Managing Editor Andrea Shubert shares a personal story about games industry journalism, and asks for your financial support of re/Action.
The last two months have been a fun ride towards our launch. We called it a “beta test.” Now we are launching… today we launched our IndieGoGo campaign to fund re/Action. This month’s theme is Belief, and this campaign is about my belief of the future of journalism.
The fundamentals of journalism are broken.
I was a journalism major at the University of Southern California in 1993. Around that time I was also running an email newsletter called “Game Master Journal,” which eventually turned into a website and America Online / Prodigy / LA Times destination called “Intelligent Gamer Online.” Our service was funded mostly by our readers, through the hourly fees generated on those pay services. The website was an additional project, funded by the advertisements we carried from game retailers and game import houses and other similar ancillary companies. We did not accept advertisements from the main players in the industry we covered. At first, this was because of our size — we were not that big. But once we started getting big those phone calls happened, and I turned them aside.
A couple of years later we were acquired by Sendai New Media (of “Electronic Gaming Monthly” fame), who in turn were acquired by Ziff/Davis. We had a print magazine with national distribution, at the low low cost of our editorial soul. We scaled up big, got bigger budgets and staffs, and became a “real publication” and all of that required much more money. Which meant, of course, a shift in our business strategy. Which meant, of course, a shift in our editorial coverage. We learned quickly what happened when you spoke ill of an advertiser’s product. We lost our way, and within two years, we lost our magazine.
There is much more to the Intelligent Gamer story than that, of course, but that part of the story echoes across the journalism landscape. Newspapers are shrinking their newsrooms. Cable news is mostly infotainment; how is that murder trial in Florida doing? And the games industry, which once supported over a half-dozen print publications in the US, is now down to nearly zero of them. The websites that remain run the gamut from problematic to outstanding, but their editorial voices are very similar to each other: Coverage of Shooty American Guy 3, fueled by Mountain Dew and Doritos. I believe there is another way.
The name of this site is not just a statement about the industry and culture we cover; this website is a reaction to the state of the coverage itself.
There are important, interesting, compelling stories waiting to be found and to be told, and these stories are not the sorts of things that will find support through advertisement. By severing the cord between our editorial voice and our financial support, we know — and you know — that our words are true and our best interests are always with the reader.
Which brings me to you, the reader, and our request for help. We have launched our campaign to fund re/Action for the rest of the year. This will cost $41,000. We break down the details of those costs on the campaign’s page. We aren’t doing this full-time, but we are committed to making this project the very best we can. We don’t want to pay our writers a few cents per word; we want to pay a real wage. Instead of me-too journalism, where we are just another site covering the same things as everyone else, we will support us-also journalism. All of us belong in the conversation. All of us belong in the industry and in the culture. All of us belong.
I believe that this model can work. I believe that this model of reader-supported journalism, opinion, and commentary is the way forward. I believe that we can make this happen. We have one month to find out.
Our campaign is on IndieGoGo but it is in the kickstarter-style. Either we are fully-funded and launch, or we don’t make enough, no one pays anything, and the project ends on August 1st. I would greatly appreciate your support.