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Festival Deaths Are Not A Tool For Clicks

molly mdma drug overdose headlines

We here at Dance Music Northwest are not only lovers of dance music, but also consumers, like you. We get our news from Facebook, Twitter, major news sites, and both local and national music blogs. What we mean is that we probably get our information in a way similar to you. Lately, we’ve been troubled by something that has become common practice by both the general mainstream media and more recently among smaller niche blogs. Deaths at music festivals have been ill-reported, using techniques that are harmful to our scene and the people in it.

What we need is an end to ambulance chasing and click-baiting, especially when loss of life is the topic. We need news outlets to stop posting headlines with the sole hope that it will bring traffic to their site. Not only are these offenders exploiting their audience for profit, but there’s also a lot of misinformation flying around. Reporting assumptions before evidence is available is not unheard of. We’ve all seen a “Young Person Dies At Music Festival From Molly Overdose” headline or twelve this festival season.

That needs to STOP. Especially before the facts are there. No headline should have the words “MDMA overdose” in it until four to six weeks after the autopsy, at which point the toxicology report should be available. The media is supposed to report on facts, not assumptions.

What we need to do is to educate, elevate, and promote change. We have the power to share information through our news outlets, and we can use that power for good or for evil. Too many organizations are opting for the “Misleading-Misinformed-Clickbait-Title [VIDEO]” route. We are blessed that people choose our site as a source for news, and with that comes a certain weight of responsibility. In the past we have been guilty of this practice ourselves, but we vowed a long time ago, “unless it elevates the scene, it doesn’t get published.”

We never want to present you with a problem without proposing a solution, but not everyone in the media thinks this way. It was one thing when it was mostly national and local news organizations, because they are outside of our culture bubble and don’t understand quite like those within the community do. But then members of our own community started using these tactics too, and that’s why we’re getting frustrated. As representatives of the dance music community, we are responsible for presenting information with the added benefit of having an inside perspective.

It is our job to ensure that we are informing, not click-baiting; educating, not exploiting. By news sources within our own sub-culture using these tactics to “report,” it’s doing nothing but reflect badly on dance music as a whole. It’s one thing when you hear from multiple outside sources that Janice is a kleptomaniac. But when you hear it from her sister or best friend, the story is that much more believable.

festival death clickbait

So what should we be doing instead? It’s simple: In the wake of a death at festivals, we should be proposing solutions to keep people safe, not fanning the flames of controversy. No more click-bait, no more assumptions, no more misrepresentation. When a life is lost, we need to have respect for that person and their family, and not use their death as a tool to drive traffic. Our community is worth so much more than the value of a click. We’re calling on you to join us in our mission to educate, elevate, and promote change.

Finally, in an effort to prevent deaths at festivals, please help us to amend legislation in Seattle. We want to implement more harm reduction tools than the current law allows. Our aim is to provide amnesty for pill & powder testing both to the organizations providing the services, and the people using it. Check out our petition, sign it, and share it with your friends. We need to show Seattle’s political leadership that harm reduction, not sensationalist news reporting, is the best way to keep people safe.

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Written By

Hailing from the golden hills of California, Tina lives for sunny days in Seattle. With an expansive taste and hunger for both food and music, she loves all things from Celine Dion to Slipknot (and of course EDM).

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