If you were following entertainment news in Brandon on Thursday, you got a bit of an insider’s peek into what life in a newsroom is like.
Reporters at the Brandon Sun learned early Thursday morning that rock megagroup KISS might be on their way to Brandon.
KISS? In our little city?
It appeared to be true — Gene Simmons had posted a list of tour dates on his site, and Brandon was right there, July 18.
Normally, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But when the leader of a rock band says that the rock band is coming, what higher source can you cite?
Still, as reports began to filter out on social media (Brandon is home to some very excitable KISS fans), we worked to find independent confirmation.
Then Winnipeg’s Metro newspaper posted a story on their website, saying that KISS would be coming to Winnipeg and to Brandon, based on the same Gene Simmons list.
At about the same time, we managed to find a music festival in Wisconsin that was advertising an appearance by KISS. Rock Fest in Cadott, Wis., says KISS will be playing a gig there on July 20, two days after the supposed Brandon show, and a date that matched up with a non-existent “Cadot, MB” that appeared on Simmons’ site.
As the Metro story began to grow like wildfire online, we decided that the Cadot/Cadott show confirmed the general legitimacy of the list.
So, at about 8:45 a.m., we posted a short, six-paragraph story that told what we knew, and importantly, how we knew it.
“Brandon might be getting another large rock show,” we wrote. “A list of concert dates posted to KISS frontman Gene Simmon’s website includes Brandon as a July 18 stop.”
We were careful to indicate that it wasn’t a for-sure thing.
“There’s no confirmation of the date,” we wrote, “although the list links to the official KISS website, that site doesn’t show tour dates past June.”
In retrospect, our headline to the story was a little strong: “Gene Simmons and crew coming to give Brandon a KISS” would have been better with a question mark at the end. We were more careful in our posting to Facebook and Twitter, when we said “Tour list shows KISS in Brandon this July.”
As dozens of people commented, shared and retweeted our original story, we continued to work the local angle.
The obvious locale for such a big show would be the Keystone Centre. But Keystone general manager Neil Thomson told us point-blank that he had “nothing to report on KISS.”
No other promoters or concert locations we contacted had information, either. Tour industry websites began to come up blank.
All the other reports of Canadian KISS concerts seemed to be based on that same, singular list from Simmons’ website.
And then, mid-afternoon, the rumour was given the KISS of death: the list was altered on Simmons’ site and anything past June was scrubbed off.
Immediately, we put up a new story, saying that our local reporting had been unable to turn up anything and noting that Simmons’ list had been withdrawn. We also updated the original story as well as our original Facebook post.
With acts like the Tragically Hip and Heart passing through Brandon, a show from KISS isn’t out of the question, and we still think it’s possible that the band may have been pencilled in — but not confirmed — by someone.
In the meantime, though, our online readers got to see a story unfold as it developed.
As more news breaks first online, our readers rightly demand that we report it as quickly as possible. But it can be tricky to balance our need to be accurate with our need to be current.
Aside from this editorial, nothing about KISS appeared in the print edition. A newspaper, printing once per day, has the benefit of time. That’s an advantage when we need to work both sides of a story, wait for consequences to unfold, or confirm a rumour.
In the online world, our advantage is speed. Unfortunately, those two advantages are mutually incompatible. The fastest information is never the best information.
Luckily, online information can be added to — or subtracted from — just as quickly and easily as it is posted in the first place.
As we continue to bring you the best-possible information as quickly as possible, we’ll also continue trying to strike the best possible balance in our coverage.
But as anyone trying to keep their balance knows, sometimes that means leaning one way before tipping the other.