The Press Junket

Las VegasThe view from the 39th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Vegas

I’m currently sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room to see a game I can’t talk about yet. You’ll hear my thoughts when the embargo lifts later this week. It’s a bizarre trip, my least favorite kind: the publisher-paid press junket. It’s a little talked about but otherwise staple element of the enthusiast press.

No, I don’t know why we’re in Las Vegas, considering most of our time with the game will take place in otherwise standard hotel rooms. But anyway.

I do not like being a journalist on a publisher dime. It makes me uncomfortable. Typically, this kind of event involves publishers flying writers to some location, usually close to a developer or publisher, to play “X” game, conduct interviews about “X” game, participate in some crazy promotional activity loosely related to the game (i.e. fire guns), etc. Some are flown out by their own company, but sometimes, the publisher is footing the bill. That’s me this week. I’m here on behalf of a well-known publication, but the publisher covered travel expenses.

MTV had strict rules against this, with very few exceptions. Some publications alleviate their conscience by allowing writers to fly courtesy of a publisher only if they’re freelance and not in-house. I’ve never quite understood that one, but the reason is usually what you’d expect: “It’s better than nothing.” The pressure to attend because other outlets will be there is too much. It’s not much different than the BioShock 2 situation from last week, actually.

I’m confident my work out of here will be genuine, but I felt a desire to express my concerns. If nothing else, this obligates me to do better work.

Please hold me to it.

[There’s some good discussion happening in the comments section about the BioShock 2 incident last week around the blogosphere. Check it out.]

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2 Comments

Filed under journalism, Rambling Man

2 responses to “The Press Junket

  1. As a freelance writer, did you ever have to pay for your own way to an event (eg. GDC, E3, etc…)? If so, does it become a problem, or if not, how did you do it?

  2. pk

    Up until a few years ago, yeah, I always paid my own way to E3. I couldn’t afford GDC and the like, though. E3 was the “big” event each year, the one you could count on everyone who was anyone attending, so that’s the one where I pooled my resources.

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