Why do Valorant fans love to hate George Geddes?
Also: Why do I tweet *like that?*
Note: Hi, it’s me, the writer of the newsletter. To my non-Valorant-following subscribers: If this edition seems a bit niche I promise the next one will be of more general interest.
I remember my first interaction with George Geddes because it made me mad.
About two years ago, a former Riot Games employee filed suit against the company’s CEO, Nicolas Laurent, accusing him of terminating her employment after she refused his sexual advances. (The company commissioned a third-party investigation and cleared Laurent a few months later). The suit was filed in January, but nobody had reported on it when a copy fell into my lap in early February.
I took to writing it up. That meant, well, writing the story, contacting everyone involved, getting the draft through several rounds of edits, trying to find art that wasn’t just that one photo of Riot’s offices (we ended up going with that one photo of Riot’s offices), etc. But by the time we were ready to publish, I noticed we had been scooped by a site called Daily Esports.
A lot of other outlets (including the New York Times) cited Daily Esports as the first to report on the suit. But since I had known about the filing for a few days and had done my own reporting, I chose not to. Just a few minutes after I tweeted out my story I got a response from George, who I later realized was the author of the Daily Esports piece.
“Largely went unnoticed, clearly,” he wrote, responding to a tweet in which I expressed surprise that the suit hadn’t been covered sooner. “How'd you find this information?”1 He was asking, in effect, why I hadn’t cited Daily Esports.
Largely went unnoticed, clearly. How'd you find this information?
— George Geddes (@GeorgeCGed)
Feb 9, 2021
“You little shit,” I probably thought in the moment.
“Got the filing in an email over the weekend,” I replied on Twitter. (Before you ask how/why I remember this exchange, consult the tweet below).
Live rent free in my head? Bro, I have a robust memory with shocking breadth and depth 😤
— ℳikhail Klimentov (@LeaderGrev)
Feb 10, 2023
For readers who aren’t familiar, George, 22, is the equivalent of Adrian Wojnarowski or Adam Schefter for Valorant esports. He does a lot of Valorant writing, but he’s best known for roster news — who is going where — and he’s basically unimpeachable on that beat.
He’s also a prolific tweeter. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but even people who like George seem to sometimes view it as a liability. (I don’t have the link on-hand, but I seem to recall a clip of veteran esports journalist Richard Lewis ruefully declaring George to be [ed. note: I'm paraphrasing here] “his own worst enemy”2 when it comes to Twitter). The players George covers have subtweeted at and snarked back to him in replies to his tweets. Readers, too, have made a habit of pronouncing their distaste for the reporter on forums like vlr.gg and the r/ValorantCompetitive subreddit. In February of last year, the aforementioned subreddit had to shut down a thread titled "George Geddes is getting insufferable," which the mods later characterized as a "dogpile."3
I think my general opinion on stuff is that people should be more chill. (This may become a recurring theme in this newsletter). Since 2021, my view of George has gone from mild professional frustration (see above) to amicable collegiality.4 George is a scoop machine, and any forum for Valorant esports discussion basically runs on his coverage. I'm also broadly sympathetic to somebody whose tweets are sometimes poorly received. People also often do not like my tweets! I've been asked by sources, industry colleagues, and even young writers seeking advice on how to ~make it~ in journalism: Why do I tweet like that?5 (Yes, really!)
Earlier this month, the Longform podcast interviewed Vanity Fair writer Delia Cai. In that interview, Cai (who is a few years older than me) talked about j-school and being encouraged to develop a brand and use Twitter strategically. My feeling is that ~10 years ago, when professional and aspiring journalists were joining Twitter in their capacity as journalists, the “correct” brand was staid and serious in a way that sort of evoked a newscaster on one of the three channels broadcasting on black-and-white TV. (While this posture hasn’t necessarily held up, there are still-fuzzy inchoate boundaries around what’s tasteful and professional for journalists to tweet).
But now, as people grow up on social media, they’re often branded — by their followers as much as by intention — pretty haphazardly. Branding becomes a choice you make daily around who/what you engage with and how. And a lot of people (including folks who are becoming journalists) opt to just… be themselves. When I write a new article, Twitter is an easy venue by which to broadcast it out to many people at once. But it isn’t primarily or even secondarily that.
Last year, I had an illuminating conversation (on Twitter, where else?) with an older industry colleague about (you guessed it) Twitter. With their permission, I’ve reproduced it below, with some light edits for length/clarity/continuity:
Colleague: I’ve never seen someone lobby harder for an esports award than you. I want to see you win. Good luck.
Me: Oh God, I really hope that's not how it's been registering. I am not an esports person and dip into it — as it pertains to coverage at least — pretty infrequently. I hope there is a legible sheen of irony to every post I make about the esports awards.
Colleague: Nah, you've lobbied hard. I really hope you win. I do wonder, and I’m not trying to be a jerk I swear. You are a dean at THE Columbia? And yet you work for Launcher?
Me: I think I'm realizing Twitter is maybe a bad venue for jokes. I’m not a dean.6
Colleague: Oh, I try not to confuse people as a journalist. You don’t see that as unprofessional at all?
Me: Eh, yes in some ways, but I also see Twitter as a fairly unprofessional place. I think it is a venue for readers to find work, but I don't see it as a platform on which I am exclusively a professional. I talk to friends on here, make jokes, poke fun, etc. It feels true to the platform. This is more than a professional platform for me, and I act out my whole self on here in all sorts of ways.
Colleague: You really don’t think that is a misrepresentation, one which people are apt to believe because you are a journalist?
Me: To be honest I think this response is, in some way, what I anticipated (re: the title in the bio). For me, Twitter is as close to "first thought best thought" as you can get in a platform, and I am not really thinking strategically when I post on here. It is a mirror, and people will read it in all sorts of ways, which doesn't bother me much. People are unknowable and weird and some people who do good work are off-putting and others who do shit work present as very kind. I think in my craft I sort of appreciate the gulf of meaning and letting folks make up their minds and am happy to enact that on Twitter.
Me (cont.): I think different platforms encourage different behavior. I try to be professional on Reddit, and engage honestly and kindly with people who have questions or comments. I don't really feel that way about Twitter, which, frankly, doesn't drive readership (at least not with my follower count). It is a place where I network and chatter with friends and whatnot. I feel a lot less pressure to present in a particular way on here because I've been here for ~10 years and have picked up followers from high school, from college, from games freelancing and now esports, among other places.
For its comparative lack of influence (or capacity to drive readership) Twitter holds outsize mindshare among journalists — and readers too — because it’s the platform on which it’s easiest to peacock one’s profession (for email-job-havers, at least, if not fitness coaches). But I also wish it were more commonly understood as a space where people grow up online; where they can, with relatively little consequence, hotswap affects like funny, charming, weird, cute (and also test the boundaries of being unfunny or off-putting).
Which brings me back to George. People who are mad at George are not mad at the work. You can’t be, really, because there’s nothing to be mad about! He’s good at his job! The scene he participates in relies on his coverage. And similar to the note in my first newsletter about how it would be weird to care about a company’s financials in a fan-like capacity, it almost feels weird to me to know or care about a journalist’s personality outside of the ways in which it might disrupt their capacity to cover something honestly. But roster moves are about as hard-news-y as it gets in esports. A thing happens, or it doesn’t. I can’t really picture a link between, say, the fault pinpointed in the aforementioned Reddit post (“George Geddes is getting insufferable”) and George’s reporting.
The thing to be mad about is a broken internet that shepherded you onto Twitter — the site for shortform prone-to-miscommunication snippets of text which people use for memes, slogans, and passive aggression — to get all of your news.
I also wrote “substance-less internet of getting mad at optics and vibes” in my notes while drafting. I like that turn of phrase in floaty note form, but less so as an actual sentence. I hope you just sort of… get it.