Can you help with blog justice?

Jackie Danicki (who chaired the recent social media club meeting in London) has been attacked while travelling on the Underground.

If you know this man then please contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40. The assault took place on the southbound Bakerloo line platform at Baker Street, and the abuse continued from there to Piccadilly Circus.

UPDATE: Photo removed on December 8, 2006 pending possible court case.

15 Replies to “Can you help with blog justice?

  1. Is this Blog justice?

    If someone we know were to be attacked we’d all want to do what we could to help. We might think that a reasonably well read weblog offered a useful platform for doing so. But would it be ethical? Stuart

  2. I have a rather different take on this… You and others have (for the best of motives) published a photograph of a man against whom Jackie has made some serious allegations. Without making any comment on their veracity, I question whether such posts are ethical? I have started to explore the issues on Mediations…

  3. Jim, I was questioning whether or not Stuart's post was ethcial. I have no way of knowing whether Jackie's post was true – and nor do you. But that isn't the point I was trying to make…

  4. Philip, you either assume that Jim Treacher and Stuart Bruce do not know me from Adam, or you assume that they do not possess the mental faculties to discern who is trustworthy and who is not. Which is it?

  5. Jim, there is a difference between KNOWING and THINKING. I think Jackie's post is truthful and accurate. I think it is true because I know Jackie and Tom, but I still don't know it to be true. The online world should be no different to the real world and we should try to check facts, at least to some extent. I neglected to do that which is a mistake, but it doesn't take away from anything that Jackie said on her blog.

  6. Jackie,

    Again, I am not questioning your account, nor the trust your friends have in you; what I am questioning is the ethical validity of people who have not met you reproducing serious allegations (with a picture).

  7. "Jim, there is a difference between KNOWING and THINKING. I think Jackie's post is truthful and accurate. I think it is true because I know Jackie and Tom, but I still don't know it to be true. The online world should be no different to the real world and we should try to check facts, at least to some extent. I neglected to do that which is a mistake, but it doesn't take away from anything that Jackie said on her blog."

    Thank you for using more than 80 words to say absolutely nothing.

  8. Hello,
    I have linked to Jackie's post and I have commented on it. As someone who has worked in at least one news room where the attitude was "let them sue" I consider it wholly ethical to link to the original post. The onus under any defamation case as I understand it would be to prove the allegations made were true. Fine, bring it on. But really what are the chances of this happening? A slight niggle would be if the picture remained after any charges were brought – then that's the whole new ball game of contempt.
    My insticts on reading your original post Stuart and then visiting Jackie's blog, where I have lurked before, were to give a small signal of support rather than thinking whether there was a possible defamation against an (okay alleged) attacker. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.
    I can't access Jackie's blog at the moment but if you are reading this Jackie, hello and stay strong.

  9. Linda, I'm fully aware that back in Kelvin's days, The Sun had a dedicated fund for libel actions, and a team of lawyers at the ready – along with a policy of publishing stories that might turn out to be false later.

    But we're talking here about individual bloggers who are clearly publishing libel and don't have the resources, expertise or knowledge to prove the allegations they're making. (for an explanation of why this is libel see my blog)

    Seriously, would you want to take time out from your agency to try and get hold of CCTV footage, find an expert to confirm the person's identity and try and track down witnesses to identify your suspect? If so, then like you say, bring it on.

    Standing up for what you believe in means intervening when you're on the scene. Blogging about the importance of self-defence, or the lack of security on the underground. Not getting yourself into potential legal hot water.

    But personally, I wouldn't touch this with a bargepole. How do you know this isn't someone's ex who's just screwed them over? Or perhaps it's someone with a racist agenda looking to cause trouble? Or it's a spoof? Even if it's true, how do you know whether you'd be able to prove that? Answer: you don't. And unless you're very rich, that's why libel laws exist.

  10. Because I think the likelihood of this individual launching a libel action is a small one.

    I linked to a post about not being contacted by the police and I commented on the blog to say I was sorry it had happened and that people stood by. Seems reasonable to me, rather than worrying about a "legal minefield" of a possible libel action.

    Blogs are about conversation, I'm told and what I wanted to say was: "I'm sorry something so vile happened to you, that people stood by and that you are still waiting to talk to a police officer."

    And if by some more than bizarre twist of fate it did turn out to be some warped sort of "spoof" then I would still be happy to be known as the sucker that said "you poor thing."

  11. Linda – when I'm talking about libel I'm not talking about your post, which I don't have any issue with. Obviously, being abused physically or online is utterly crap, and we should all stand up and say so. More power to you. Or something like that.

    But we have to remember that blogs aren't JUST conversation, surely, they're also publishing. So whereas in conversation you can say what you like about someone without anything too serious resulting from it, in print or online, you need to take more care. That's not you personally – but all those bloggers who posted a picture, or comments assuming the guilt of the individual who was pictured.

    In this specific instance, the chances are this guy doesn't have the resources to sue anyone, but really – is that an ethical response in itself? Aren't you then saying it's okay to defame or libel someone so long as they can't afford to sue you? Ooh, let's all go out and find some poor, disenfranchised people and accuse them of stuff…

    I feel funny disagreeing with you, since we usually agree on most things, so I'd like to add this isn't personal, it's just something I feel very strongly about, especially when I see surveys telling me that blogs and social media are going to replace journalism and PR, since they're somehow more 'authentic' and 'transparent'.

    Well, maybe that's true, but there are also some real dangers here that as writers and commentators, I feel we should be more aware of.

    And here endeth the rant!)

  12. Hello Sally and hello Stuart – very nice of you to let me and Sally discuss things on here!

    I agree there is a wider issue. I agree people should be cautious. All I disagree with is the notion that this individual would want to sue for libel, not based on his wealth but on the likelihood of him wanting to draw attention to what he was doing that day, that's all. I was trying to get across that even if a paper decides 'oh let them sue' they are considering that this may not be likely and it is at least an informed decision – one that bloggers may not be in a position to make – but are we underestimating them by saying this? Who says they aren't making the same informed decision?

    I don't know Jackie, have never met her, but do know her by reputation, having read her blog, comments on other blog and even a profile on another, much respected blog, and now can't access her blog at all but I wanted to add my support rather than get caught up in a debate about the wider issue of libel on blogs.

    I think it's interesting that a disctinction can be drawn about what people who know Jackie "can" write and what those who don't know her can.

    Being totally honest it saddens me that the most hoo-ha seems to be about the rights of an alleged attacker than the wellbeing of a woman abused in broad daylight.

    All this commenting makes me think I'm going to have to blog about this myself.

    I once read something on a PR blog that advised people 'just because you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean they are wrong.' I like that and everyone disagrees now and again, don't they?

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