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Learn about journalistic scandals and improprieties, and form your own opinion on which journalists and outlets deserve your trust.

DeepFreeze currently covers videogame journalism — mainstream media coming soon.

26 Mar 2017

Cronyism
Wrote about fellow journalists Dan Golding and Brendan Keogh, without disclosing an apparently rather friendly personal relationship with both of them, involving multiple meetings. Lien appears to have deleted her Twitter interactions with Golding and Keogh.

Apparent Cronyism

21 Aug 2013

Cronyism
Wrote about Mattie Brice, without disclosing an apparently reasonably close personal relationship, involving mention of at least three meetings preceeding the article’s publication. Lien appears to have deleted her Twitter interactions with Brice.

Apparent Cronyism

20 Aug 2013

Cronyism
Wrote several articles about the game Elysian Shadows, originally disclosing a friendly relationship with the game’s developers only in one of them. Disclosure was promptly added to all of the articles missing it as soon as Orselli was notified.

Resolved Cronyism

20 Jan 2016

Corruption
Wrote about Aevee Bee, without disclosing that he was supporting her on Patreon—a support that might be ongoing since 2014, and is against the policies of Kotaku, where the article appeared.

Apparent Corruption

09 Mar 2017

Daniel Starkey

1

Trivia
Apparent GG Autoblocker user.

Trivia

Not dated

Dan Golding

1

Trivia
Apparent GG Autoblocker user.

Trivia

Not dated

Merritt Kopas

1

Trivia
Apparent GG Autoblocker user.

Trivia

Not dated

Lana Polansky

1

Trivia
Apparent GG Autoblocker user.

Trivia

Not dated

28 Feb 2017

Cronyism
Has written about Harmonix while the company was employing his former editor at Destructoid, Nick Chester, without disclosing this relationship. Responded privately to DeepFreeze’s staff, saying that while he considers these articles lapses in judgement, he is no longer working at the involved outlets and in no position to add disclosures—disclosures which, either way, he doesn’t feel would benefit readers so long after publication. Destructoid added a disclosure when informed.

Apparent Cronyism

01 Sep 2014

Cronyism
Wrote an article about music label Scarlet Moon Records where he mentions Dale North, former Editor-In-Chief of Destructoid, without disclosing they had worked together at Destructoid for overlapping periods of time. While this article properly mentions that Scarlet Moon was founded by a former colleague of his, Ponce neglected to disclose it in a previous article about the label. Responded privately to DeepFreeze’s staff, saying that while he considers these articles lapses in judgement, he is no longer working at the involved outlets and in no position to add disclosures—disclosures which, either way, he doesn’t feel would benefit readers so long after publication.

Possible Cronyism

01 Jul 2014

Holly Green

1

Trivia
On the receiving end of coverage involving apparent conflicts of interest. Once from a then-employee, Ryan Parreno, and at least twice from admitted friend Mike Futter.

Trivia

Not dated

Holly Green

1

Trivia
After Green had a dispute with the owner of Destructoid Yanier “Niero” Gonzalez, all of her work at Destructoid was unilaterally earsed from the site by Gonzalez.

Trivia

Not dated

Corruption
Wrote about Jim Sterling without disclosing either their professional ties—she and Sterling were employed by Destructoid for overlapping periods of time—as well as an apparently reasonably close personal relationship. Sterling had also backed Holly Green’s Kickstarter project, and informed her of having backed it before the article.

Apparent Corruption

13 Mar 2016

Ryan Parreno

1

Cronyism
Wrote about Holly Green for Gaming Enthusiast, without disclosing that Green, at the time, was his Managing Editor at Gameranx—where he would continue to work for over a year, until April 2016, with Green remaining his superior at least until March 2016. Gaming Enthusiast promptly added a disclosure when informed.

Amended Cronyism

11 Jan 2015

29 Jan 2017

Merritt Kopas

1

Trivia
Has been on the receiving end of apparent conflicts of interest multiple times. Journalists who covered Kopas while seemingly being on friendly terms include Leigh Alexander, at least three times and Patricia Hernandez, also at least three times (and later a fourth which included a disclosure), whereas Austin Walker has covered Kopas while financially supporting her on Patreon.

Trivia

Not dated

Cronyism
Co-authored an article about Christine Love, without disclosing a rather evident personal relationship with Love. Some comments Kopas published shortly after this was publicized seem to be a response—claiming the apparent conflict of interesting is a form of “networking” and people bringing it up are “conspiracy theorists”.

Apparent Cronyism

24 Jan 2017

Nathan Grayson

17

Cronyism
Wrote two times about Christine Love for Kotaku, partially disclosing a rather apparent personal relationship only in the first. Grayson also wrote a third previous article mentioning Love, but it was published before any public interactions between the two.

Possible Cronyism

05 Jan 2017

Cronyism
Wrote an article promoting a visual novel by Christine Love, without disclosing an apparently fairly developed friendly relationship—including frequent social media interactions, at least a meetup, and possibly more soon after the article.

Apparent Cronyism

08 Jan 2013

Cronyism
Wrote about Christine Love without disclosing a soon-after admitted and apparently already well-developed personal relationship.

Apparent Cronyism

19 Sep 2013

19 Dec 2016

Cronyism
IGN’s co-founder Matt Casamassina wrote numerous times about Nintendo before leaving game journalism—with a few articles still visible as of 2016, and with such frequency that his site still lists his primary game journalist career as a Nintendo writer. His writing never disclosed (archive) his marriage to the vice-president of Nintendo PR firm Golin Harris. Casamassina replied to the accusations when they were made public back in 2007, stating that he and his wife respected their respective NDAs, their relationship never influenced his coverage and she was never one of his sources.

Apparent Cronyism

18 Aug 2007

Sensationalism
Published a scathing review of a well-received football manager game because the reviewer, apparently unaware of the existence of the football manager genre, compared it with action games, with such as the fact that “apart from managing your roster and coaching your team” the game offered no gameplay. IGN promptly removed the review, replacing it with an apology.

Amended Sensationalism

02 Dec 2008

Dishonesty
In what would come to be known as the Driv3rGate scandal, appears to have accepted a deal with Atari to publish extremely positive reviews of their videogame Driv3r in exchange for an exclusive. The game turned out to be buggy and unplayable, with a large portion of its lackluster sales coming before the extremely-negative reviews from other outlets followed, and Future mass-censored its online forums to hide its readers’ discontent.

Apparent Dishonesty

15 Apr 2004

Sensationalism
Their extremely negative review of MMORPG Darkfall Online was hit by heavy controversy when the game’s developer publicly called out the review, stating that the game’s logs showed the reviewer had only spent 2 hours playing the game. While confirming the veridicity of the logs, Eurogamer claimed the logs were wrong, and could have been doctored—the dev refuting this possibility—and, after two months, released a second, still-negative, exhaustive review which was punctured with discussion of the backlash, implication that the original review was legitimate and that Darkfall’s fans were being unappeasable. Although who is telling the truth between Eurogamer and Darkfall’s dev remains, to an extent, up to debate, what is objectively true is that the original review manged to cram an impressive number of factual inaccuracies in its very short text, and that its author, contributor Ed Zitron, never wrote for Eurogamer again.

Apparent Sensationalism

05 May 2009

Censorship
In the infamous Doritosgate scandal, Eurogamer censored an editorial calling for stricter ethics in game journalism after being threatened with a lawsuit by Lauren Wainwright, a journalist mentioned in the article. While the original article made no accusation towards Wainwright—only suggested she was opening herself to accusations of a conflict of interest with publisher Square-Enix with her behavior—it turned out, after the scandal was publicized, that this conflict of interest very much existed, and Wainwright had lied about it. The column’s writer, Rab Florence, either resigned or was fired from Eurogamer due to the article, with Florence himself saying the threatened lawsuit had forced him out of a job, but having kind words for Tom Bramwell, who had writted the Eurogamer editorial explaining the censorship, where he had praised Florence and claimed he had faced heavy criticism for publishing his column.

Apparent Censorship

15 Nov 2012

Intimidation
In the arguably most widely recognized gaming scandal of all time, fired Editor-in-Chief Jeff Gerstmann after he had given a subpar review score to a game that was being heavily advertised on the site at the time. Gamespot was accused for years of having fired Gerstmann following advertieser pressure, but Gerstmann could only comment when his non-disclosure agreement expired in 2012—and he finally confirmed that Gamespot’s inexperienced management team had indeed “buckled when faced with having a lot of ad dollars walk out the door”, clarifying that team was no longer at Gamespot.

Serious Intimidation

18 Nov 2007

06 Dec 2016

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To file a larger array of information and become a more helpful resource to a larger number of people, DeepFreeze is undergoing some structural changes, starting with a shift from its previous journalist-focused approach.

Now, DeepFreeze entries are no longer just filed by journalist as before, but can also be associated with one or more outlets — and can even be filed just by outlet, without being connected with a specific journalist.

This brought, last month, to a heavy overhaul of our outlets pages, and now the site is rolling out a more informative homepage, better suited to the new filing system.

Following these few months’ initial push, changes will flow out more gradually — in order to disrupt updates as little as possible.

13 Oct 2016

Cronyism
Covered the videogame Volume, which was a customer of Agency for Games—a company owned and founded by fellow journalist Leigh Alexander. Agency’s involvement in the Volume’s design has been confirmed by Bithell to have started prior to when Hamilton covered the game. Alexander and Hamilton have a very friendly relationship—exchanging tweets since 2009, meeting extremely frequently, working together. Hamilton’s article on Volume contains no disclosure of this relationship. Hamilton also covered Alexander directly several times—articles about Alexander contain very partial disclosures, while namedrops don’t disclose anything.

Apparent Cronyism

21 Mar 2014

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