Well I couldn’t go home today without writing something about this.
Views range from the absolutely-we-did-the-right-thing to the lazy-story-he’s-got-a-right-to-privacy.
What do I think? From a management of the community we’re building perspective, I’d like to have seen him privately warned tp cease and desist before we named and shamed him.
But from a news perspective, I think it’s a great story. I think he has attempted to deceive his electorate and if we’d been mid-election I’m fairly sure those comments could have seen us in breach of electoral regulations if we hadn’t named and shamed him once we knew.
But as Judith Townend from journalism.co.uk said to me today, where do we draw the line between silly and serious?
No harm has been done by the comments, so should we, as holders of private data and managers of a website where people are allowed, if not encouraged, to post under pseudonyms which currently range from Frying Leper to Lord Jesus, have told him to back off, register under his own name or stop bigging himself up? And what of the countless other commenters promoting their own agenda? Who’s allowed and who isn’t?
On reflection, I think I fall on the side of news here. He’s a public servant, paid by the tax payer. They deserve to know if he’s the kind of man who’ll post nice things about himself while trying his hardest to pretend he knows nothing about the story in question. If he was a company, it would be illegal. Has it done us harm with our online readers? Maybe. But you can’t please all the people all the time.
But I will make a quick point about the age old issue of links.
Not a single one of the national stories (nor Iain Dale’s blog, which linked instead to the Indy) has a link to us, or any of the stories Cllr Grower commented on, or journalism.co.uk, who picked up the story first.
To be fair, the nats are all using PA copy. But why can’t PA include links in their feeds? And someone has made the choice to pull the PA story from the feed and highlight on those sites – it’s not hard to find the link to our story. I know Alison Gow has complained about this before, and we’ll no doubt be more annoyed when we see how the print versions use it tomorrow. But if the link economy is part of our future model for news, then why not link to us? I am, courtesy of a Yahoo pipe, linking to them. How about they return the favour?
PS: the best part, in my view, was a complaint from Cllr Grower that people commenting on the story were pretending to be him. Not who they said they were. Oh the irony.