In the wake of one of the biggest "oops" in RPG blog history (the mistaken reporting of D&D co-founder Dave Arneson's passing earlier today), there has been a generally red faced, embarrassed, "what on earth happened?" response among the blogger community. Not one of it's best days, and it could have been easily avoided. The problems range from using Wikipedia as a source (it had the false news up pretty quickly) to not checking sources (basic operating procedure for any serious member of the media) to joining the ill-informed, rush-to-post gang of would be Woodward and Bernsteins for no reason than to be the "first one" to inform the world at large of a "death in the family" (actually kind of a morbid response, if you ask me, to try and get the news up before anyone else scoops you?).
One of the reasons so-called "hard news" (newspapers and television) is failing miserably lately (a record number of print publications are going under this year) is because of the immediacy offered in internet news and reporting. Bloggers exemplify this immediacy and their importance is seen daily by the amount of people that now rely on them for their news fix everyday in lieu of "traditional" news sources. Unfortunately, a total cock-up like this is what leads to lots of greybearded types knowingly nodding and saying things like "THATS why you can't trust blogs".
For quite a while the entire lure of blogging was "Anyone can blog" (which often leads to the thought, if you read enough of these, "No, NOT anyone can blog") and traditional media outlets contributed to their own downslide with stuff like the almost constant ridiculous scandals at the New York Times (where they make up more news than they report real news). However, the sort of outpouring of grief and sentiment today for Dave....to only be forcefully stopped as dozens of bloggers backtracked all over the place....is the kind of silly tent-show that makes one wonder how this blogging thing expects to ever be taken seriously.
Wacky opinions about Non Weapon Proficiencies, OD&D vs 1E vs 2E, how 3E became the end of D&D as we know it, and whether Monte Cook is a sell-out or not doesn't mean our types don't do serious commentary on serious subjects...I read insightful comments everyday and respect the hell out of many of the bloggers I read (and recommend anyone I have listed on "My Blog List" in that respect). However, these types of fiascos, while understandable, do nothing but undermine any sort of basic tenets we operate under and cheapen anything serious we have to say. Radio, TV and News 101 in high school teaches the first thing you do before running with a story is to get at least THREE confirmations of your story; Now, I took that class almost 30 years ago so I don't know what the procedure is now (one source that's not drunk, in politics, or named "Wikipedia?). But I'm talking about a solid line of bloggers restating something they read on Wikipedia (the most laughable source of information in the history of the internet) or on someone else's blog with ZERO confirmation...please.
Unfortunately the lure of being the "first" causes a lot of us (and a lot of professionals, mind you: Dewey beats Truman, anyone?) to run with a story before going through the proper channels. And despite what this looks like I'm not hammering the one or ones who originally ran the Arneson story (I'm honestly not 100% sure who it was, anyway); I'm actually a bit more annoyed at the legions of others who ran with the story based on this information or something flimsier. Next time someone in our family dies, or doesn't die, can we please make damn sure we know what we are talking about before running with it?
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