The Fort Worth music scene is highly amused. And maybe overreacting a bit.
Earlier today, Pegasus News, a Dallas-centric online news outlet, reprinted a story that originally appeared in a recent edition of TCU 360, a student magazine, about a purported lack of an indie-music scene in Fort Worth. An interesting subject, sure, but one based wholly on fiction. Fort Worth not only has an indie-music scene but has probably the best indie-music scene in Texas if not the entire Southwest. That student journalist Taylor Prater’s story is so divorced from reality and that the editors at TCU 360 –– and, worse, Pegasus News, a well-funded organization –– allowed the story to be published/reprinted has Fort Worth musos and their fans tearing up the story’s comments section and The Facebook.
The reactions range from shock and disbelief to amusement and pity. The unfortunate victim of most of the abuse is young Prater, who does not deserve any of the vitriol directed her way. If commenters want to be mad at anyone, they should direct their barbs at TCU 360 and Pegasus News.
Even people who’ve never studied or practiced journalism know that writers play only one part of the news game. Before any story goes to print, it has to pass an editor, a copy-editor, and, hopefully, a proofreader. The real story is that no one in authority at either TCU 360 or Pegasus News paused to send Prater back to the shed.
And you don’t need to be a Fort Worth scenster or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to see the story’s glaringly numerous faults. “Fort Worth’s music scene needs an indie makeover, residents say” is based not on “residents” but a single resident, a double-major at TCU who sees shows only in Dallas. A single-sourced story is OK for a small news item or a short profile but not for a trend piece. Even sourcing 20 people often doesn’t lead to an indication of a trend. One person sure as heck doesn’t.
And at least one editor at TCU 360 and Pegasus News has to have at least driven through Fort Worth at some point over the past 20 years. There’s more to our fair city than the Stockyards, Bass Performance Hall, and Amon G. Carter Stadium. In her story, Prater mentions several Dallas venues but only one Fort Worth joint, Ridglea Theater, a historic Westside building that hasn’t been relevant in five years and probably won’t be relevant for another five. A quick drive through the Fort or glance at the Weekly, Fort Live, or DFW.com will reveal a ton of indie-music-friendly venues, including Lola’s Saloon, The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, Magnolia Motor Lounge, The Grotto, The Basement Bar, The Cellar, The Wild Rooster, and Fred’s Texas Café, among others. Fort Worth also is lousy with events: Friday on the Green, Fort Worth Music Festival, Rockin’ the River, and our Fort Worth Weekly Music Festival, now in its 11th year, a free daylong concert in eight West 7th-located venues with nearly 50 bands –– and all of them are from Fort Worth.
And none of them –– Burning Hotels, Calhoun, Telegraph Canyon, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Pinkish Black, Josh Weathers, The Orbans –– is mentioned in a story about their scene.
As of this writing Prater’s piece has already received 508 Facebook likes. You know Pegasus News is loving the traffic. The news blog’s credibility among Fort Worth music lovers may be (should be) completely shot and a young student writer may be contemplating giving up journalism –– or worse –– based on the attacks in the comments section directed toward her, but, hey. Gotta get those click-throughs, right, Pegasus News?
A shame. What Pegasus News does not understand is that commenters have way more destructive power than they can even begin to realize. Every little nasty thing uttered online has the ability to transform even the toughest veneer of self-esteem into nebulous self-loathing. From someone who’s been called every name in the book online, I can tell you that what commenters say –– no matter how small, erroneously based, or flat-out ignorant –– doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other. That negativity sticks to you. You take it personally. It hurts.
And I’m a 40-year-old grown-ass man. Prater is just a kid.