Friday, September 18, 2009

'Wausaumatter?' Don't Know the Meaning of 'Anonymous'?

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The Wausau Daily Herald,  a Gannett Co.-owned 20,000 circulation Wisconsin daily newspaper, can look on the bright side--at least it provided a "teaching moment" for journalism professors everywhere on the subject of anonymous bloggers.

The newspaper selected as its "Person of the Year,"  one Dean Zuleger, administrator of the town of Weston, population 12,000. The choice generated controversy and online vitriol, with postings criticizing everything from Zuleger's temperament to his weight.

This was irksome to Zuleger, who wanted to know the identity of the anonymous online negative commenter. Ask and ye shall receive. The Daily Herald provided Zuleger with the Email address of his critic. Before he knew it, businessperson Paul Klocko received a letter at his home on official town stationery from Zuleger telling him to stop the personal attacks and inviting him to "come out from behind the cloak" and meet him.

The Daily Herald has since apologized and said henceforth, it will only provide the type of information Zuleger sought if subject to a court order or if an anonymous posting includes a threat of imminent harm.

It seems as if each week brings  another lawsuit or other anonymous-blogger-related grief to a news organization. What do you think the future holds for faceless commenters, dear readers? [Note: "TUOL" reserves the right to hunt down and "tag" any anonymous respondents.]

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1 comment:

  1. If a "Cheesehead" acts like a rat, they'll fall into their own trap.