The Fourth Estate (Blog Banter 45)

Lies of Omission

Master of the Blog Banter Seismic Stan asks:

In a socially-driven game environment such as EVE Online’s, everyone has an agenda. CCP promotes its products and has an army of volunteers to do the same; corporations and alliances deliver entertaining recruitment drives, CSM election candidates solicit for voter favour, bloggers and podcasters opine to their audiences.

In this intricate web of communication, influence and control, what part does propaganda play in your game?

A lot of the Banter crowd has responded already, with some spectacular propaganda art. EVE definitely inspires it.

I’m going to take a more literal response to Stan’s question, however – what does it play in my game?

Much like Ripard Teg, within my corp there is little or none – we’re not that big and people aren’t much for inter-corp maneuvering. Our alliance = our corp, and we only have two blues.

That said, while we have rivalries we don’t publish them wide-band. Publishing that you are out to get a rival gives them a chance to get prepared, and wormhole combat is all about the surprise PVP fleet from nowhere. The last thing you want to give your enemy is warning – so any “propaganda” is kept to snippy comments on private corporate forums.

Out of game, on this blog, of course, the answer is different. I have long agitated for things here. In particular, I have focused on commentary relative to CCP releases, issues, and feature ideas. Even before that, I shouted from my admittedly small pulpit about how deep the game was, with the intent to encourage others to explore and convince CCP to make it more “real”. I’m even beginning to voice spaceship politics commentary. Still, had you asked me I likely would not have categorized these things as propaganda per se – advocacy maybe. But to me propaganda requires more subtlety.

Lately, I’ve begun to explore something new. In short, I chose the right corp on my return to the game – Future Corps. Unconsciously at first, I decided to promote why it’s so great – with the intent to grow awareness and recruiting. This is more like advertising, I feel – and the closest that I do to propaganda.

So what does this mean in the broader context of the EVE community, specifically the blogosphere?

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.

– Oscar Wilde

Perhaps today we would say that CCP won’t say, the storyline is under reconstruction, and the CSM points to the NDA. We are instead dominated by Twitter, forums, and the blogosphere. So we, my friends, are EVE’s Fourth Estate.

This is why roboblogger and CSM8 candidate Ripard Teg skipped out on a run for CSM 7. In some ways, the Fourth Estate is more powerful than the Third (i.e. the CSM). We can talk more freely, and by doing so influence the hearts and minds of the players, made more credible by being in no way beholden to CCP.

Media Agenda Model

Even more importantly, on the various forums, blogs, and especially high-throughput news sites like and EVE News 24, we set the agenda for the conversations that occur around our favorite game.

Make no mistake – the individual story or artwork as propaganda is too small a view. We choose the stories we write. We choose the problems we highlight. It is the broader, more sweeping power of the Fourth Estate to choose which stories should be published and written, and which not, that is the purest exercise of the EVE community’s propaganda.

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