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Tag Archives: journalism

Now now, NowGamer

Today, videogames website NowGamer caused a bit of a stir by launching a new competition. That might sound innocent enough, but this competition wasn’t to win a free copy of a game, or a trip to see an upcoming title in action. No, this competition carried a slightly more dubious prize: column inches on NowGamer.

A lucky winner will be selected by the NowGamer team to write a new regular blog on the popular games website, whose other writers are all professional and paid. Games journalism might sound like the best job in the world, but whether that’s accurate or not it is still a job. NowGamer is turning it into something you win, not something you earn.

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Independently stupid: The ‘Mano 10’ nonsense continues

I may have jumped the gun yesterday when I accused The Metro of making up a drug. It would seem, having browsed the ‘net a little more, that it was in fact Humberside Police’s PR department that drew up this alarmist story. The papers should get better at verifying their sources, obviously, but various rags from the local news to The Independent seem to be in on the act.

In fact, it’s The Independent that wins the award for the most ludicrous coverage of “Mano 10”, supposedly a dangerous new drug that’s hit the streets, but in fact simply a brand of diazepam that’s been imported from India. Diazepam is, of course, more widely known as Valium, and is an anti-anxiety medication commonly prescribed to patients who suffer from panic attacks or insomnia.

In low doses, it calms your nerves and relaxes your muscles (which is why it’s also prescribed to people whose muscular problems are causing them a lot of pain). In higher doses, it’s a sedative. To The Independent, it’s actually heroin, which came as a surprise to me when I read their take on the matter earlier today.

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The Metro invents new killer drug

Perhaps The Metro would like to explain this article, which purports to expose a “new danger drug” that’s brutally murdering our kids as we speak.

The article reports that “teenagers are risking death by taking a new drug that is sold for as little as 50p a pill.” It’s called Mano 10, says the piece, and it has effects that are – quite bizarrely and contradictorily – similar to both heroin and amphetamines.

However, the drug is in fact not new. The pills marked ‘Mano 10’ are a brand of diazepam – more commonly known by its most prominent brand name, Valium.

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Ecstasy, or hysteria? – On the BBC’s drugs reporting

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I’ve added a lengthy clarification to this post. Click here to read it.

It’s become a bit of a cliché to say the BBC’s reporting is going downhill, but that’s because – well – it is. And one of the trends seems to be an over-reliance on bad science, when the faintest drop of research, consultation or common bloody sense would reveal to a particular journalist or section editor that the words they’re writing down are bound to be inaccurate.

Increasingly, the media – and not just the tabloids – are enjoying fighting a bit of a war against drugs. There are several key commentators who are keen to stress how much the situation is exacerbated by the press, but on the whole reporters seem unprepared to rest on science and sensibility, instead opting for reactionary statements with no balance whatsoever.

It happened with the mephedrone scare, the government eventually backed into a corner where it could choose to accept scientific statements from medical and pharmacological professionals, or go with the Daily Mail, which it ultimately decided to — banning not just mephedrone, but all related substances, even rushing through legislation which allowed them to bypass the usual regulations with regards to drug classification. Want to know the grand total of published, peer-reviewed pieces of research into the effects of mephedrone at the time the classification ruling was passed? Pretty sure it was zero. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Certainly the other drugs outlawed in April 2010 were banned based on no evidence whatsoever.

Anyway, today, the BBC has run this extraordinarily alarmist headline:

Super-strength ecstasy warning after Ayrshire deaths

Basically, two men die after two separate nights out in Ayrshire, after taking what police suspect was ecstasy that’s “six times stronger than normal.” The article is careful not to misreport anything as such – the quotes seem genuine, and there’s certainly nothing that’s outright fabricated by the journalist himself. However, ask any specialist on the subject and they would explain to you why the article is hysterically misleading — even though police probably did issue a warning that “ecstasy tablets six times stronger than normal have been sold in the west of Scotland.”

Here’s why it’s bullshit.

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A New Year’s Resolution

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Hello. My name’s Lewis Denby, and I run a videogames website called Resolution Magazine.

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How I came to be doing this

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A mega house moving week has prevented me from keeping up to date with this, and mega-conference-workload next week will probably mean another lull.  In the meantime, though, a couple of people have asked me how I’ve gone about getting into this games-writing lark, so I thought I’d pen an answer.  I meant it to be a couple of paragraphs.  It’s actually about a thousand words.


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