Angry Birds: Entertainers versus Journalists

Angry Birds: Entertainers versus Journalists

Written by on December 17, 2010 in [, , , , , , ]


As of late there’s been a lot of talk on various forms of social media over who is a gaming journalist, or what qualifies a person as a gaming journalist.  I will propose that many professionals that may call themselves journalists are often a different beast of the gaming press.

Recently BitMob did an interview with Gerard Williams, better known as Hip Hop Gamer.  Much of the interview focused on his sometimes controversial persona and his assertion that he is a gaming journalist.  While Mr. Williams’ wild and brash antics have ruffled the feathers of some gaming “journalists”, he has attracted a vocal following of enthusiasts as well.  He often travels to events with a WWE wrestling belt and is known to bust out some rhymes in his entertaining videos available on his website, Hip Hop Gamer Show.  He is also able to get access to many important professionals in the gaming industry.

Also calling herself a gaming journalist is Olivia Munn.  She has recently reignited the ire of gamers and gaming journalists with her recent appearance on this year’s Video Game Awards on cable channel SpikeTV.  Dan Ryckert of Game Informer recently wrote a piece and embedded a video of Ms. Munn’s appearance on the awards show.  Olivia Munn has had a rather dubious history of pissing off a segment of the gaming population by embracing her sexuality as a marketing tool in various stunts such as licking various console controllers or dressing up as the superhero Wonder Woman and eating an enormous amount of hot dogs.

So what IS a gaming journalist?  Do Olivia Munn and Hip Hop Gamer share the same profession as known game journalists such as Dan “Shoe” Hsu, Andy McNamara, Jeff Gerstmann, and others?  I would suggest that both Hip Hop Gamer and Olivia Munn are not journalists but rather fill the roll of entertainment press.

I should point out that there’s nothing inherently wrong with being an entertainer, but there is a difference between the two professions.The role of an entertainer is to amuse or perform for an audience of some type.  The journalist is there to disseminate or process information that the masses can digest and be informed.  This is not to say that an entertainer can’t inform their audience.  Jon Stewart continues to entertain and give his viewers insightful commentary but at the end of the day I take anything presented to me with a grain of salt knowing that he is not interested in being a journalist.  Another example is Conan O’Brien and his talk show now on TBS.  If he should have an interview with the members of Pearl Jam, it would be highly entertaining. I  may even learn something I did not otherwise know, but it is a quite different experience than I would get reading a book by Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Fricke on Pearl Jam (which I would SO read).

I still think of people like Munn and Williams can be regarded as games press, which I think many gaming enthusiast sites, including The Married Gamers, represent.  However I feel that a journalist has a different code of ethics and standards that they must hold themselves to including being impartial and fair.  At the end of the day I enforce an air of journalism in what The Married Gamers publish, but I readily admit that I have certain game peccadilloes for zombies and music video games.  I do think that Hip Hop Gamer is quite a good entertainer, and having met him a few times at events I can honestly say he is a very good interviewer, but his enthusiasm for certain games and his bigger than life persona shows that he falls short of the standards and ethics journalism calls for.  However his success isn’t that he’s a journalist, it’s in that he is an incredible entertainer to many and is able to gain an astounding audience for his views and performances.

Likewise Olivia Munn’s role at G4tv and other places always been more about entertainment than that of  journalism.  She is able to gain and keep viewers attention, whether because of her good looks, her on-camera hijinks, and the spotlight afforded to her.  I don’t think less of her because she isn’t a journalist, but honestly I just don’t find her amusing personally.  However I do think she has proven that she certainly deserving of her place in the gaming entertainment press.

As I’ve said I don’t chagrin an entertainer or a journalist.  Both have roles that require hard work, dedication, and talent.  The entertainer and the journalist simply have different purposes, and the roles are a little like comparing an apple to an orange.  However the lines between the two can be a little blurred because they often share the same media platform (whether it’s television, youtube, or print), so it’s up to their audience to be discerning.  My temperature does elevate a bit when these birds of different feathers try to insist that they are really the other because  it can confuse their audience as to their true purpose and may even chip away at their authenticity.  I’d much rather have these folks adhere to Polonius’s advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet: “To thine self be true.”

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Author: Chris Brown View all posts by

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