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HennessyBen and Project Mgt

Another Privacy Warning

Web Diary in Mail on SundayIF YOU PUT SOMETHING in front of a tabloid journalist, you run the risk of that information being taken out of context and repurposed for the sake of attracting a tabloid readership. If you put something onto the internet that's discoverable, you risk it being mashed up and reused under another's byline. You relinquish your expectation of privacy once a tabloid journalist starts digging around. This is not the way the world is supposed to work but it's the way things unfold at least once a month among the 2200 people I follow via Google Reader. In the case of Melanie Schregardus, her conversational blog became part of a full-page story in the Irish Mail on Sunday. By all accounts, Melanie was quoted without verification. The full-page colour coverage could damage Melanie's job prospects because her photo accompanied the article (also used without permission) and the normal assumption is that she had approved its use, along with the direct and indirect comments attributed to her in the article.

"To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile." - Aleister Crowley

As Neville Hobson explains in the accompanying audio file [11 MB 96 kbps MP3], Melanie was shattered by the unexpected coverage by the Irish Mail on Sunday. Setting aside the mental duress and the potential workplace backlash, I would take issue with the journalist plagiarising content and with the Mail on Sunday using a media image without permission. Melanie Schregardus produced the essential media texts used to create a full page of coverage in the Irish Mail on Sunday. Those items were used for commercial gain without permission. When my written content or photographs have appeared in a national publication without my approval, I've successfully invoiced the newspapers and received nominal payment (but never more than $600). I'm not a lawyer so my take on the whole mess is based solely on personal experience. I don't think it's worth trying to make a case through the Press Ombudsman against a tabloid for mental duress unless there's a direct link between a loss of livelihood and a newspaper article.

In the meantime, I've filed the unfortunate story of Melanie Schregardus and the Irish Mail on Sunday in the "Internet Health Warning" drawer. An essay question about the incident will appear in a third level examination administered in Tipperary Institute in May 2010. The question will answer itself if parts of the accompanying podcast are incorporated in the answer.

FIR Analysis the Mail on Sunday


Luke Byrne -- "The Male Chauvinist Pigs of Air Traffic Control" in the Irish Mail on Sunday, 24 Jan 10.

Melanie Schregardus -- "In response to the Irish Mail on Sunday" on her new blog, 24 Jan 10.

Anton Vowl -- "Why it's important to get it right" on Enemies of Reason, 25 Jan 10.

John McGuirk -- "Reflections on the Mail on Sunday article" on his blog, 25 Jan 10.

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