The Church & State thing again

Nasty story here of how the thin dividing line between editorial and advertising departments at a major media company can sometimes get all blurred and ugly. I'm a little late to this one, but it's still worth a link.

According to this piece on the Pronet Advertising blog, a key game reviewer at Gamespot was fired after embarrassing a major advertising client with a candid, critical review of one of their latest games.

The short version of the story, from Pronet contributor David Chen:
"If you haven't been paying attention these past few days, here is the basic story, told largely through rumors and unattributed, though plausible, sources: Gerstmann, a 10-year veteran of the industry, was abruptly fired last Thursday for a negative review of "Kane and Lynch," a game published by Eidos Interactive. Eidos had purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ads on the site and was apparently able to use the contract to pressure CNET into forcing Gerstmann out of a job."
Ouch. The reviewer, Jeff Gerstmann, was later interviewed by MTV reporter Stephen Totilo. It's worth reading the full piece, but here's a quick excerpt from one of Jeff Gerstmann's responses quoted in Totilo's post:
"As for the future of game journalism, you asked if it’s realistic for readers to expect a church and state separation between editorial and sales. Realistic or not, I think readers should demand that from a publication. Some people probably think that’s a little old-fashioned or hopelessly idealistic, given the changing nature of advertising these days, but there you go."
I like it. He is, like so many of us, swimming against the rising tide - but it's still an incredibly important principle to uphold. There's an entire three-day conference worth of material in the issues surrounding this one, but I have a meeting to get to.