the list to coordinate and sometimes collude to shape the news and the narrative surrounding the news.
Interestingly enough, JournoList 2.0 was discovered shortly before #GamerGate got underway and a month before the Game Journo Pros list was exposed by Milo Yiannopoulos from Breitbart in mid-September of 2014. There’s a report on JournoList 2.0 by RedState covering who was on the list and what it was used for. Unsurprisingly enough, many journalists who have stood against #GamerGate have stated that all the claims of corruption, collusion and secrecy were just conspiracy theories, but many of the e-mails leaked from the GJP prove otherwise.
Ironically enough Huffington Post’s Richard Mitchell joked that the Game Journo Pros was a left-wing conspiracy when Kyle Orland made a post in the GJP reminding everyone to keep the contents of the list private and out of the public’s purview.
I suppose it’s only a conspiracy when the facts aren’t made public.
[Disclosure: I used to be a member of the Game Journo Pros]