Sorry to have been away so long, and I promise to post more frequently in the new year. Today, I want to write a bit about the reaction to my last post, detailing my discovery of the 149 Bob Dylan Houston Street Studios Acetates.
I assumed this would be a big story in the Dylan collecting community, but was astounded at the overwhelming reaction from the mainstream media. Before writing about the acetates here, I spent a few months documenting and transferring the music with the help of two friends. When I finally wrote about the discovery in June, I was incredulous when the very next day it showed up on the front page of RollingStone.com. Even more surprising is that the Rolling Stone writer hadn’t reached out to me, but instead simply paraphrased my blog post. I know some of the writers there, and it would have been extremely easy for them to have contacted me. In the past, at the very least Rolling Stone would have a fact checker call to verify all the information. But in today’s instant media age, they just went with it. Everybody wants to be the first on a story.
The next morning, I was contacted by a reporter at The Wall Street Journal for a short phone interview about the discovery. Soon the floodgates opened–it went viral. In all probably 100 newspapers, blogs, and other media outlets around the world published the story, including The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, The Guardian, and Billboard. In almost every case, they simply rewrote my blog post and copied the acetate photos from my blog. I think the only people who actually spoke to me about the story were reporters from the Journal, Daily News and The New York Times.
I’m writing about this, because it blew my mind how the internet has changed the way a story is reported. I’ve done many interviews over the past 35 years, as a record company executive, music historian, and collector. But I’ve never, ever experienced anything like this–reporters, en masse, simply re-writing a blog post, with no fact checking or any attempt made to contact the author.
A few weeks after the media frenzy died down, it dawned on me–I could have made this whole thing up, and nobody would have been the wiser. Of course I didn’t; the whole thing is true. But probably 100 newspapers, websites and magazines for the most part just went with a story on a blog that sounded true. It does go to show, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet–or in a newspaper. (Happily, though, you can believe everything you read here.)
A few of the Houston Street Studios Acetates are available at Recordmecca.
January 29, 2015