A few days ago there was a lot of chatter on Twitter about a blogger named Crystal Cox that lost a $2.5 million lawsuit, in part because the judge ruled she wasn’t a “journalist” and thus not protected by media shield laws. Predictably, bloggers were up in arms about it, fearing that now any old asshole with a bone to pick could sue them into financial ruin.
Last week, a story came across my desk that seemed to suggest that a blogger had been unfairly nailed with a $2.5 million defamation award after a judge refused to give her standing as a journalist. A businessman who was the target of the blogger’s inquiries brought the suit.
I went to work on a blog post, filled with filial umbrage, saddened that the Man once again had used a boot heel to crush truth and free speech. But after doing a little reporting, I began to think that what scanned as an example of a rich businessman using the power of the courts to silence his critic was actually something else: a case of a blogger using the Web in unaccountable ways to decimate the reputation of someone who didn’t seem to have it coming.
If you read any of the initial coverage, you might want to read either of those.