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Let's Have a Real Conversation

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I know this is supposed to be a column about the music business, but this time I'm gonna change it up a bit because there's something that's been on my mind lately that's got me stumped. Maybe all y'all who write comments on this blog can help me understand:

Since when did some random statement cooked up by people in the news media and the blogosphere start trumping words from the horse's mouth? Since when did MediaTakeOut become the voice of authority?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a guy who complains about media coverage, usually. People in this business who say they don't want to be famous or talked about are basically full of shit. I know this, because I have artists I'm working with now who get all bent out of shape when they're not recognized in the street or in a club. For years I wanted more props in newspapers and magazines, and I wasn't fond of feeling overlooked. So when someone attacks me in the media I more or less accept it as the price of fame. As long as it's just me who's being targeted and not the people I love, it's cool. I get over it.

But what's crazy to me is how stories go around in this media echo chamber of blogs, entertainment shows, tabloids and even regular newspapers that are twisted or dead wrong. One person writes something with no basis in fact, then everyone just repeats it as if it was fact, over and over again until no one questions it, even when they've already heard the full and correct story from the person they are writing about! It's like the horse's mouth has become irrelevant!

I could give you dozens of examples where that's happened in my life. But what scares me most is the hurt this kind of mindless misinformation can inflict on a whole community or movement. Take for instance the way the anchor lady on a local news channel called a drug dealer a hip-hop entrepreneur. Say what? Like you can draw a comparison between what drug dealers do, and what I do? But that became the standard description every time you saw a report about that case on the news. I am a hip-hop entrepreneur and there's no way you should get the two things mixed up.

Because that newscaster made her big, sweeping statement like it was fact, the description caught on. Next thing you know, hip hop and drug dealers become one and the same thing in people's minds. People hear something often enough and, to them, it becomes the truth. No one questions it. It's partly this kind of bad journalism that's where hip hop is getting its f***ed up name from!

It seems things have spun out of control in the last few years. I don't remember it being like this ten years ago. If the National Enquirer had a story, no one believed it. But now you'll see it picked up by blogs and newspapers all over the world. Sometimes that rag has a better chance of getting the story right than so-called respectable media outlets. Is it because we have news 24/7 and millions of websites trying to get the news first that the media doesn't care about the truth anymore?

I guess with so much noise out there everyone tries to scream the loudest and be the first to put out the story without checking the facts. I guess if the White House press guy can pass off lie after lie to Fox News and CNN and all the major networks, and get away with it, we can't expect the entertainment media to get their stories right.

Basically any journalist who asks me a question is gonna get a straight answer from me. I don't care. I got nothin' to hide. For three years now I've been telling people me and Janet are not married, or engaged. (If we were married believe me I'd have no problem telling people, and you'd hear about it anyway because the wedding reception would be the party of the century!) But it's like nobody's listening, because EVERY TIME I walk the red carpet reporters ask me the same questions: "Are you married yet?" or, "When's the wedding?" It's kinda funny, but it's also retarded.

When Page Six ran that story about my book Young, Rich and Dangerous, they added their own lil' spin to something I said and ran with it. When I saw the story I had to laugh about it. After all it was the New York Post, so it was pretty much what you'd expect. But then that story went all over the place. The blogs repeated it exactly as it was in Page Six.

No one bothered to pick up my book, turn to the correct page, and actually read that passage to check the quote. How hard can that be? Since when did newspapers start hiring people who didn't give a f*** enough to read the real source? Apparently it was too much work, since supposedly trustworthy newspapers ran stories that were totally inaccurate. It even made the Times of India! The media world has gotten so viral, that bullshit just spreads, and spreads and spreads!

The whole mess got me thinking about the bigger picture and wondering whether y'all are as worried as I am about what's been going down in the media world lately. It's also why I'm glad to have platforms like this HuffPost blog and I want people to hear what's up directly from me, the horse's mouth. As consumers of news we need to take back some credibility in life.

In my own small way I'll do my part by giving you, the readers, my own raw, uncut truth. That's why I wrote my life story, and that's why I write this column. I can't help it when people cut and paste my words to their own sites and take my thoughts out of context. I know there are always gonna be some people who don't want to hear the whole message. That's what happened with my last post and it'll probably happen with this one too. But at least now you're gonna know where to look.

Right here and right now we can have a conversation that's real.

Jermaine Dupri, who was named the most successful R&B producer of all time by the Guinness World Records 2007, is a Grammy-award winning music producer, president of Island Urban Records and author of Young, Rich and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul (Atria, October 2007). For more information about this blogger, click here.