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Daily Esports spoke with CS:GO insider Jarek “DeKay” Lewis about his nomination for Journalist of the Year at the Esports Awards and about journalism in general.
You have been nominated for Journalist of the Year in 2018. What does that mean for you and what do you think makes you better than all the other nominees?
In all honesty I don’t really care about awards and I’ll still feel that way if I win. That’s not to say I wouldn’t accept it, I would. I just not the type of individual to aim for some sort of outside appreciation with my work. I work towards my own standards and goals I set for myself, never anything else. The fact that a group of people felt my work was good enough to get nominated alongside Richard and Thorin was an accomplishment in itself. I’d go as far as saying I value the nomination higher than winning the actual award, if that makes sense. I don’t think I’m the best nominee, I have much to improve on still.
With a new wave of journalists on the rise, what words of advice can you give them?
Work on your craft every single day and prioritize perfecting the process over getting results. For my own work, I don’t even pay attention to analytics. For my entire time with Slingshot Esports (my first publication) I never saw how many hits my work received. I still don’t know actually. In this industry, written work is severely underappreciated and anyone venturing into the territory should know that from the start. Many great journalists in esports have yet to receive the appreciation they deserve and the reality is that they may never get it. In my opinion, a journalist should feel naturally passionate about their work. If that doesn’t exist naturally, don’t waste your time even trying.
When you started out, what was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was dealing with unconstructive criticism from the depths of the internet. I’d vent to my peers in the industry or my editor until I realized that almost always it was the same couple people doing it every single time. The ratio of toxic people commenting stupid stuff about your work compared to those who enjoyed it and moved on silently is very tiny, but it’s hard to see at first. I also realized that every moment I spent agonizing over what people thought was time I could have spent perfecting my craft, so I learned to prioritize that instead.
Behind the scenes, have players ever avoided you or been distant out of fear of leaking a roster move?
Not that I can recall. There will always be times where people’s feelings get hurt during the process of my work. It’s almost always temporary and is very infrequent because I have constantly told everyone I talk to the same thing: I’ll be friendly with almost anyone, but my work always comes first. No one is off the table when it comes to writing, it doesn’t matter who it is. Since I’m always transparent about that, it’s never caused an issue really.
Do you think the #Fake News excuse has made its way into esports at all? If so, to what extent?
I don’t think anyone has intentionally published misrepresented information. It might happen naturally once in a while due to lack of experience or professionalism, but I don’t think it’s ever been intentional.
You face a lot more criticism than other journalists, how do you deal with the constant beratement on every report you publish?
This kind of ties into the question I answered above. I’m quite used to it at this point. I’ll always maintain the opinion that the abuse I have received over the past two years has been extremely unfair but it’s gotten much better recently. It helped that I never made it a focal point publicly and any frustration I had I kept private to help starve the trolls. I’d have to thank my long time editor Vince Nairn for helping me through that more than anyone else. He always kept the process in perspective and highlighted what I was doing right.
Has the constant criticism from sites like HLTV and Reddit prevented you from advancing in your discipline?
I think I’ve maybe read the HLTV forum like once. It only took one thread to realize that it’s a place I’d never return to, so they’ve had no impact on my work whatsoever. Reddit as a whole has been extremely valuable for my work and the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives thus far. It’s unfortunate that one website can make or break a writer’s career when it comes to paid work for a publication, but maybe that’ll change one day. I can’t say either website prevented anything with my work at any given point, I’m not the type of person to let anyone other than myself improve my work.