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November 26, 2007

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Ladi

More information about the nearest town's new anti-harassment ordinance is here, explaining the scope of "harassment" and what media it applies to. A PDF of the actual ordinance is available here, from the city's website. An accompanying resolution is here, also in PDF.

Alexandra Kitty

The traditional gate-keepers used to be accused of invading privacy, and yet now they are much more timid in their approach of disseminating information. Fear of lawsuits and advertiser pullout are part of the reasons for the reluctance to divulge certain information.

And unlike bloggers who tend to be green in this area, many editors and journalists have seen the fallout of being completely open with the facts.

But all the same, it's changing landscape -- while journalists continue to hold back -- others with access will not respond in kind.
The gate-keepers have lost their power -- and they have to come to terms with that.

Danny Vice

The naming of Lori Drew has sparked quite a debate indeed. Some major news outlets have chosen to name the perpetrator(s) behind this story such as the New York Times. Some have chosen not to. The mainstream media however has concluded that the blogging community should shoulder the responsibility of first naming the perpetrator behind this story.

The first question I have in this debate is simple. What is new here? Since before the French Revolution, the media has been used to 'out' individuals who's actions seem to bear public relevancy in some way.

Although Lori Drew has not yet been charged in the case of Megan Meier, the media has never required formal charges to be made before running a story. In the case of some journalist like Dan Rather, some media outlets run with stories before even confirming that they're true.

In this particular case, media outlets that have chosen to withhold Lori Drew's identity have done so in consideration of other Drew family members.

I'm wondering if by doing this, the media plans to always withhold the names of interesting persons who outrage the community, if those persons have children. This would certainly be quite a ground-breaking event

Right at this moment, there is a story of a cop who is under investigation in the strange death of one wife and the disappearance of another. The cop in the story has a family, yet the media huddles outside his home relentlessly.

I could go back and list thousands of stories where the media wasted no time in delivering the names and occupations of individuals that were later cleared of any wrong-doing. I've never heard of another instance where the media apologized for naming names.

Don Henley's 'Dirty Laundry' certainly applies well to conduct of most major news outlets.

Lori Drew is a primary subject of the story, she is not a rape victim, and is not a minor. Identifying her breaks no new ground, nor does it deviate from what news outlets do on a daily basis.

I also remind readers that her name and her role in the Megan Meier tragedy were documented as public record. A public record that Lori filed on her own accord. This is a critically important fact in this debate.

News outlets, bloggers and the general public were handed Lori's name and Lori's own self admissions when she herself filed that police report and sought to elevate the entire situation into the public domain.

Had Lori Drew simply acknowledged what she did was wrong, and apologized - the police report that identified her may have never been filed, and the entire situation may have well been kept at the lowest profile.

Will we see the media write about this? Not likely.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com

Bryan Alexander

Great resource, Ladi.

Alexandra, are you seeing any journalists in your work who are shedding the gatekeeper role?

Great post, Danny. Do you think the mainstream media will move generally towards reticence in such cases, knowing the blogosphere will take care of the rest?

Alexandra Kitty

To answer your question, Bryan, far from it. The mindset that journalists hold that coveted power is still deeply entrenched in the profession. The Internet is still pretty much treated as an extension of the outlet's "core" medium, not truly as a separate medium that can do radically different things than the old medium.

There is a resentment and fear news producers have toward the Internet -- bloggers are treated with disdain -- they are seen as not just lesser rivals -- but as pests feasting and scraping from the mainstream media and destroying those golden gates in the process.

I have come to the conclusion that in general, news producers are less loyal to journalism than they are to the particular medium they work for.

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