If you’re at all familiar with the never-ending conflict between social justice warriors and the whatever-we’re-gating-today movements then you’ve probably heard the following phrase at some point: “It’s about ethics in journalism.”

On Sunday the news team here at Hipsters of the Coast decided to go ahead and publish their article on Todd Stevens. Ultimately I’m responsible for giving the green light on this sort of breaking news article and that is not a responsibility I take lightly.

Not long after the article went live and started to propagate through the community we received this email:

This wasn’t a unique response. We saw it all over the internet on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, in response to the article we published. Sebastian was the only person to actually take the time to email us directly, so today I want to respond to his concerns directly.

Dear Sebastian,

As journalists, everyone on the news team at Hipsters of the Coast holds themselves to the highest standards of ethical reporting. What you describe as “someone said something” is a gross misrepresentation of the facts behind this story.

As the premier breaking news organization in the MTG community we get a lot of information from different sources. Some of them are anonymous. Some of them are not anonymous to us, but they request anonymity to protect their identity from people who might retaliate against them for providing us with information. Some are okay being transparent about their identity.

There’s a famous bit of wisdom when it comes to journalism. If one source tells you the sun is shining and another source tells you that its raining it isn’t your job to quote both sources, it’s your job to look outside and find out who’s telling the truth.

In this case however there were multiple, many multiple sources, telling us one thing, and no one stepping up to deny the allegations. In fact, there were an incredible number of rumors and “someone said something” pieces of information that we decided not to report because we could not corroborate them with several independent sources.

Which brings us to anonymous sources and a very important distinction: anonymous sources are anonymous to you, the reader, but not to us, the journalist. We know these people and we tend to know them pretty well. In fact we have to know them well enough that we’re willing to put our reputation on the line to report their story on their behalf.

When you attack anonymous sources you’re attacking my reporters. You’re saying, “these reporters have no ethics” and “they just want to get page views.” You are incorrect. In reality, these reporters gave up most of their weekend because the most important thing to them is getting the story right the first time. I believe wholeheartedly that my writers got this story right by sticking to the facts that they could corroborate across multiple sources, across multiple reporters.

When I gave the green light to publish the article I put the reputation of Hipsters of the Coast on the line. My bosses, my staff, and our partners all put their faith in me to make that decision. Our anonymous sources put their faith in me to make that decision. Our readers put their faith in me to make that decision.

This community deserves ethical journalism. All communities do. Hipsters of the Coast will always provide it. We will always protect our sources. We will always do our best to ensure the integrity of our reporting, and issue corrections or retractions when necessary.

Lastly, we will not be bullied. If certain elements in the community want to try to drag our name in the mud because they feel we’re pushing a social agenda they disagree with that’s fine, but we will not stop working tirelessly to bring news stories like this to our readers.

So, Sebastian, next time you’re concerned that we’re reporting “something someone said” I hope you’ll consider, for a moment, that we practice journalism with ethics and respect for every part of the story and everyone affected, and that we are critical with ourselves about only reporting the facts that we can substantiate on our own.

Rich Stein
President & CEO, Hipsters of the Coast, LLC

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