Keepin' It Real

[Uh-oh - he's getting up on his soapbox again...]

There's been a bit of grumbling about yesterday's Charlie Foxtrot (look it up if you don't know) surrounding the premature reporting of Dave Arneson's passing. Granted, I think most of us feel like boobs (some more than others) for mistakenly posting on this topic, but I've read a few posts and blog comments last night and this morning that either imply or outright state that those involved should be ashamed of themselves for not getting it right.

And I'm sorry, but I think some of these folks need to come back to reality. To that end, here's something to keep in mind (my comment from another blog, excerpted here):

With all due respect, anybody who looks to the blogosphere as a source for "hard news" is barking up the wrong tree - and should be ashamed of it. With a few exceptions, bloggers aren't journalists, have not had journalism education or experience, and their output should not be treated as journalism. The blogosphere is people talking and sharing ideas and information informally, just as they would over a cup of coffee in the break room. I don't know about you, but I don't expect that my co-workers have run down the source of their info and two or three backup sources; I just take it all with a grain of salt, and sometimes it's wrong. Since anyone can start a blog and post to it, the same should be expected of the blogosphere.

This ain't CNN people - it's a blog. And I'm not Wolf Blitzer (although how cool would it be to have that name? I think I'd have to be an action movie hero to properly live up to a name like that). I don't have an editor, nor do I have a fact-checking department. I'm a guy who posts stuff on teh interwebs. So is James over at Grognardia, Chgowiz over at Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog, Jeff over at Jeff's Gameblog, etc.

Let's just keep that in mind for future reference, shall we?


(Oh, and for anybody who erroneously posted on the topic at hand and still feels bad about it, it's time to move on - unless you're angling for a spanking, in which case, this isn't Castle Anthrax - if you know what I mean.)

[Steps down from soapbox.]
. . . . .


  1. I respect your point, Christopher. But I also don't think it's much to hold ourselves (as a community) to the standards of your average high school newspaper. The problem I had yesterday was one I also have with "hard" news outlets (boy, let me write a 10 page opinion about how bad the "regular" news has gotten lately, and you'll see what I mean); trying to be the "first" with the scoop leads to errors like this, and erodes whatever slight credibility we have.

    Even if we are writing blogs on Non Weapon Proficiences, 1E vs 3E, and the length of the glaive-guisarme, the reader deserves to believe we are somewhat reliable in our opinions. But the problem may be me; I just think most bloggers do a great job and actually ARE the equal of some hard news outlets, especially when it comes to stories about our hobby. I hate to see us fall prey to the same excesses as the "real" journalists out there.

  2. @Badmike: Trust me, I'm just as critical as the next guy (probably even more-so - by a long shot) so I understand where you're coming from. I just don't think that holding normal folks to the same standard as journalists (or higher, given the state of today's news media) is realistic. Yes, attempting to be "the first to post" is bad form, and shame on those who did so. But as a reader, it's my responsibility to understand that these people are not journalists, and no guarantee is made as to the veracity of what they post. IMO, reader responsibility has dwindled as much as journalistic integrity has since my days as a journalism major. (Yes, I have a degree in journalism; and I'm sure my professors are rolling in their graves - those who aren't still alive, that is :P - at the state of today's news media.)

    So, in as much as I hope that our blogging community would hold itself to a high standard, I just don't think I have the right to expect it. If that makes sense...

  3. @Badmike - I still feel as low today as I did yesterday, but let me set one thing straight - I wasn't trying to be "first" as much as I was reacting to what I thought was credible information coming from two reliable sources. Reliable as in 99% of the time. It's unfortunate that this time was a mistake. None can feel worse than those of us who thought the worst and found out we'd made a mistake. There wasn't a scoop going on, we were mourning what we thought was the passing of someone really wonderful.

    The f***ed up part is that a hospice stay is usually a very bad sign. In the pit of my stomach is the realization that we may have to face the same story again.

    All I can is that I'm really sorry.

  4. @Chgowiz: Please see my "this is not Castle Anthrax" addendum to this post. :P

    Thanks for clarifying things. I'm sure many of the people who posted about Mr. Arneson's passing were in a similar boat - I know I was. It was an easy mistake, believing the news - we all expected it, and the few sources we had for it have been credible in the past.

    I truly believe that most of the posts were sincere, and not attempts to be "the first to press" with the news. Not all, perhaps, but most. And for that majority, I believe it was an honest mistake, and one for which nobody should be held to account. We're a friendly (I like to think) community, not a news network, and mistakes happen.

    End of (not a news) story.

  5. Only if I get to prosecute the taking of Castle Anthrax.

    Bad Zoot!

  6. I've been intimately involved in newsworthy events during the years...only to see the reporting completely bolloxed up when finally reported on by the mainstream media (to the point where there were bald faced lies involved by the reporters). Being as intimately involved in the profession as you are, Christopher, I bet you've seen the same from your side (I firmly believe the local media simply makes up details in about 50% of the stories they report on, it's so bad here in DFW). So I'm probably more sensitive than I need to be when it comes to "Just blogging", since I think for the most part we are in this for the "love of the game" and not any sensationistic concerns. It's not like there was any malicious intent....we'll just do better next time I guess.


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