I am struggling with how to write this blog so the point is taken, but no one feels like I’m flogging them. Anyone who knows me recognizes that I can be very blunt, sometimes overly so, and so yes, in this case for me, the struggle is real.
For the past couple of days, I’ve seen a Duran Duran news story being flaunted, retweeted and posted by Duranies. The unfortunate point I would like to make (or fortunate, depending upon your view), is that the story is completely false, as is the joke of a “news” website that somehow makes money by creating stories such as these.
I’m not going to mention the topic of the story or give a link because quite frankly – we need to stop.
There are a good many of us that work for the benefit of this band. By “work” I mean, we spend a great deal of man hours searching the web for news, writing articles, reposting news stories, pictures and tidbits, all for the love of Duran Duran. We all do great work, and it takes all of us (creator, partaker, reader, listener, cheering section, or otherwise) to create this fan ecosystem. However, from time to time, something comes over us. We forget to pay attention to where we’re getting this “news” from. We worry more about being the first to post than we do about the “news” actually being real. Or important. Or even ethical.
What am I talking about? Let me explain what I don’t mean. This isn’t about posting what we believe to be a real show date only to find out that no, it’s not and that you were mistaken. Mistakes happen. This isn’t really even about speculation about albums, tours, and music. For crying out loud – that’s what we do as fans. This is about posting stories and rumors that can be hurtful, deceitful, and possibly harming someone’s reputation and career. Even if you’re not the person who not-so-cleverly decided to write a horribly personal rumor about someone and publish it, when you decide to repost that rumor without bothering to investigate and verify the truthfulness, you’ve just added to the problem. Saying you didn’t know isn’t good enough. It does not show due diligence, and it definitely isn’t responsible.
From time to time, even Amanda and I have been caught up in the excitement. It takes the two of us to put ourselves in check. We’ve been sent music – not recently mind you – but prior to the last album being properly released we were sent the full album anonymously. I’m quite sure the band didn’t send it to us, but we really did not know who it was from. It took all of my willpower not to post it and brag that we had the album. Ultimately, we did the right thing. We waited, because even in that moment, it was not OUR news to tell. The band deserved to have the album drop when they wanted and without our broadcasting it ahead of time. We also saw many friends boast about having it and hearing it ahead of time, but we felt that as a public blog, it was best for us to wait. Maybe we were foolish, but ultimately, it takes that kind of critical thinking to decide what is right and what really is not, even if it would have brought a ton of traffic to our site.
The bottom line here is that for those of us who are bloggers or “fan-producers” of any kind (as all of my fandom textbooks like to call people like Amanda and I), whether it’s by posting photos, writing stories, keeping up a news blog, etc…. not only do we have a responsibility to our material, we have a responsibility to the band and to one another. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be a critical thinker. be BETTER. Check your sources. Check them twice. A news website that is really “the news” is never going to say that reprinting their material is never OK, even if you have their permission. That doesn’t even make sense. Just because a story shows up in a Google search or as a Google alert doesn’t mean it’s truthful. Just because something is written on the internet doesn’t make it true. Defamation is a very real thing. Let not be defaming the very people we claim to care about. Real news really WILL come, and when it does, you can be proud to be a part of the brigade of fans that cares about this band.
Mistakes happen. We all make them from time to time. Sometimes we read something thinking it says one thing when in fact it says another. Defaming someone through libel though is a very different thing. Be aware.