Plain Dealer sparks ethical debate by unmasking anonymous Cleveland.com poster
By Henry J. Gomez, The Plain Dealer
March 26, 2010, 7:00AM
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On one side are experts who believe the newspaper has violated a trust by exploring and revealing information about a critic. On the other are those, including Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg, who believe that information is too important not to see the light of day.
Until this week, “lawmiss” was known only as one of thousands who, often known only by nicknames, share views on news blogs and stories reported at cleveland.com.
But after investigating a comment directed at the relative of a Plain Dealer reporter, editors learned that lawmiss had the same e-mail address as Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold. A closer look revealed that the user had offered opinions on three of Saffold’s cases, including the capital murder trial of accused serial killer Anthony Sowell.
When confronted with the newspaper’s findings Wednesday, the judge denied responsibility for the posts. Her daughter, Sydney Saffold, came forward later to accept responsibility for posting “quite a few, more than five” of more than 80 lawmiss comments.
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With gmail, and other free providers, using a “real” email address is a bone-headed move.
About the only thing dumber is using an ISP’s address.
And, if you’re uncomfortable about using a free email service, you can buy an email account from any number of providers.
You can still be tracked by IP address and credit cards.
But it’s not as easy as, in the newspapers case, of peeking at the computer records.
Silly, to expect honesty from the media. Next, you’ll expect honest from the police. Or the government.
(Stop, stop, I’m laughing so hard, I’m going to wet myself.)
Fore warned is fore armed!
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