On Being a Publisher… the story ViralRead.com couldn’t publish

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I’m not sure what obligations a publisher has to the public, but I’m sure they exist.  And I affirm them.

I’ve lead teams and managed folks since I could walk.  But professionally since I was 19.  It’s a gift and a burden — nothing I’ve earned, but an honor nonetheless.  I’ve also been publishing content now for years.  I’ve passed up on stories and tips but never had to invest time, resources, and people into a story just to end up doing what I did tonight.

A trusted source, a credible person called me with a tip a week ago.  I sat on it for three days before casually bringing it up with my top editors at ViralRead.com.  They jumped at the chance to publish this clearly newsworthy item.

It was greenlighted and several of our top writers began working and researching the tip.

It’s scandal.  It has all the juicy stuff.  There’s a big tea party organization, salacious allegations, a pay off and further corruption.

We talked to a half dozen sources familiar with the characters caught up in this drama.

Many good folks around the country know that I was pivotal in the beginning of the tea party movement.  I helped organize the main hub which assisted in 81 cities organizing, with over 1.5 million Americans participating.  It is America’s most successful protest by any objective measurement.  I’m also a huge advocate for transparency. I say all this to say, I want to publish the story.  My heart says I have a moral obligation to throw this grenade and see where it lands.

Alas, that is not the relevant role here.  I’m the Publisher of ViralRead.  I owe something to the public.  A named source, documentation, something… more.

My head says being a leader has tests such as this.  I will rise to the occasion. Disgusted and a little demoralized, I’ll keep keeping on.

We rewrote the story three times.  Dozens of edits.  It just never got to a point where I said, “this is a fine piece of journalism.”  I sought counsel from wiser men than I.  I got advice, rewrote the lede, restructured the article.

Then the glow of my 27” iMac and the approaching midnight hour hit me.  I’m not ready.  I cannot authorize the publication of this story.

ViralRead won’t belong to either political party or subscribe to an ideology.  We want to do news in a fun, snarky, and timely way.  Occasionally, we want to do real fine works of journalism.  The team of more than 30 writers, editors, and managers I’ve assembled will keep doing what they are now, innovative content creation.

If that something more steps forward, we’ll begin doing what ViralRead is being built to do… news.

For now, the story has been deleted.  I have a copy and a few other trusted colleagues.