An Open Letter Regarding Our Premature Reports of Dio's Death
Band Photo: Black Sabbath (?)
On Sunday morning, May 16th at 2:20 AM ET, two of our staff reported that Ronnie James Dio had passed away. These reports turned out to be premature and at the time false, said to be a “viral hoax” by many. Many readers expressed outrage and disappointment that we would post such unfounded news, and I am here to offer my apologies for the unfounded reports and make clear our official stance on such tricky situations.
As I've stated before, it's a narrow line to walk between reporting the news in a timely manner and assuring its credibility when it comes to certain situations such as this one. But in a case such as the death of an icon and hero to many, we should have erred on the side of caution. On the other hand, I am not opposed to making mention of rumors or unconfirmed reports in the effort to get you news first, as long as those reports are explicitly identified as such. Unfortunately, our late-night reports of Dio's death were posted as unqualified truths, despite being based on unnamed sources, many or few.
Unfortunately, it was not just a viral hoax, but appears to be more of a premature leak as to the graveness of Dio's condition. This fact, that we posted a correction, or the fact that Ronnie James Dio died later this same morning has no impact on the correctness or wrongness of our initial reports, however.
Within minutes of the posting, Metalunderground.com was flooded with visitors and became unstable, making it difficult to properly update the articles or post follow-ups. When I got word that Dio's death had been confirmed, Dio's official web site itself was down due to traffic. Once I confirmed the information, it took me nearly an hour to get the article posted through the server instability and even longer to update the original articles with that information, leading people to then complain that he had passed away and we were saying he hadn't. So despite the initial mistake, we were faced with challenges throughout the day in getting the correct information out to the public even once it was confirmed.
Metalunderground.com has grown tremendously in the past few years and I realize many people trust us to provide accurate and timely news and reporting on the metal scene. I apologize to those of you who feel that your trust was violated by our unconfirmed story of such incredible weight and importance, and I assure you that we are taking steps so that what happened today will be less likely to happen in the future. I cannot claim it will never happen, as there are many factors that play into such a mistake, but we have all learned from today's experience and will do our best to not repeat it.
I am establishing a more formal process for posting breaking and/or sensitive news so that we can convey our message in a more clear and accurate manner in the future. I have never been one for sensationalizing news in the first place, and certainly do not wish to mislead our readers in any way, as building a credible news site has been a priority of mine from day one.
I hope you'll consider our position and this apology in your decision to continue relying on Metalunderground.com for the latest metal news and commentary.
While I feel the sad news of Dio's passing totally eclipses these issues of yesterday, I wanted to address them nonetheless to let our readers know that we take our responsibilities here very seriously and have not simply swept the mistakes under the carpet and ignored those who expressed concern or anger over our initial premature reports.
R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio.
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