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Why Posting 'Rumors' Is Sometimes A Good Thing

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So, we took a little heat two days ago from folks here on the blog and from some media people out there for posting a Tweet from NBC Affiliate employee Matt Hoke.

On Wednesday, Hoke Tweeted that he heard Dallas Clark was injured and done for the season. We posted the Tweet, and by doing so contributed to it getting blasted all over the Twitterverse and the Internets. At one point, I had a few people emailing me complaining that I was creating more 'baseless rumors,' as if I were the one who created the Tweet in the first place.

However, because of the focus we helped put on Hoke's Tweet, this forced the media (whose job it is to get us information about the team) to kind of get off their butts and ask a few questions about Dallas Clark's status. Prior to Hoke's Tweet, no one mentioned anything about Clark being significantly hurt during the Redskins game. After Hoke's Tweet, everyone and their mother was asking, 'Is Dallas OK?'

Naturally, because this was tagged as an Internet rumor, the 'established media' dismissed it before actually, you know, investigating it. My favorite Tweet was from someone I actually know, like, and respect; Phil Wilson:

Only rumors about Clark are on here, from people who aren't at the complex, who are speculating. No rumblings in locker room.

Personally, think Phil is one of the more progressive sports reporters out there, embracing key technologies like Twitter and blogs. I really applaud him for this because, from what I know, he doesn't get paid extra to 'Tweet.' But, if there was ever an indictment of media people 'at the complex' not knowing WTF is going on with the Colts, it was this Dallas Clark injury story. When a technical director at an Indianapolis NBC affiliate scoops the media people 'at the complex' on a story of pretty high significance, that doesn't make the media people 'at the complex' look very good.

Just because one is 'at the complex' doesn't mean one is going to be able to get the information readers demand regarding their favorite football team. I say this because, in some circumstances, posting a pretty reliable or seemingly important rumor is appropriate as opposed to sitting on one's hands and waiting for something to develop.

Had Hoke's Tweet not gotten the attention it clearly deserved yesterday (because it turns out Hoke was 100% correct), we might not know until today what Dallas Clark's status was. It might have hit us out of the blue.

Hoke helped to escalate the story. In this case, that was a good thing.

Now, for some people, they personally believe updates of this sort aren't important or appropriate. Why? Beats me. For me, I kinda think injury updates about one of the team's most important players are, you know, VERY important. I don't want to wait for that news to happen at a friggin press conference, or read about it in a newspaper the next day.

I want to know now. And judging by all the Google and Twitter searches people did Wednesday, Thursday, and today on this subject, I'm not alone in my impatience.

Since the Colts are well known for being extremely tight-lipped about injuries, sometimes you're not going to get instant injury information 'at the complex.' Sometimes, the best sources for injury information are people who do not work for the team, or are not associated with them, but overhear something or see something in passing. This seems to be the case with Hoke, who was surprised his Tweet blew up as big as it did.

Back to rumors in general, I sincerely hope people understand where we come from when we post rumors around here. We don't do it to push or peddle false info. We do it for a couple of reasons.

Number one, we're not 'journalists.' We're bloggers. We're up front about that, and we assume you know this coming to our site. We usually tag articles as 'rumor' if we know the news in them is not confirmed. 'Journalists' typically don't dabble in rumor unless, of course, they are addressing it on a companion blog or on Twitter because some other 'blogger' is making a big deal about it. We're solely a blog here with the emphasis on instant information and analysis-opinion on that information. This service we provide is something other media sources (aka, 'journalists') do not do: Report on seemingly credible rumors. Also, as the rumor develops into either a credible story or a bag of soggy crap, we update our articles titles and place new information in the articles to inform our readers as to their current status.

Number two, I think we've posted something like five 'rumors' the last year or so. The one everyone still freaks out about is the 'Peyton Manning is hurt' rumor. It's actually the only anonymous rumor we've ever reported in four years of blogging, and we did so to protect the source. I get, maybe, two or three news tips a week from people asking to remain anonymous. The Manning tip was one of the first ones I ever wrote an article about, and it was because the source, in my estimation, is credible.

From a reader's perspective, I absolutely understand if people do not believe the rumor. Makes total sense to me. However, freaking out about it, or using it as a way to attack this blog and the good work we do here, is something I'm not going to tolerate in the comments. The reason I'm such an ogre about it is a lot of the attacks are unnecessary and do not help push the conversation along.

One that keeps popping up is that we 'made the Manning story up just to get page views.' I personally question the intelligence level of anyone who truly believes that because (in all honesty) how the hell is posting a fake story about Peyton Manning being hurt going to get our blog page views? And even if it did, once it was determined that we supposedly 'made up the story,' don't you think my bosses would, like, fire my sorry ass in a heartbeat?

I mean, seriously. Reporting on rumors is one thing. Blatantly lying is something else entirely.

If you personally feel that what we write is out-and-out lies, I'm sorry but WTF are you doing reading this blog in the first place? Seriously, I don't mean that to be confrontational. I mean this as a seriously question. If you think that little of me or the writers here, if you truly believe what we are about is pushing blatantly false information out there just so we can crank up our hit counter and sit back smoking Cuban cigars with smiles on our faces, no offense but I, personally, am not going to take you seriously.

I didn't start this thing four years ago just so I could toss out false information and get paid gobs of money for doing so. If I was, then I'm doing a pretty crappy job because the gobs of money ain't arrived yet.

Regarding 'page views,' this site had tens of thousands yesterday. The past three days, we've just about tripled our daily page views, and most of that is from people Googling 'Pat McAfee drunk' or 'Dallas Clark hurt.' Stampede Blue doesn't need to peddle rumors to get page views. We could just write opinions articles on the topics of the day, and everything would be fine for the SB Nation people who care about that sort of stuff.

The reason we have reported on (something like) five rumors this year is because we thought they were important enough to discuss on our blog. We wanted to inform you, our readers, as to their existence. There's a reason these things are 'rumors,' and it because people are indeed talking about them behind-the-scenes.

Again, our basic philosophy is people can believe the rumor or not. That's totally cool. Attacking us or insulting us for posting it is a bit over the line. We're a blog. Posting news, opinions, and rumors is kind of what we do.

If you are more interested in just basic 'hard news,' might I suggest another site called SB Nation Indiana. I hear the writing staff over there is pretty good, and the editor there is a handsome devil.

Yes, shameless plug, I admit it.

But, one of the things we do different over there compared with Stampede Blue is provide more 'hard news.' It's more 'just the facts.' SB Nation: Indiana is doing well, in case you care. We're right in the middle of the pack of 21 regional sites, in terms of page views. We're starting to get a strong following, offering yet another alternative way for you to get the sports info you care about.

For Stampede Blue, pretty much every other rumor we've highlighted here is usually one created by someone else. In the case of Dallas Clark's injury, the rumor ends up being true. In the case of Marcus McNeill possibly getting traded to the Colts, it's a bunch of dog doo-doo.

In other cases, we'll throw a rumor up there not because we believe it, but because lots of people are talking about it and we want to let you, our readers, know that lots of people are talking about it. The 'Dallas is hurt' rumor is a good example of that. Yesterday afternoon, I didn't think it was true. Shows you how much I know. Next time, I shan't doubt the excellent injury source that is Matt Hoke.

For the better part of five months, I haven't written much about addressing all the craziness out there about how big and 'relevant' this site has become. I've tried to do it in the comments, or in personal emails back and forth with readers who contact me. I'd say that my success rating in fully addressing all this is somewhere in the 'Totally Screwing This Up' area. This article will hopefully up that rating a bit. It's to let you know where we come from around here, and why we do what we do. We're not in this to just 'get page views.' We do this because we want to get you the information we think you need, and because we care about how our favorite team is covered.

In some cases, this coverage might clash with team management, or local media, or national media, or even with specific players (Robert Mathis, for example). Sometimes, fans might not like what we stand for (like our opinions on Week Sixteen last year). Not everyone likes what we do all of the time. We're cool with that. It would be impossible to try and appease everyone.

I hope this clarifies some things that have been hanging out there. If it all reads like rambling, my apologies.

Because people seem to like complaining talking about rumors, page views, the blog, writing, and other things that often don't pertain to the Colts, I offer up this articles comments as a bit of a free-for-all. If you have something you want to rant about, something you are happy about, unhappy about, confused by, or you want to shoot the breeze about random crap, by all means do so here. It's better done here rather than taking up space on an article about something unrelated.

I'll even lift the terms of use a bit on this article only. If you want to take shots at me personally, vent all your rage directly at me for whatever reason, go ahead. I won't ban you. Just don't compare me to Hitler or anything like that, OK?

To show you that I'm not a completely uptight schmuck, I'll toss up a picture someone made to mock me that, in all honesty, got my wife to laugh out loud when she saw it.


To the Photoshopping Wizard who perfected this masterpiece, you have my respect. When my spouse saw this, the laughing was continuous for a good five minutes. I especially like how my head is roughly twice the size of what it should be for that tiny of a body. Well done, monsieur. Well done.

That said, please use the comments below to yack about whatever. I'll do my best to read them. If commenting is a bit to open for you at this time, email me. I'll keep it confidential if you want, even if it means everyone will hate my guts for doing so.

As always, thanks for reading. Go Colts!