John Keefer has a nice piece up on Crispy Gamer regarding the issue of embargoes — are they really necessary, or do they simply encourage lazy journalism and sometimes inappropriate relationships with publishers? The issue at stake here isn't so much embargoes, which are a symptom of the problem, as much as journalistic integrity (or lack thereof) and moving from an 'enthusiast press' to 'real journalism':
For games journalism to gain more credibility, journalists need to play by their own rules. Do more informative pieces, do humorous pieces or biting satire, do more critical pieces, seriously explore avenues other than PR representatives for information. Journalism isn't about always making nice with everyone. Journalism is about providing accurate information to the reader even when it isn't readily available, unless there is an overriding public concern. In many cases, infringements on the free exchange of information about games between journalists and our readers are not backed by any legitimate overriding concern.
Granted, not all publishers impose limitations. Many understand that the journalist has a job to do and that, in the end, what is written is just an opinion, and as long as that opinion is based on facts and not erroneous information, the writer and publication are free of scrutiny. However, there needs to be a divergence from the cozy two-step that some marketing departments do insist on dancing with the press by threatening to pull ads or blacklist a writer or publication if a story paints an unfavorable picture. If any "journalists" willingly do dance to that tune, they need to look in the mirror and examine who they are really working for and why.
All in all, a thoughtful piece, though the musing on embargoes is more compelling than railing against the 'enthusiast press.' Is there any point besides financial gain for one or two parties?