The Washington Post is hiring not one but two reporters to cover the videogame industry.
That’s a bigger story than either of those reporters will ever break.
After years of neglect, mockery, and even hostility, videogame coverage has slowly been seeping into the mainstream news media. But that coverage is usually pawned off on tech reporters, freelancers, and even guest columnists. Now The Washington Post is making videogames a regular beat.
Here’s the job posting. You have till Wednesday to apply…
“You can imagine that we are very interested in this area of coverage,” Mike Hume told me via email a few days ago. Hume is a Post assignment editor for sports, and he added…
It’s a multi-billion industry that impacts a market that ranges from kids to adults and has not received much mainstream media attention except when it’s been treated as an oddity. It warrants more. We think there are a lot of stories that can and will be told here.
This is good news for anyone who loves videogames, which is a lot of people. According to the Electronic Software Association, “Over 166 million adults in the United States play video games.”
That’s more than the 138 million who voted in the last presidential election. Until now, The Washington Post has covered the crap out of politics but not videogames.
Every newspaper in the country has a sports department, with editors just like Mike Hume. But guess what? The U.S. video game industry raked in $43 billion last year – more than the NFL ($15 billion), Major League Baseball ($10.3 billion), the NBA (7.4 billion), and the NHL ($4.9 billion) combined.
So yeah, every sports editor should already have a videogames reporter. The Washington Post might be first, but they’re also late.
While The Washington Post is hiring two reporters, it’s dipping only one toe into videogame coverage. Both are “contract positions,” meaning these aren’t permanent jobs.
So how long are those contracts for? I don’t know, and Hume deflected.
“Right now I’m about to head out on vacation, but I’d be very happy to talk to you about this topic down the line,” Hume told me. “Can we circle back once we get these hires taken care of? And please, if you have anyone who may be interested, definitely pass along recommendations.”
When I follow up with Hume, I’ll pass along a different kind of recommendation: How The Washington Post can win even more journalism awards than it already does.
I run something called the Kunkel Awards, and while they’re certainly not the Pulitzer Prizes, they are – sadly – the nation’s only contest for videogame journalists.
The Kunkels are reluctantly sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. I say “reluctantly” because SPJ might be the nation’s largest journalism organization, but it’s not the edgiest. As SPJ’s longest-serving board member, I had to lobby hard to get permission to recognize reporting that one SPJ president called “trivial.”
And it’s not like the Kunkels have been embraced by the existing videogame news media. In each of our four years, we’ve skipped awarding a few second or third places. For the past two years, one category has featured no winners at all – because none of the entries met the basic standards of even decent journalism.
While there are some excellent videogame news sites out there, many were created by gaming fans, not journalists. So The Washington Post could clean up at next year’s Kunkels. The venerable paper is quite literally changing the game. Hopefully, other mainstream news outlets will follow where The Washington Post is heading.