News reporting may have crossed the line into opinion-writing Thursday, when PCGamesN’s Hannah Dwan attacked esports veterans Richard Lewis and Duncan “Thorin” Shields in an article titled “The esports industry has a problem with who it is choosing to represent it.”
Dwan and PCGamesN’s editorial staff did not label it as opinion.
A few excerpts from the story can be found below:
The story caused an uproar. Lewis shot back on Twitter, writing that PCGamesN never reached out for comment.
Support poured forth from industry heavyweights including OpTic Gaming owner Hector Rodriguez, Overwatch League analyst Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, Riot caster Indiana “Froskurinn” Black, and many more.
Dwan’s piece was criticized as “one-sided” and “ill-informed.”
Journalist Kat, who defended Lewis on Twitter, told TheDW it was a “hit piece.”
“I think that the article in question is an authoritarian hit piece which is trying to enforce the opinion of the publication on an independent organisation,” she said. “Since they released is [sic] as a regular article I believe that it will be a bit too late for them to brand it as an opinion piece.”
Esports News UK editor Dominic Sacco, who also tweeted his support for Lewis, described it to TheDW as “unprofessional and lazy.”
“I now expect PCGamesN to make some kind of comment on the reaction to their piece, or at least allow the likes of Richard Lewis a right of reply,” he wrote. “If they choose to ignore the community response that’s extremely unprofessional and lazy of them. I was an affiliate of PCGamesN but have cancelled that immediately following their article. I want nothing to do with a site that labels respected esports journalists racist and homophobic with selective quotes taken out of context, while ignoring the copious amounts of good work they do for the scene. I also think it’s telling that for an article labeling Richard and Duncan misogynist, there’s been several women defending them on Twitter following the publication of the piece. And that’s bearing in mind there is a lack of women in esports. I’m all for promoting and celebrating diversity – for me the PCGamesN article goes about this the completely wrong way.”
Commentator Tomi “Lurppis” Kovanen said he was “very” disappointed with PCGamesN and Dwan.
“It’s very disappointing to see someone with a sensationalist agenda come out and attack two individuals like that. I reckon she came up with the idea from all the news about old sexual harassment etc. cases that have recently surfaced in the media and forced people to resign. I’d frankly rather not give the author or the website she wrote for any more publicity, so probably best if they just pretend like the article never was posted in the first place.”
Lewis and Shields did not reply to a request for comment. In a podcast posted Friday, the pair addressed the article.
“These f**king new people,” Lewis said, “right? That have come into esports, and yet, they’ve been here one year, two years. People like me and you [Shields] were in the f**king trenches in like 2002, 2003, 2004, laying the bedrock … Who are you to f**king say anything about anyone? … I slept on f**king couches to tell people how great esports is and help players out and build this fucking scene and what, I don’t get a job now because you don’t like a f**king tweet?”
“People don’t just say, ‘You shouldn’t have won,’ which is their opinion. They’re just like, ‘You’re not even a journalist,'” Shields agreed. “And in fact, because of tweets. Best one is because of retweets. Because of retweets you should actually not be allowed to work.”
The outcry is not new: For centuries, political journalism has been attacked rightly and wrongly by both politicians and the press itself for blending news and opinion.
The opinion label traditionally gives leeway to what’s written., allowing pundits to express viewpoints and make arguments in a formal manner and protecting the factual walls of news from the ambiguity of feelings and personal experience.
The Society of Professional Journalists includes this in its code of ethics: “Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough.”
“Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing,” the code continues. “Label advocacy and commentary.”
The author, the news editor and the editor-in-chief all declined multiple requests for comment from The Daily Walkthrough.