Thursday, November 19, 2009

Journalists who don't understand their profession

Three points in response to this unbelievable news out of St. Louis, MO. An anonymous poster to a blog linked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a one word comment in response to the question of the day: What is the strangest thing you've ever eaten?

His response: pussy.

The moderator of the blog deleted his post. The anonymous commenter re-posted his comment. (Probably thinking it hadn't gone through.) By mechanisms still not well understood by me, something called WordPress, sent Kurt Greenbaum, the author of the blog post and the STL Post-Dispatch's "Director of Social Media", an email, and.....well, why don' we let Kurt describe what happened next."
I deleted it [the second comment], but noticed in the WordPress e-mail alert that his comment had come from an IP address at a local school. So I called the school. They were happy to have me forward the e-mail, though I wasn’t sure what they’d be able to do with the meager information it included.
Well, I'll tell ya what they did with it. The IT department at the school were able to pinpoint the computer and the time and apparently, identify the poster because only one person had access to that computer at that time. So despite the fact that the STL P-D's privacy policy specifically states that they will not share information on posters with third parties without the poster's consent, Greenbaum did exactly that.

When confronted with the news that the anonymous comment had garnered a tattle-tale phone call from the blog owner, the school employee resigned on the spot.

Kurt Greenbaum then posted an account of the situation on the STL P-D website, whereupon he was summarily torn to shreds by every poster (save a handful) to the page.

I have three things to say about this.

1. The glee with which Kurt Greenbaum reports of a person losing their job for posting a mildly vulgar word qualifies him for mayor of Douchebaggerdale.

2. The fact that he vehemently defended his actions when everyone told him what a douchebag he was and the fact he felt blameless for forcing someone out of a job for something that was neither illegal nor immoral is further proof of his douchebaggery. What? You don't believe me? Look at this:

@Ghetto: Yeah, you caught me! I made him log on to his computer at work, visit’s Talk of the Day, read the item, type a vulgarity and hit the “submit” key.

Interesting perspective. Thanks for your contribution.

Oh, I didn’t say he was fired. I said he resigned.

— Kurt Greenbaum 3:31 pm November 16th, 2009
or this:

Blocking IP addresses is a bad idea. You can accidentally block everyone from a particular place of business. I didn’t track down the guy. His place of work just showed up in the email alert because their servers were correctly configured.

Defend the guy who posted the vulgarity all you want. I’m not regulating someone’s thought. He can think whatever he wants. I’m moderating our boards. Follow our guidelines and this won’t be a problem for any of you.

Remember, I said it was a school, right? It could have been a student. I didn’t know who it was. I just thought the school might like to know about it. I sleep fine at night.

— Kurt Greenbaum 4:26 pm November 16th, 2009
Oh, the douchbaggery. It burns.

3. I wouldn't buy a STL Post-Dispatch if my life depended on it. If their Director of Social Media doesn't understand the nature of social media, he deserves to be fired for that alone.

I don't think I have ever heard of a bigger douche than this guy. But by god, don't call him a facist. At the St Louis Post-Dispatch, they'll call out your business for your personal thoughts.

Oh, and what warning do posters get to watch their language by the P-D? If you attempt to post, this is what appears in the comment box.
I guess these guys have never met my mother.

Massive fail, dudes.