The Power Of Internet Publication

By TSM

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.

From LA

TSM

You can read about the Oregon blogger here

photo is from here

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alex
alex
June 5, 2012 1:53 am

As someone who went to journalism school and worked on a paid circulation college paper as reporter, columnist and editor, i still seeing blogging, even by people like slate, as not totally real without a print component.

When i started my magazine, all the writing i did on the net didnt feel as real as what we published in our first issue.

I have a feeling the younger heneration may not feel the same way. I grew up with apple iics and trs-80s and only 3 people my freshman year had a computer. The web didnt exist until i was in college and we had to learn how to write html code for mosiac.

While online blogging can be journalistic, im not sure it deserves all iys protections. Too many anonymous trolls out there.

Ami Angelwings
June 5, 2012 5:58 am

This is the 2nd time on PTS this baseball season that somebody called the US news media “the National Media.” Shannon did it a few weeks ago, and Blair did it today (yesterday).

Both of them were referring to how the US media thought so highly of the Jays and both of them used the word “national media” to refer to the US media.

itchy butt
itchy butt
June 5, 2012 6:44 am

Brian Burke doing something untoward? The guy that wanted to rent a barn to fight Kevin Lowe? Say it ain’t so! I thought Burkie’s tears cured cancer?

Another Steve
Another Steve
June 5, 2012 10:30 am

My guess, TSM, is that you would be better to assess whether this has any legal basis. (I think you are a lawyer.)

And I think that the US laws on this matter are likely a bit different than those in Canada.

I don’t know the article that you mention, but if it turns out that the blog in question wrote something that was untrue, then I suppose the person could easily be sued – and, frankly, I think Burke would have the right to sue the person.

Sports often thrive on people’s opinions – who should be hired and fired, the whys, etc. – but there is always a line. If somebody publishes something that defames another person, and something that is flat-out wrong, then the subject should have the ability to turn to the courts.

Again, I don’t know the story in question, but if somebody published something that alleged someone was, for example, showing up to work drunk and engaging in inappropriate conduct at work, then a lawsuit is definitely in order.

One of the huge negatives about blogs and comments on blogs is that people often feel that they can say what they want and that sometimes these are not the kinds of things that we would say in civil society. Hence, we call one another Hitler or pedophiles, or people write racist comments about hockey players, to name a few examples. Once again, I don’t know the story, but I like the idea of someone suing if that person feels he has been defamed in any way.

I hardly think a court would listen to a case that was about a blog that is critical of his team’s performance.

Arnold
Arnold
June 5, 2012 12:32 pm

Why write in the article that someone will most likely post the link in the comments if you will not approve it?

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 5, 2012 3:09 pm

i’m not sure why posting the link is such a big deal. if she/he is about to be sued into oblivion then the meager ad revenue from web-hits will be a drop in the bucket. before you click, it’s worth noting that the article is devoid of actual content.

http://bluetoro.ca/2012/06/03/brian-burke-to-be-relieved-of-his-functions-as-toronto-maple-leafs-gm-and-president/#comments

Bob Canuck
Bob Canuck
June 6, 2012 11:55 am

A few thoughts about this episode.

1. Bob McKenzie acted appropriately by limiting his comments to whether or not Brian Burke was going to be fired shortly. He did not mention other aspects of the rumour.

2. Steve Simmons’ needlessly and illogically noted that Brian Burke is allegedly having marital issues. If marital problems are “none of our business”, why mention it all?

3. The blogger in question has issued an apology to Brian Burke. If I were Brian Burke, I would consider the apology to be incomplete: the rumour spread by the blogger included aspects beyond the employment status of Brian Burke. http://bluetoro.ca/2012/06/06/update-apology-to-mr-brian-burke-for-false-rumors/

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