Monday, February 3, 2014

The Battle Of B-R5RB5: The Curious Case Of The AP Story

I don't play in EVE Online's null sec regions or participate in the epic fleet fights, but I do follow the news.  In the case of the fight in B-R5RB5 last week, a lot of news outlets carried the story, courtesy of an article written by Associated Press entertainment writer Derrik J. Lang.  The unusual part of the tale is that readers received a different answer on how big the fight was depending on the site hosting the article.

Mr. Lang apparently was able to talk with the Pandemic Legion fleet commander (Manfred Sideous?)before the USTZ was due to log into EVE, so any estimate of the final tally of losses was just that, an estimate.  Yet, that estimate kept changing.  First, let's take a look at the story as it appears on the CBS News website.


Screen capture on 2 February 2014

I could not find the original story on the AP website, but I believe that, based on time stamps, that the CBS News version is the original story.  I'd like to point out the quote that I find most interesting:
"'EVE Online' utilizes its own in-game currency, and Carl expects the damage from Monday's conflict to equal about $200,000 in real-world cash."
Nothing wrong with that quote or that estimate, especially in the middle of a very long fight.  That's a huge sum and I doubt anyone really expected the total to reach the $300,000 - $330,000 range that CCP reported as the final estimate.  But what is wrong is when news organizations put words into someone's mouth.

Now, I don't know who adjusted the numbers, because I didn't pay close enough attention.  I paid more attention to the details around the fight and not enough to what the MSM was up to.  First, let's look at Fox News.

Screen capture on 2 February 2014
"EVE Online" — with more than 500,000 players from around the world piloting starships, trading goods and engaging in galactic espionage — utilizes its own in-game currency, and Carl expects the damage from Monday's conflict to be the game equivalent of about $300,000 in real-world cash, based on data compiled from within the game. [emphasis mine]
Now, I realize that local newspapers and websites will edit AP stories for space.  That could explain the fragment that appears in the story that appears on the FOX website that is missing from the CBS version.  But the $300,000?  I don't think so.  Especially since the URL to the story ends with "unpaid-bill-costs-gamer-200000-in-eve-online".  That indicates that the story originally read $200,000.  But did the AP writer send out a change, or did someone at FOX News decide to just change the figure to match reality?  To determine that, we need to look at more news sites.

Screen capture on 2 February 2014

The quote that appears in the story posted on the National Public Radio website reads:
"'EVE Online' — with more than 500,000 players from around the world piloting starships, trading goods and engaging in galactic espionage — utilizes its own in-game currency, and Carl expects the damage from Monday's conflict to be the game equivalent of about $500,000 in real-world cash, based on data compiled from within the game." [emphasis mine]
Okay, in the span of under 5 hours between the time the story was posted on the CBS News website and the NPR website, the number had increased from $200,000 to $500,000.  I'm not aware of any news that came out on Tuesday that would influence the number, except that the number of titans believe destroyed was 25% less than the number listed in the article.  So did NPR modify the story or did the AP?

Articles from Australia and India, screen captures from 2 February 2014
Judging from articles posted in Australia and India, the AP updated the story and the reason CBS and FOX did not report the $500,000 figure is that they published the story quickly.  Based on what I've seen, I don't know if FOX adjusted the story from $200,000 to $500,000 before the number was adjusted down to $300,000 for FOX's final version.  But based on another AP story written by Mr. Lang, he did post the correct figures about 30 minutes after CCP Dolan's dev post went live.

Perhaps I'm making too much out of the modifications to the article as it morphed its way around the world.  But I'm a bit disturbed for two reasons.  The first is that the $300,000 figure will eventually become $500,000.  I've seen reports in Forbes and the International Business Times that use the $300,000 - $500,000 figure due to the reporting by the AP.  The second reason is a pretty basic one.  I think the evidence is pretty clear that James Carl predicted a loss of around $200,000 for the fight.  Do we really want the press, especially the MSM, changing what people say?  That's a bad habit for the press to have.

2 comments:

  1. When I can get my Data off my od laptops HDD, I cam find you a link to what I believe is the original AP story, and another version of it that was posted here in NZ, which has the value roughly adjusted to NZD rather than USD

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  2. All those newspapers and their headlines with xxx$ lost. Friends who know I play EvE asked me: "How much money have YOU lost?". They thought one would buy "stuff" in EvE using real life currency because of all the newspapers. Now all those ISK sellers out there... I'm pretty curious if those headlines will have a significant impact in ISK sold.

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