Being a part of digital media is hard. We feel an obligation to get news out to our readers in a timely manner, but we also want to make sure that what we report is accurate. Often those two things are at odds with each other. Speed (along with a number of other factors) doesn’t always allow us the time or bandwidth to do the in-depth research that a story deserves. If we’re trying to break news or be on the frontlines of a conversation, it’s critical that we lock in our story with relevant SEO keyphrases early. That traffic can mean a lot to us, not just for that article, but for helping us rank better overall.
Then comes the downside. We miss facts. Details of the story get obscured. We fail to do our due diligence in researching something, taking for granted that what we’re typing out is right based on the source we got it from. But the damage is done. The story is already out there. Often when it’s discovered, we’re forced to take some kind of action. Maybe we have to issue a correction on the story. Maybe we’ll write up a whole new article to make sure it gets seen. And sometimes, the error is bad enough that we are forced to pull an article altogether for one reason or another.
Look, I’m not saying that this is a regular occurrence with us or even any other media outlet, but the nature of our industry does mean that it unfortunately happens with an alarming frequency that’s can be embarrassing. I’ve been on the receiving end of it, getting new information that needs to be corrected. As Editor-in-Chief, I also try to take full responsibility for the content that goes up on PlayStation LifeStyle and making sure that we’re all getting our facts straight. But the truth is, sometimes we mess up, and that sucks.
The Mortal Kombat 11 Skins Cost Controversy
Most recently, we reported on the alleged cost of the Mortal Kombat 11 skins in real-world money, with in-depth research and math done by a Reddit user. The only problem? That Reddit used failed to account for the fact that the vast majority of the skins in the game cannot be purchased using real-world money currency in the game. Premium paid content and in-game unlockables are two separate entities. Yet we and many other major outlets (I saw the story hit the likes of IGN, VG247, Dexerto, and other popular gaming sites) made the mistake of hastily reporting on the Reddit user’s research without authenticating it ourselves (which should have been easy to do as the game is already out). But it’s easy to see reporting from a larger brand and assume that the sources are accurate. When we’re trying to balance speed with quality, we’ll try to shave off time wherever it makes the most sense. In this case, it made sense to us at the time not to dig into it any further.
Then comes the unfortunate and embarrassing part. First we get called out in the comments. And if that’s not bad enough, Ed Boon himself then puts the whole “news” story on blast and completely debunks it, calling it bullshit because it doesn’t even get the facts right and misses that major point. We felt this was a big enough deal that a simple correction was not enough. It deserves a whole new headline of its own to really drive home the fact that our reporting was wrong the first time.
By trying to be first and capitalize on traffic (something I’m not apologizing for, it’s how we keep the lights on), we rushed into a minefield of false facts. While there’s still a nugget of truth to the story regarding the long grind for cosmetics in Mortal Kombat 11, the misleading headline about microtransactions is now a major part of the Mortal Kombat 11 discourse, and we fed into that misinformation. We all know that more people read the original incorrect report than when a correction gets issued, meaning that by reporting wrong information first, we have set a stage for people to hate on and attack the developers. Just search Google for Mortal Kombat 11 skins. Our original story is on the front page, yet I can’t even find the second story that corrects it.
We can only hope that the correction picks up traction and takes off in a way that it becomes the central conversation. For the same reason that leaks can be damaging because they deliver the message in the wrong way, similarly incorrect news stories paint a certain specific picture that the internet and end users will take and run with. The idea is that we want to balance speed with accuracy, and find ways to quickly fact check stories before rushing to the presses.
I have a commitment here at PlayStation LifeStyle that we will always try to be better. We’ll all learn from our mistakes and set the stage for better reporting next time while also maintaining that speed that helps us get information out to you fast. We’ll try not to feed into the incorrect rhetoric, but if we ever do, we’re more than happy to admit our mistake and own it. We’re all human, but we owe you, the developers, and ourselves our best work here.
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