A journalist for the Daily Mirror has been exposed for actively seeking for negative stories about children “addicted” to Fortnite – offering up to £300 in exchange for a scoop.
The journalist, Matthew Barbour, had recently been outed on Twitter after running a front page piece titled “Fortnite made me a suicidal drug addict”, exposed for having offered payment in exchange for juicy stories about video game addiction in the past.
The Twitter thread gave proof of Barbour offering £100 to anyone willing to share a tale about how Pokemon Go had ruined their life.
Eventually, he didn’t run the story falsely provided to him about a fictional husband and wife have marriage problems, because “for it to really be juicy, maybe [they] should have split up”.
Reported by EuroGamer, Barbour used an agency called ‘ResponseSource’ to find a suitable case, that fits the desired narrative.
“Journalists post their case study request on Response Source’s website. This is then connected to news agencies and public relations people who may be able to provide the relevant case studies.”
EuroGamer also obtained one of the emails sent by ResponseSource on behalf of Barbour for his front page Fortnite story. In it, he offers £300 for a story of Fortnite addicted child, adding “we need this to be as strong as possible.”
When EuroGamer reached out to Barbour to ask him various questions about the validity of his story and how he sourced it, he replied “am I being paid to provide these answers?”
The counsellor which the Mirror story claims is treating the patients, Steve Pope, did not reply to questions about his role in the story, but has been featured in numerous news outlets and even national television, focusing on video game addiction.
He is also credited in another Mirror story which claimed a 9 year old girl was in rehab because she was so addicted to Fortnite, that she would wet herself rather than go to the toilet.
While this tale of Fortnite addiction cannot be proven as false, EuroGamer’s findings provide a unique insight into just how some of these tabloid stories come to be.