Earlier today we posted a rumor story on the site about a possible announcement of a new technology coming to Sony's Playstation 3.
The Playstation Home, we reported, would be an intriguing blending of the Mii and achievements, allowing gamers to create a virtual world for customized avatars and then decorate that space with items unlocked through game play.
What readers couldn't have known was the great lengths we went to to try and pin down the veracity of the rumor before publishing and, when finally deciding to go live with the rumor, to make sure we put it in the correct context.
In so doing, Sony asked us not to publish the story, first nicely, then not so much. Sony Computer Entertainment of American representatives reminded us that the story was a rumor and then went on to say that publishing it could harm our professional relationship with them.
When I responded that we were going forward with the story and that sometimes news doesn't come from official sources I was told that if we published we would likely be blackballed by the company.
Specifically, they said we would be asked to return our debug PS3, uninvited from all meetings scheduled with Sony at GDC, including one on blogger relations and a one-on-one with Phil Harrison, and that they would no longer deal with us.
Knowing that, we went forward with the story, choosing not to point out the threats.
Shortly after the story ran, and I forwarded it to Dave Karraker, the senior director of corporate communications for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, to point out we did decide to run it.
Here was his response:
This is an email I was really hoping I would never have to write, but it is what it is. When I came on board here at Sony, I made every effort to be as inclusive as possible to media and the blogging community in an effort to improve previously damaged relationships. This included getting people access to executives, opening our events to more individuals and personally responding as quickly as possible to inquiries. This was done in good faith with the thought that the people I was working with would operate with the same integrity and courtesy I think I demonstrated when I was a reporter. Basically, I went out on a limb for a lot of people — people SCEA PR and SCEA management had written off. I caught a lot of flack for it from folks, but I felt strongly it was the right thing to do.
I am very disappointed that after trying to work with you as closely as possible and provide you and your team with access and information, you chose to report on this rumor.... I can't defend outlets that can't work cooperatively with us.
So, it is for this reason, that we will be canceling all further interviews for Kotaku staff at GDC and will be dis-inviting you to our media event next Tuesday. Until we can find a way to work better together, information provided to your site will only be that found in the public forum.
Again, I take absolutely no joy in sending you this note, but given the situation you have put me into, I have no choice.
Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
Sony Computer Entertainment America
I obviously took no joy in receiving it, though I do believe it adds to the veracity of our initial rumor report.
As I told Dave Karraker in reply, this only highlights the differences between what PR people do for a living and what journalists do.
Obviously I disagree with your decision, but it sounds like your mind is made up.
I think this only highlights the differences that PR people and journalists have. My interest is not in making sure that Sony has positive news or that the timing of their news is correct, my job only is to inform the readers of news as quickly and accurately as I can.
Hopefully, one day this dispute will settle down and you will reopen communication with us.
Know this, while I disagree with this decision and think it is a monumental mistake, it will not effect our continuing coverage of Sony and the gaming software and hardware your company makes and supports.
Sony's decision is disappointing, not because of what it means to Kotaku, but because of what it means to the industry.
Ed's Note I just got off the phone with Dave, we were able to resolve our differences.