Back in March, I wrote:
The imitation of another musician's personal style is often considered to be an act of reverence. If the imitation is too close, it may cross over into the realm of plagiarism. But more often than either of these, it is an act of vanity. When John Q. Composer writes a new work that is significantly indebted to a previous one yet is of lesser quality, the most important thing about the new work is that he is the one who created it.
I fear that the same dynamic exists when it comes to blogging about current events. This has been particularly in evidence recently with the seemingly perpetual string of major musical figures passing away.
Certainly writing a blog entry constitutes a certain way of paying respect; the near-total dominance of one story throughout the musico-blogosphere merely reflects how important a musician was to so many people. One the other hand, though, in the case of writers who had little or no personal contact (let alone relationship of any kind) with these musicians outside of admiring their work, it becomes increasingly about oneself (i.e. the blogger) rather than about the musician in question, especially when nearly everyone seems to put everything else on hold in order to give their take on the story. At this point, one is no longer doing everyone else a service by breaking the story because everyone else already knows; what distinguishes one article from the next, then, is who wrote it.
Read a newspaper obit and you get all the pertinent information; then read 15 blogs and you learn very little else about the person, but a hell of a lot about the bloggers. Perhaps a brief mention of the passing and a couple of links would be the most respectful way to go about it; "Here's what so-and-so meant to me" is starting to get old.
Of course, we have all caught ourselves raving to an acquaintance about a piece or a recording as if we had created it, even though we hadn't. It seems to be human nature to, figuratively speaking, take ownership of things that we cherish. It's one thing when the dearly departed is an obscure or unknown figure that could use the exposure. On the other hand, in the case of a real luminary, it's made even more superfluous by the fact that we all feel that same sense of ownership and emotional investment with this person and their work.