Shocking news this morning …

Turns out that Dale Duhl’s enthusiasm for “concept” music videos is more than just musical: As I suspected reading his most recent article, Duhl and a guy named Jimmy Tarburton have a video and audio production company, Three Hills Music, which among other things specializes in … you guessed it, concept videos. Notice, too, the relationship to Sunday Edition (the Unthanks’ group, which uses Three Hills’ recording studios and is, according to the Three Hills site, “set to release first album in 30 years” - the website treats this like a compliment), and thus to sogospelnews.com. No wonder Deon Unthank and sogospelnews staffer Scott Bandy heaped such effusive praise on Duhl’s idea. I’m not naïve enough to think that a sg “news” outlet would bother with the pesky and vexatious ethical guidelines that journalists usually try to keep in mind (like, say, it’s probably a bad idea to treat something like “news” or a “feature” when it’s actually an unpaid advertisement for some guy’s production company). What’s really disconcerting, though, is that sg media (and it’s not just sogospelnews … SN is just as bad) make no attempt to put all the cards on the table. For instance, the Dale Duhl article gives no indication that Duhl’s opinion might be the teensiest bit colored by his financial and business interests. I mean, are we to believe it’s a total coincidence that Duhl owns a music video production company and thinks concept music videos are the wave of the future (and please don’t say the only people qualified to talk about innovations in music recording are people who own recording studios and production companies)? Maybe we are supposed to think it’s a coincidence, since evidently we’re also supposed to believe that four of the top eight breaking news stories in sg right now involve people or groups having recently signed deals with Southern Spin, another outfit owned by an Unthank. I’m not surprised that the Unthanks or the Kirskeys or Maurice Templeton or whoever would rely on people they do business with to generate content for their publications, but is it too much to ask that they be open and honestly transparent about the context for a person’s comments? I doubt anyone’s trying to hide anything. But it’s not enough to justify this kind of opacity by saying “well, I would tell you if you ask” or “nobody’s got anything to hide,” because A)the average reader shouldn’t have to (and probably doesn’t) automatically suspect some kind of ethical compromise or conflict of interest when they read something like Duhl’s article, (nor do I think it’s safe to assume that a first-time reader to sogospelnews would know what and who this Southern Spin thing is that’s so much in the sogospelnews headlines, though I do admit that it’d take a lot of gullibility for someone to look at the current news headlines on the sogospelnews homepage and not suspect something) and B)publications (ought to) have a responsibility to be proactively candid. The onus should not be on readers to sleuth out all the unstated relationships and alliances that swirl about “the news.”

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