Australian journo sacked for whistle-blowing

Written by Joe Martin

April 7, 2010 // 11:06 a.m.

Tags: #australian-journo-sacked-for-whistle-blowing #gta #journalism #red-dead-redemption #rockstar

Australian games journalist Toby McCasker claims he was recently fired from his role as Deputy Entertainment Editor of Zoo Weekly for blowing the whistle on a policy of trading good reviews for advertising.

Specifically, McCasker told News.com says that developers like Rockstar will often demand positive reviews from staff and that he was fired after posting on Facebook excerpts from Rockstar PR emails.

"This is the biggest game we've done since GTA IV, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world," said the email McCasker posted on Facebook, though the post has since been deleted. "Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this - he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here."

Since posting the excerpt, McCasker has been fired from Zoo Weekly, since claiming to be part of a system that encourages companies to trade advertising for good reviews.

"I did not sign up to become a journalist to write advertorials masquerading as editorial," McCasker said. "This 'cash for comment' culture that is fast becoming the status quo within print media bothers me a lot."

It's worth noting that nowhere in the posted excerpts does Rockstar overtly say that it will pay for good reviews - and that Rockstar has defended itself by saying that it "is not clear on what the story is here."

"We always try to present our games in the most compelling way to media and fans alike," continued Rockstar's official statement.

Zoo's editor, Paul Merrill, has also weighed in by saying that Rockstar never sought to seek good reviews through ad deals and that no games company has ever approached Zoo for such a thing.

"[McCasker was fired for] a number of reasons," says Merrill, "including his decision to post a private email on his Facebook page. McCasker should not be considered a credible source on this matter."

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