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Friday, December 28, 2012

Right-Wing Bloggers Go After Publisher's Employees/Families For Posting Public Information

Just days after a Gannett-owned newspaper in New York State published an interactive map showing the names and addresses of legal firearm owners within their coverage area, a blogger decided to counter the newspaper's action by creating a map of its own showing the names and addresses of the editors and employees of the newspaper.

The blog, "Talk of the Sound" is gaining notoriety for posting a map of Journal News Employees in the New York Tri-State area in a story titled, Map: Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood? I have to admit that this "retaliatory" media concept is interesting since it merely categorizes and republishes what is already known to be public information, but it could backfire in a big way.

Now you might not believe this but as a blogger going into my seventh year here in Janesville, I've always made it a point to not make politics personal. By that I mean that I've made a promise to myself to avoid publishing family information or personal information about others in a vindictive way. That too is subject to definition but I'd like to think my blog is about policy, principles and ideas with a twist of lemon-lime humor. Names that do appear in my blog postings have either been published earlier as part of a mainstream story elsewhere or are public officials. As a courtesy, I've even avoided publishing names of many local folks simply to keep search engines off the trail.

But now, considering that so-called "conservatives" on Twitter are willing to include the children of Gannett's CEO for some twisted personal satisfaction, it leaves me wondering just how incredibly soft we in Wisconsin are towards newspapers that reframe public information and stories on law-abiding citizens for their own profit or political agenda, and also the Tea Party goons who keep online data bases of the recall petition signers.

As recently put it in their story on the NY gun license publishing, ...Naturally, their own argument must be turned right back upon them, and, There was one reason publish the names and addresses ...intimidation. The paper meant to scare these law abiding citizens. It was nothing but a bullying tactic. Of course their perception becomes justification to employ the same tactic they consider "bullying" against the publisher.

But that "bullying" is exactly how we've felt all along in Wisconsin about the bogus "verify the recall" data bases. Pure intimidation to scare law-abiding citizens from participating in democracy then or later. Even though it still lingers on in Wisconsin, the victims of the verify witch hunt have remained relatively civil by comparison.

With that, I for one will be watching closely how Gannett newspapers react to this "counter-strike" from the right-wing bloggers and also to see how state legislators from around the country will move to change the parameters of state statute freedom of information requests, if at all.

I did not agree with the newspaper posting a data base of the names and addresses of law-abiding state licensees, but just the same if this aggressive "turn-around" tactic succeeds in its mission to neutralize the establishment media, I would expect these retaliatory strikes to escalate as the new offensive against perceived wrongs and become a vicious new normal in social media publishing. It won't be pretty.

Keep your eyes on this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Publishing the personal details of gun owners was the same. Why does the Democrat not like it when the same thing is done the other way ?

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