April 11, 2006
Podcast Ethics

I've been a reader of PC Gamer magazine for years, ever since the death of my beloved PC Accelerator magazine. Recently, they started a podcast about PC game news and discussion and I've been listening.

Several shows ago, the initial host of the show Dan Morris left and was abruptly replaced by Greg 'theVede' Vederman to lead the discussion. I wondered what had happened, but didn't think much more about it. After three or four shows, the issue was finally addressed.

What happened was the Dan became Associate Publisher of PC Gamer, formally moving to the business side of the magazine. In the world of journalism, the wall between the busness side and the editorial side is significant. There is a real concern about the influence of ad sales money and business relationships with the journalists to not taint the news with concern over the business impact.

Taking over the podcast reins was Greg Vederman, new Editor-in-Chief of PC Gamer, who felt that ethically it would be wrong to have Dan on the podcast, on the journalism side, now that he worked on the business side. So in the most recent podcast, they openly discuss the issue. Talking about both sides and weighing the impact. Even if you aren't a gamer, give it a listen, it's the first thing they talk about, so you don't have to sit through the gaming chat. Although if you are a PC gamer, listen to the whole thing.

I called my father-in-law Tony, an editor at a major midwestern newspaper, to get his take. He felt that the 'firewall' between the business side and the journalism side had eroded over the last several decades. He said that as the internet and new technologies enable things like weblogs and podcasts, the guidelines are unclear on how to deal with them. He mentioned that as newspapers embrace weblogs and citzen journalism, it's not easy. He said it's demonstrated in the recent controversy over a "Grandma In Iraq" weblog that the paper was running.

Back at PC Gamer, they have take an interesting approach on how to resolve the issue of whether Dan Morris will contribute to the podcast or not. They are leaving it up to the readers and listeners. On the front page of the PC Gamer Podcast site is a poll to let Dan's fate be decided.

I've read a number of discussions about these kind of ethics regarding weblogs, but not much in the realm of podcasts. With many podcasts vying for the almighty dollar of advertising these days there are bound to be issues raised since podcast advertising is not as firewalled as placing Google or Yahoo ads on a web page. With podcast advertising, there is a direct relationship between the performer/jounalist and the buyer of advertising. Who knows what the future holds in this area, controversy is for sure...

Posted by michael at April 11, 2006 05:53 AM


You know, as a rather new podcaster - this is a pretty interesting topic. I have to consider this more before I come up with an opinion, and I'll definitely listen to the podcast.

Posted by: Christine [http://www.bigpinkcookie.com] on April 16, 2006 5:49 PM
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