Did GameSpot Commit Brand Suicide with Jeff Gerstmann Firing?

If the highly detailed rumors surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s firing are true, then the people who run GameSpot have, by their own hand, utterly trashed a great media brand.

The Spot has long been regarded as the most professional of all the game-oriented news and review sites. It’s a personal favorite of mine, so this news makes me especially sad. When GamePolitics occasionally links to a review for a particular game, it has always been to GameSpot.

I don’t know Jeff Gerstmann, although I met him once or twice at various E3 shows. But any working journalist can summon righteous indignation over what appears to have happened here. Fired because an advertiser didn’t like your review of their crappy product?

Disgraceful, if true.

Impossible to defend.

There’s no official confirmation, of course, and that may never come. Corporate apparatchiks – like those at CNET who apparently pulled the trigger on Gerstmann – will invariably hunker down in times like these, preferring to ride out the storm behind vague press releases which pretend they are protecting their victim’s privacy. And Gerstmann may have obligated himself to keep quiet in return for some type of severance package. But the mounting unofficial evidence is so detailed that it rings true.

If there’s any legitimate damage control to be done here, CNET should do it, and quickly. Frankly, I don’t expect any.

And GamePolitics readers shouldn’t expect to see any more links to GameSpot.

UPDATE: Check out this compilation of Gerstmann news by GameSpot reader Subrosian. Penny Arcade has a great cartoon (we’re showing one panel at left) and commentary on the scandal.

This Valleywag post, citing an anonymous commenter with the screen name “gamespot” is probably the most daming information on the Gerstmann affair:

…I’m sure management wants to spin this as the G-Man being unprofessional to take away from the egg on their face… This management team has shown what they’re willing to do. Jeff had ten years in and was fucking locked out of his office and told to leave the building…

There has been an increasing amount of pressure to allow the advertising teams to have more of a say in the editorial process…

When companies make games as downright contemptible as Kane and Lynch, they deserve to be called on it… everyone at GS now thinks that if they give a low score to a high-profile game, they’ll be shitcanned…

Joystiq has tracked down more commentary from past and present GameSpot staffers.

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