THE OLD DAYS when journalists and newspaper policy decided who got themselves named and shamed are a thing of the past, thanks to blogging.
According to the Online Journalism Review, it is becoming harder for hacks, for what ever reason, to keep names suppressed.
Bloggers are uncovering all the holes left in copy by hacks and printing them on their sites.
The article cites the case where a newspaper decided to suppress the name of a woman who pretended to be a teen boy on Myspace and insulted teen Megan Meier. Maier subsequently killed herself.
A local paper, the St. Charles Journal, told the yarn about how the woman was the mother of a former friend of Meier's. Apparently, she went on the social networking site to protect her daughter from what she thought was bullying from Meier.
The paper refused to name and shame the mother. Bloggers on the other hand had no such compulsion and went into over-drive to find the woman and out her.
A blogger called Jezebel soon uncovered the woman's name, address, phone number and business registration records and plastered them all over the Web.
Of course this will not work where a court has ordered the suppression of a name. It would be a brave blogger who tries to go against a wigged one and a court order.
The OJR said that it was once possible for a hack to decide whether something should be made public on the basis that it might stop a local lynch mob. Now, it seems that hacks have to name and shame or risk inflaming the lynch mob even further. µ
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