Little bit of Sunday geek philosophy for you.
One of the most basic tenets of journalism used to be that you don't write a story without the "five Ws": who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why. Who did it? What did they do? When did they do it? Where? How did it happen? Why did it happen?
That last question speaks to motivation and is often the toughest question to answer, and usually takes the longest. As a result, modern news organizations have gotten into the habit of going to press with as many of the questions answered as they can. These days, Woodward and Bernstein are afraid of losing their access, and CNN doesn't want to lose the "breaking story" to MSNBC or Fox News, so journalists "go to press" as soon as they can string some kind of coherent narrative together. This particularly applies to things like terrorist attacks. When something awful like this happens, you will know where, when, and to whom it happened, but only usually will you know what happened, often you won't know how, and almost never during those initial few hours will you know why. Those things come a lot later. But in today's 24-hour news cycle, the five Ws have diminished in importance in the view of many journalists.
The slow degrade of respect the public has for the profession can probably be traced in part to this process. There's just no time to get the full story if you want eyeballs in front of screens. You go with what you have.
Sometimes the choices are even harder. Sometimes you find out why a terrorist attack happens, and it's from the terrorist himself. Do you go to press with that information? Do you turn your entire media empire into a mouthpiece for the thoughts of someone motivated by hatred or revenge, even for a moment? It's a tough call. Journalism schools debate it.
It comes down to motivation: if someone has good information that answers a "W" but also clearly has an axe to grind, how much play do you give them? Not all such motivations are negative, of course. I'm sure we've all heard or read stories about someone committing a crime, only to have a family member come forward to defend that person or try to provide explanations, or information. Or a government official comes forward and tries to bring clarity. But often, the motivation is highly negative... revenge or contempt being quite high on the list. Again, how much play do you give that? It's another thing journalism schools debate.
Now suppose a journalist screws up. Is that in itself a story? If so, who covers it? The journalist's employer? Another media outlet? How do you cover it? There's a great scene in Tomorrow Never Dies with one cable outlet gloating at the misfortunes of another. You don't want to do that! But if a journalist leaves one media outlet and joins another, for cause... and wants to talk about his or her former employers. Do you cover that? I mean, it's news, right?
Yeah, let's tie this stuff to EVE Online.
For those not keeping track, there's a little slap-fight going down this weekend between EVE News 24 and themittani.com. The genesis of the slap-fight was this article published on EN24, on May 13 (remember that date). Make no mistake: the article itself is kind of a mess. But it includes Jabber logs that seem to show CFC members -- including CSM8 member mynnna -- gained access to data on the EVE Online Chaos test server data on changes that were upcoming in Odyssey before those changes were announced. Further, the logs included indicate that the CFC used that information for massive financial gain, buying materials like isotopes that Odyssey is going to make more rare.
Assuming the logs are legitimate, "what" and "where" is covered, and "who" is somewhat covered. The files are dated in the three days before Fanfest -- before mynnna was even on the CSM -- so "when" is somewhat covered. "How" and "why"? Well, the source of the data is a muddled mess. And the motivation for the original article goes back to Cerebral Wolf, who rather famously got himself blapped from Goonswarm for apparently trying to influence DUST 514's CPM through intimidation and blackmail. Whoops! And now he was providing Jabber logs about CFC activities related to EVE's Chaos server and Odyssey. Oh dear Heaven... that source doesn't have credibility problems at all, does it? It certainly raises a question about motivation.
Now let's be clear here: I don't have a dog in this fight, and anyone who thinks I do is wrong. EN24 has agreements in place with six or eight bloggers, of which I am one. From time to time, EN24 syndicates our stuff Huffington Post-style, and we get ISK for it. I don't write for EN24, I don't do news for EN24, and I don't have access to any EN24 systems. That's about the extent of my involvement here. But I've talked with EN24 editor riverini on any number of occasions. And his long-held bias against anything CFC is probably one of the worst-kept secrets in New Eden. And here was Cerebral Wolf feeding it.
So riverini -- probably eagerly -- asked Incindir Mauser to look through the Jabber logs, see if there was anything interesting in them. And apparently there was. And Mauser wrote up most of that disjointed little article about it. And then at that point, the story splits. Remember the old saying about how there's three sides to every story? This is where the slap-fight starts. What actually happened? Here's Mauser's version. Here's riverini's version.
Yep, two whole featured news stories about who did what to whose EVE news website or news articles. And the funny and sad thing is that this whole story is built on questionable motivations. And the ironic thing is that everything that happened came down to a lack of communication.
Mauser says that riverini fished his article out of the trash. How did it get into the trash? As far as I can tell, Mauser used his access to the EN24 tools to publish the article, on May 11, on EVE News 24! But then, because of cold feet or second thoughts or just a mis-click, then he deleted the article, then he apparently decided to talk to the Goons to validate the Jabber logs. We have pretty good evidence of this because someone commented on the piece before Mauser could delete it. It's still causing a glitch, right now, in the EN24 comments system: trying to read comments via the sidebar on the May 13 piece are getting redirected to the published, then deleted May 11 piece, where they obviously don't exist.
Mauser did the correct thing, and went back to Goons to get the Jabber logs validated. Only first, he published his article. Then he deleted his article. Then he didn't send an e-mail to riverini saying "Hey riv, I've deleted the Chaos test server article because I want to fact-check some things. I'll get back to you Monday." But Mauser doesn't mention any of this in his slap-fight article because that clouds his motivations... the all-important why question. If Mauser isn't the victim, that makes his "riverini wanted to promulgate his twisted, weird, little agenda" story a little bit... unwieldy.
riverini logs into EN24 whenever it is he does. The comment on the non-existent May 11 piece is causing glitches in the comment sidebar. He traces the comment to Mauser's deleted article, un-deletes it, edits it, republishes it. Why? riverini's motivations are also cloudy. Maybe he thought Mauser made a mistake with a publishing system he was unfamiliar with. Or maybe riverini just couldn't let a good article sliming the Goons go. He says flat-out he wanted it published on Monday, a high traffic day... again, motivation. Here's what riverini also didn't do: he didn't send an e-mail to Mauser saying "Hey Mauser, your deleted article is causing problems. Did you mean to delete it? What's going on?" riverini has added an addendum to his piece making that clear.
So the motivations of all three people involved here are cloudy to say the least. The lack of communications is manifest. It isn't the first time that EN24 has jumped into the fray supporting someone with questionable motives. And TMC has also jumped into the slap-fight with both feet, hiring Mauser to be a staff writer despite his first piece being full of anti-EN24 venom. It'll be interesting to see what Mauser produces for TMC.
In the meantime, all of the spilled ink has clouded the issue of the Jabber logs themselves. Remember them? They're legitimate. Neither side has disputed that.
Only they mean nothing. It's the sort of thing that EVE players at all levels have done for years to gain advantage in-game. From time to time, you've read stuff from me right here pointing to scrapes off the Chaos server. You'll be reading another here before too long about capital rigs. In the original piece, riverini points out quite correctly that for years, CCP has taken a necessarily blind eye to this sort of thing because they honestly have no other choice. Even if mynnna did benefit from this, certainly he isn't going to be in a position to benefit from this sort of data for a while. Not with CCP watching his every transaction like a hawk now that he's on CSM8. ;-)
So the whole thing is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing, IMO. But interesting from a philosophical point of view, don't you think? Discuss.