Tabletop Wire received some criticism for our article detailing the sexual abuse allegations against JR Honeycutt.
I thought I would address some of the major concerns people had, and more importantly explain why I made the decisions to run the story that we did.
First, some people questioned whether this story was even news. Our mission is to write about the tabletop industry. Stories that make it to our site must impact the tabletop industry in some way.
This story met that threshold when several prominent companies and industry people announced publicly that they were severing ties with Honeycutt. Yes, it is a tragic and somewhat personal thing, but it is still news for our audience.
We would not have published this if it was a rumor, or if it had been posted on a private social media post. Our charge is not to write about the personal lives of people in the industry. But, sometimes personal lives make an impact on the industry.
We collected the public statements of participants in the story and published them. We did then, and still do, think this was a story our audience deserved to read about.
To that extent, several people scolded us for “profiting off the pain of others.” This was the most disheartening criticism to hear. Tabletop Wire has been delivering informative stories about the tabletop industry for more than a year now.
We did not find any joy in writing this article. And we most certainly did not just write it for clicks or money. We wrote this article because we wanted to inform our audience of an important event that happen that day.
I think our article history over the last year shows that to be our true intent. If we wanted to profit off of tragedy or pain, you would see a different type of archive than we have.
The truth is, sometimes the news is going to be good, exciting and fun, and other times it’s going to be painful and bad. Yes, we could make more money writing about the bad, but our business model is about being an honest and independent news source for the tabletop industry.
We have also been called ‘unethical’ by several members of the industry for writing this story. This is the charge that we are most looking into. While we may have made some mistakes, I think calling us unethical is a bit much. Here’s why.
Yes, we did not contact Victoria Mann or JR Honeycutt for our story. One of the main tenants of good journalism is original sources. You should make every effort to make the call, no matter the result. And we didn’t.
Despite this, we did verify the original sources we did use. We verified that the victim had actually posted the allegations. We also verified that the companies and people we mentioned in the story had actually posted their comments.
At the time, we didn’t think contacting Mann or Honeycutt would add to the story. Our story was about the distancing of the industry from JR. We were putting together a quick summary of what had happen for our readers.
This is not new for us. You will find many of our stories that have had zero contact with the companies or people we write about in our stories. Some of this is a nature of the stories we write, and some of it is just the lack of resources to do that kind of journalism.
Does that make it okay to not have contacted the people in this story? No. We should have at least tried to reach out to them. Does it make us unethical? I don’t think so.
We feel our story was accurate and fair without direct contact. The victim had publicly stated the allegations. We didn’t add or fabricate anything. We didn’t report any rumors or innuendo. We verified everything we put in the story.
Will we be changing how handle this situation in the future? Of course. I think we are always growing and trying to do better. We appreciate the feedback and will continue to seek it out. I also suspect we will be seeing other stories like this in the future. We will do our best to assess them as they come.
We did make a correction to the story. We added that Mann was an industry professional. It was an oversight and we publicly corrected it. It was not intentional in anyway.
I know we have lost some readers over this, and I understand. If you are still with us, let me assure you we are listening to your feedback. We will try to address things as they come it. That said, we will continue to share stories like this one to the industry.