Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ManaNation and Twitter Coverage

Continuing the discussion over on ManaNation and over Twitter, let's talk about information.

I would read first the article I just linked to - regarding the use of Twitter as a way of doing coverage reports. Trick feels like it is in his best interest, as someone who does coverage for a living, to restrict his usage of Twitter as a way of spreading information. He overstepped bounds when he tweeted deck-information during Pro Tour San Juan. A Wizards employee warned him that that kind of Tweet was inappropriate. Trick further argued that if players and WotC found out about his "reckless" tweets, they would no longer let him do coverage if they felt he was disturbing the tournament scene.

I'm vaguely aware that Bill Stark also feels journalists shouldn't "create their own news." If I'm wrong about that, then I apologize to Bill Stark. He has not yet entered the discussion at hand.

But I think if you consider yourself a professional journalist, as I'm sure Trick and Bill both do, then information is your trade. It is your commodity, and you should handle it with care - because information is tricky business. If Trick feels that he will get cut off from access, cut off from being able to do his job, then it is totally up to him how he wants to proceed with his Twittering.

If you're a random spectator, birding games, sure you have the same access to Twitter as Trick. You can say what you like about what you see, but organizations like SCG, ManaNation, and TheStarkingtonPost:
A) Have hundreds more followers, maybe thousands more than some random guy
B) They are looked to as an official source for news
C) Spreading false information would be selling bad product AND make you lose credibility
D) Spreading information that primary sources (Pro Players, WotC) don't want you to give away would take away your potential sources of access

What does RandomGuy have on the line? Nothing! He also isn't making money off his random Twitter nonsense. People don't even have to believe him or take him seriously - he's just a RandomGuy. He has no credibility. He has no verification. He could be lying. There's no incentive for him to spread accurate information!

Quick note about GGSlive: The only time I ever believe the things that GGSlive coverage reporters say is when the primary source is sitting right next to them. Or when the cards are on the screen because it's a feature match.

GGSlive has limited resouces to scout, and when they do, sometimes the information that comes back is straight-up wrong. Didn't they say Kibler was running cards he clearly wasn't running at a recent event? GGSlive has a different job, and that is to provide video coverage. They are not a source of accurate, up-to-date information. They do interviews, and they show feature matches. Any further scouting done by them is not really required or expected of them.

GGSlive can't help giving wrong information sometimes, but as viewers, we have to take into account the possibility that they're giving wrong information. And sometimes they may give out information players don't want them to give out, but it is very hard to find out until after the fact, when the videos are uploaded onto YouTube. Thus far no one has really complained. I think it's because anyone watching the coverage is reduced to "RandomGuy" once he tries to repeat what he saw.

Essentially, the argument revolves around WHO'S doing the tweeting and who's giving away the info. The professionals have a job to do, and that's why they're careful. They can't cater to the public's wishes if it risks their job or ability to do their job.

Then there is a middle tier, the bloggers, (like me), who don't do this as a job. My access is very limited, and I am not a coverage reporter. No one looks to me for up-to-date coverage. If I went to a tournament and saw something, tweeted it, that would be my choice. But as it stands, even I, as a nobody, would not want to risk that because I am still in a position where I want as much informational access as possible, for my limited resources. My goal is to gain trust from the resources I have in hopes of gaining more access, more information. Whatever I stand to gain from tweeting info is less than what I stand to lose.

Then there are random people. And they don't have anything more than a phone and their own eyes and ears. Their information could be nonsense, it could be true, it could be relevant, it could be irrelevant. Some of them might even get "interviews" with pro players, but how do we know that they didn't just tweet some off-hand comment made by a Pro with no knowledge that they were being interviewed?

In the age of the internet, do you believe everything you read?

Who do you believe? ManaNation or RandomGuy? Who do you want to provide the information - the people who's jobs are on the line or a random person with unknown motives? Do you want ManaNation to gain the trust of its primary sources so it can have greater (or at least continued) access to useful information?

I think we can agree the answer is at the very least... "Probably."

Comment below, Tweet me (@mulldrifting), or post in the forums.