At ProHipHop, the possibility of Suge Knight's involvement in the assaults at the taping of the 2004 Vibe Awards is a recurring theme invoked most recently with Sunday's arrest of the volatile owner of hip hop label Death Row Records. In searching for news accounts of yesterday's arrest, I was reminded of prior observations regarding the lack of attribution to sources of news in the online hip hop press which I failed to address at the time. But now that Suge's back in the news, a discussion of such issues is again timely.
In addition to news of Suge Knight's arrest, a Google News search for "suge knight" currently returns earlier accounts of rumors that Jimmy James Johnson, the man accused of assaulting Dr. Dre at the Vibe Awards show taping, claimed that Suge Knight paid him to undertake the assault. As previously reported at ProHipHop, this report began at the New York Post based upon one of their "sources". However, having worked it's way through the online hip hop press, the story was picked up by Yahoo! Launch who reported that it came from AllHipHop.com.
I meant to address this issue at the time, because it illuminates the sometimes shoddy standards of online reportage. I have a lot of respect for AllHipHop.com. They do more original reporting than most hip hop news sites and I frequently link to them. However, they are often unclear about the source of their articles and will often bury the fact that it's a wire report or from another publication a few paragraphs down. While that's better than some websites, it makes it appear as if they are doing original reporting and then quoting an additional source.
Let's break it down. The Jimmy James Johnson story was initiated at the New York Post. Examination of the AllHipHop.com version shows that it's a rewrite of the NY Post version, plus some closing lines taken from other services, and was posted a day later. Since AllHipHop.com simply ran Nolan Strong's byline, rather than clarifying that the whole article was from the NY Post, as they should have done by basic and longstanding journalistic practices, some sloppy somebody over at Yahoo! Launch or Yahoo! News took that at face value and attributed it to AllHipHop.com. But the screwup at Yahoo! illuminates worse issues in the online hip hop press.