Nine times out of ten, much of the research that I do for a book is conducted online. Part of the reason for this is that I am often writing about current topics for teens. When I wrote my books, there were few if any books available on the Zika Virus, Black Lives Matter or the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This means that I have to find accurate information online. Some of what I find has been published in journals or various news sources. Other material comes from scientific blogs and sites.
But when I was researching this book on The Who, where I found things changed. Sure, I could find plenty of sites and posts but many were fans posts, music recordings and public appearances.
For information on what it was like to be in this band when it was new, I had to find interviews and other pieces by and about the band members. This time I turned to published books. Some of what I used were a bit older, including one published in Britain. Others were newer and these includes memoirs by Townsend and Daltry.
Sure, I could have gone with newspaper stories but I have to say that newspaper stories about celebrities tend to be pretty sensational. Are they accurate? Maybe. But often they are not. And they also often cover information that I’m not going to include. Sure, I made it clear that there were parties and punches thrown, alcohol and drugs, but it wasn’t the focus of my book so only so much was included.
Is this self-censorship? No.
The reality is that even when you are writing 14,000 words, you cannot include every bit of information. You have to consider the story that you are framing and include only the material that completes this particular story.
Don’t ignore online sources just because someone you know disparages them. But do know how to fine a wide variety of sources. You never know where what you need will be found.