An Important Note About DBD's Editorial Direction & Negativity

This is about "negative" content and my response to criticism directed at the writing staff. Be warned.

Note: We here at DBD think it's important that every reader knows that we always welcome feedback and criticism about anything and everything we write -- within reason. We would do none of this if it weren't for the readers of this site and the community we have here makes what we do incredibly and amazingly rewarding. You can always reach me directly through email (brandon.worley13(at)gmail.com) if you ever wish to discuss anything related to the Dallas Stars or DBD.

This isn't something I would normally do, and something I don't think I've ever done, but at this particular point in time I feel it's important to discuss.

A particular string of comments was brought to my attention this morning, in which the DBD staff were "accused" of not being critical enough and perhaps overly optimistic in our writing -- I say "accused" because it really wasn't an accusation and more of just a statement/request. This seemed to stem from the fact that my recap of a horrible game by the Dallas Stars on Sunday wasn't as negative and critical as a game like that should have been, but also was more than just a one-time comment.

Leaving aside the fact that yesterday was Easter and I just didn't have the time for the proper recap that game deserved, I wanted to address a few things.

This is not calling out the original commenter or attacking any one person. This is a sentiment that comes up nearly every season, it seems, when the team is floundering and readers feel we aren't properly holding the team's feet to the fire in our writing. It just so happens this particular comment finally sparked me to respond directly.

You can find my response here, as well as embedded down below.

I think the first thing that everyone needs to know is that, above all else, every single writer for this site is as die-hard a Dallas Stars fan as you'll find. We live and die with this franchise and if people only knew the conversations that take place in the "writer's room" there's a good chance you would never be able to guess the same group of writers put up the content that DBD produces.

Our mission here is to remain objective and as even-keeled as possible, to create a solid path that follows the long-term and big picture plans of this franchise and does not kneejerk in our overall coverage from game to game. That's the mission.

The readers and the comments section -- that's for the emotional reactions from game to game and the fired-up debate that forms the backbone of our community. We never want to stifle that and we want to create a platform where Stars fans can debate to their heart's content.

In the end, I guess it's been frustrating to me to be called out -- more than a few times, I might add -- as not being as critical as sometimes people want us to be. Which is funny, because we're also accused at times of being too critical. You can't please everyone, and we certainly understand that.

If I had my way, I'd have endless time to write all of the articles, rants and breakdowns that I'd like to publish. Alas, real world obligations and responsibilities hinder the true scope we'd prefer DBD to employ.

This is a tough time for the Dallas Stars fan base, and we're all just trying to do our best to survive a difficult stretch for the franchise.

To be clear, there was no offense taken by any of the comments that sparked this post. I did want to get my feelings about the situation out in the open, however, and there are parts of this response that certainly come from a very personal point of view. That's all.

Full response is below. Remember, this response was a bit more off-the-cuff than I would have preferred but I still think it's important to highlight:

"I'm all about accepting criticism for my writing and my editorial decisions, but this is a bit far.

First of all, we've been saying since the beginning of the season to expect a rollercoaster, up and down season that will end in disappointment - especially if fans expected the postseason. I predicted the Stars to miss the playoffs and there are many other writers here that did as well. So, I don't know exactly how that is overly optimistic. Or overly negative.

We've been nothing but realistic since the very beginning. This is playing out exactly like I expected.

Second of all, I've been running DBD since January of 2009. Since that point, the Stars have now missed the postseason in four straight seasons and face the possibility of doing it another time around. For four years there has been nothing but negativity and pessimism around this team and this blog and at times it has been stifling.

As a Stars fan, I've done my best to offset that pessimism with hope, with a realistic and objective approach to the situation and I've done my best to keep DBD firmly in the middle - you're never as good as you think you are when you're winning and you're never as bad as you think you are when you're losing. We, as a writing staff, react to that rollercoaster from game to game within the season by remaining firmly in the middle.

Frankly, if the readers could be privy to our private conversations and emails about what is going on right now you'd have a much different view of things.

But to call us out - and me specifically - as to whether we "have the balls" to say what we really think - feel free to go elsewhere. If you only like to jump into the comments and debate other Stars fans, that's perfectly fine. But there is absolutely zero value to the comment you and others have made here and frankly - it's absolutely false in the assertion that we are not critical enough.

For one, we get privately accused of being too negative and too pessimistic way more often than we do otherwise. In fact, this entire community has shifted into the overly-negative realm to the point where most of the regulars from three or so years ago has stated they never come around because of the overwhelming sense of negativity that has pervaded DBD the past year or so.

If you go back just a week, I can count a number of articles that are based on "negative" aspects of this situation. What you will not find are articles that constantly berate the team, that berate the front office and basically take up the attacks on the players and the team that you see elsewhere - in the comments, on other blogs, wherever.

See, we like to take a bit more of a professional approach to things. We are certainly capable of being negative and exceptionally critical - but that criticism has to have a quantifiable background to justify what is being written. It's called "backing up your words" and it's something we try to do our best with - to me, there is no value in just ranting and raving about my frustrations with the team from game to game if I can't point out what is going wrong and what could be done to fix it.

And right now, a lot of what is going wrong is a) the same thing over and over again and b) has a lot to do with coaching and the overall system that is in place.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Brad and I as Managing Editors is to set the creative and editorial direction of this site from day to day and from game to game. There is no value in writing the same things over and over again and frankly that's what this season feels like we've been doing. How many times can we write the same thing again and again? Right now, we're just sort of biding our time until the trade deadline and then waiting to see what happens from there.

There are times when I'll unleash with a nice little rant and get my frustrations out; through our surveys, through reader feedback and from peer feedback I've found those articles are generally not very well received. So, history tells me these types of articles are not very valuable to us overall.

Perhaps we're just tied too closely into the big picture. Perhaps we've always viewed this season as nothing more than a true "transition" season; personally, I'm not getting too caught up into the day-to-day aspect of a team I don't believe will look anything like what we'll see on the ice next season. I think we're still in the middle of drastic changes for the franchise and there's absolutely no use is getting caught up in the minutiae of a season and being jerked back and forth on the front page when the Stars play a good game (Friday night) followed by another clunker (Sunday).

Instead, we're following the season as a whole and the big picture. And the big picture says "don't expect a whole lot right now, they're still working on the future."

So we look to the future and we stay optimistic and hopeful about it. Because what else is there for us to do at this point, other than to sit on our hands and rock back and forth as we're overcome with just how frustrating this all is?

That's not to say that the commenters and readers should not be negative or pessimistic with the comments and conversations, as much as long-time readers may dislike. I've even defended the comments and the DBD readers and their "right" to be negative this season to those that wish for nothing but sunshine and lollipops and waxing poetic about how great Brenden Dillon's hair might be.

So, I don't know what else there is to say. I'm proud of the editorial direction of DBD and I feel that our presentation of our content is some of the more objective and even-handed there is - at least that's the goal. When the team is crashing and burning that's going to come across as "too optimistic" and when the team is flying that is going come across as "too negative" - we've been accused of sitting at both ends of the spectrum more than a few times in the past four years.

So, feel free to our completely free-to-use website and platform and our content - produced in the few hours we might find in our free time around real jobs and families - and feel free to offer criticism on anything we might produce.

But to question our integrity or whether we "have the balls" to publish our opinion - that's just too far."

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