As readers of this blog would be aware, I an the editor of the music ezine and community Metal as Fuck, and also partner in the house that publishes it. We want to see MaF become the biggest, most active, and most well recognised music zine on the interwebs; but in so doing want to keep its standards of journalism absolutely top quality. Running it raises questions though: specifically about where one sources one’s news.
There are many sites out there that run millions of news items every month – I’m thinking Blabbermouth and Bravewords as just two of them. We, on the other hand, run maybe three different items per day; sometimes up to ten if it’s really busy in the metal world. We get all of our news from reputable sources: major labels, promoters, distributors.
It occasionally becomes easy to feel inadequate, especially when places like Blabbermouth break really big stories fairly often. Yet even when they do, I am not able to make myself just become a news syndicator.
In one sense, syndicating news from major sites makes a lot of sense, especially in terms of traffic. In order to build and maintain your rates of traffic, you need a high content turn-over, you need quality content, and you need material that people want to see.
No doubt the major stories posted by Blabbermouth and Bravewords constitute material that readers want. They are controversial and therefore get high traffic. In Blabbermouth’s case, particularly, they are seen as the Reuters of metal news. But the question I grapple with every day of the week, is whether syndicating news, from sites that posted it ahead of MaF, waters down a site’s credibility.
Every time I ask myself that question, the answer is “yes”, mainly because I see syndicated news as synonymous with ‘second-hand’ news. Far better, in my opinion, to get official releases from labels, distros and promoters, and post it as soon as it comes in.
The other reason why I choose not to syndicate news from other sites is that it keeps MaF in a position where it has a slightly more unique perspective. If we syndicated news all the time, we would very quickly find ourselves mushed in with every site across the web. It also would make us look just like one of the other millions of ‘indexing’ sites that crawl the web for information and snippets.
This is why our news is fairly unique. We have news items from the major labels, granted. But we also get news from smaller distros, publicists, and labels around the world, who work really hard to get the word out there. You rarely see their releases hitting the web within two days; but we can rest easy in the knowledge that we support the little guys.
While the metal music industry is an enormous beast, there is little point in adding to the white noise of boring news that everybody else runs. While some may consider this a fairly tenuous line of reasoning on which to run a publication, at least we have a line of reasoning. And, perhaps more to the point, it’s a line of reasoning that stands us in good stead for defending (if it ever becomes necessary) the methodology on which the publication is run.