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Charles Herold

Microsoft "Leaker" Comes Clean, Castigates Press

By January 24, 2013

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While this is a little outside of my Nintendo beat, I wanted to mention the recent story of some guy who made up a bunch of specs for the next Xbox and emailed those specs to game sites with a claim that he was a Microsoft employee. These specs were reported by many of the major game magazines without verifying the reliability of the information, and in some cases without tagging it as rumor.

This guy's purpose was to prove the poor journalism of the gaming press. "The games industry is the only one I can think of that will quite happily publish guesswork as news." To me this suggests that he isn't really too familiar with non-gaming sites; one can find many specious rumors involving both the movie/TV industry and politics, and while gaming rumors are generally just speculation on hardware or software, those other industries often offer baseless rumors that attack the reputations of their subjects.

I have published many rumors myself, and find his statement that "By tagging a post with 'rumour', most writers/editors believe they can get away with spreading false information for their own benefits" a bit harsh. The truth is, I think rumors are kind of fun. I enjoy seeing the latest rumors and pondering over their truth.

Yes, rumors generate a lot of traffic, because a lot of people, just like me, find them fun to read. And if I don't publish those rumors, readers will simply go to sites that do. A gaming site that doesn't publish a rumor published by every other gaming site is not going to stop the flow of bad information; it is going to be considered out of touch.

So I will continue to report rumors. I will always tag them as rumors, and I will always try and find the original source of the rumor (as opposed to sites that simply report on a report based on a report based on another report, which is the height of laziness), and I will always offer an opinion on how likely the rumor sounds to me.

But I won't ignore rumors, because sometimes they're the most fun thing in the news.


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