At what point is it official?

From time to time, when recent group changes are discussed, people come down hard on blogs like this one that report news before the press release comes out. They use harsh words against both the story and its messenger, including “rumor” and “gossip.”

I most certainly do not engage in gossip, and even more especially in this forum. I hear things once in a while which are not for repeating on a public forum, and I most certainly do not repeat them.

But the “rumor” is a touchier business. Some people would have you believe that a story is a rumor until an official press release comes out. Some website owners from various websites even take it a step farther and say that it is not official until it is in a press release posted on their website.

However, I have a different standard. When Brian Free confirms in an email that Keith Plott is leaving the group, or Bryan Hutson confirms that he’s returning to the Kingsmen, then those changes are no longer rumor. [EDIT, 11/7/10: Regrettably, the link is broken, so it has been removed.]

Is it completely official at that point? Probably not. Groups often wait to send a press release until they find a replacement, sometimes two months later. And to top it off, once they find a replacement, they often wait a month or two to make sure the replacement works out before sending out a press release. It’s not unheard of to wait three months or more for an official press release. Until that point, I am content to take the word of either the singer involved or the manager of the group involved.

Once the singer or group manager of the group (or, in certain cases, either group) involved has confirmed a departure, it is no longer a rumor. To call it a rumor (or, worse, “gossip”) after that point is a reflection on the person who obtained the confirmation, more or less questioning that they are telling the truth when they say that the person involved confirmed the story.

Even before the Internet age, reporters who wanted to confirm a story would seek confirmation from the persons involved. Many of the biggest stories in American (and World) History were written without a press release. In this Internet age, it is no different. You don’t have to have a press release to have a story, especially if you can confirm it from other reliable sources.

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4 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Yes, I know. I have held off on one or two stories that would have been big ones for that very reason.

    For example, I heard the rumor that Rodney Griffin was coming off the road probably 10 days before the Averyfineline blog mentioned it. But I kept quiet on the story, both initially and after I emailed a few full-time performers on the SG circuit and found out that he had decided to stay on.

  2. Daniel,
    It’s official once the decision is made. This really has nothing to do with when a press release is ultimately issued, because some groups never get around to issuing a press release and some groups issue misleading press releases when they do finally have something to say.

    You may roll the dice at times and report something that might happen in the near future. If it doesn’t happen, then you were engaging in rumor and speculation. If it does, you had a source that was telling you the truth.

    The danger comes when a decision is made, the parties involved tell a few people, and then change their minds.

    This has happened before, and will happen again. If you and I report such a story, then it’s us who ends up looking bad, even if we were honestly reporting something someone honestly planned to do, but then changed their minds.

  3. First – I don’t know of any website that refuses to say it’s official until they post the news. That’s ridiculous.

    Second – David has it right. It’s not about waiting on a press release, but it’s about waiting on when the GROUP is ready to make an announcement and make it official. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to believe third party individuals talking about an “email” they got. There’s not verifying whether that person actually talked to the parties involved or not.

    I know for a fact that SGN knows the true facts behind some of the speculation – but is staying quiet because the parties involved have asked them to. It’s a matter of respecting people and letting them announce it when they are ready.

    It has nothing to do with an official press release.

  4. All the artists and eager fans have a responsibility to do what is right.
    Artists have a agreement with the owner of the group and should work with the owner on time tables, not the eager fans that run with hot stories.
    It becomes open season once it hits the message boards or web sites with the source of information.
    A artists who give you hot information should be ask by the listener if it is okay to post the contents on the internet or even repeated to someone else who can add to story unintentionally.
    The words “reliable or unnamed sources” has no place in southern gospel music.
    But on the other hand, maybe the some owners wants the news to leak out to create suspense and additional publicity.
    Why kill thye story with a quick response?
    But if you goingto run with the story, at least. get the fact correct, get the source and spell the artist or group name right