It’s amazing how easy it is for anyone to get “published” these days. One can sign up for a Facebook or Twitter account, or any other social media platform, and in less than 5 minutes start to publish to the rest of the world pretty much anything they want.
I started this website with a wordpress hosted site, all i needed literally was an email address and 2 minutes later it was launched. No instructions needed 5 minutes later my first post was up. Add in a few key terms and there was traffic. Not huge but an audience nonetheless.
The main knock by the traditional media against the “blogger” has been how easy it is to write what you want and not have to worry about the consequences. Real writers, the theory goes have not only editors but lawyers who they need to answer to who ensure that what they write has some degree of merit before it appears in print.
We all know the story about hockeybuzz, or other sites that got launched in the hay day, the knock being akin to the legal practice of throwing as many things against the wall as possible hoping that 1 or 2 will stick. It worked then, it works now doesn’t it?
Social media has only made it easier.
The discussion for another day is whether it’s better.
The issue today is what would happen if there was an actual cost.
Last year an Oregon court ruled that a blogger could not be considered a journalist (must be the whole basement thing) however that proved to be a detriment to the blogger. In that case a blogger got sued for defamation and looked to the law for the same protection that journalists receive, called shield laws. The court ruled that the blogger with no background in journalism nor writing for a media outlet couldn’t be considered a journalist and therefore wasn’t protected from the shield laws.
To the best of my knowledge it’s the only case that has gone that far.
The question is what would happen if a blogger wrote a piece about a public figure that wasn’t, lets just say flattering and that as a result that public figure got pissed and sued the blogger. That to me is where it gets interesting.
Why am I writing this?
Well a Toronto area blog today wrote a piece about Brian Burke that’s hardly flattering, predicting that as a result of some unnamed misconduct on Burke’s part will result in his termination shortly after the NHL draft.
The ultimate defence in these matters is truth. If it’s true then the blogger is in the clear.
What if it’s total crap?
We may just very well find out.
Burke seems to be the type of guy who would go after the blogger who wrote such a piece. The hardest part of course would be for Burke to articulate what his damages were, however would that really matter?
No, I am not going to post the link so you can all give someone web traffic for posting the story. I am sure one of you will put it in the comments. It was well publicized today.
I could be crazy, but if this is total BS, and I have no reason to believe it’s anything but, the fiesty, Harvard trained Irishman is exactly the type of person to kick the tires and make someone pay.
Could be interesting.
You can read about the Oregon blogger here
photo is from here