Category: Blogging

Journalist’s should support Sherrod’s suit

Journalist’s should support Sherrod’s suit

Isn’t it logical that if a group enjoys a privilege that they would self-police themselves to a great deal to protect that right? Shouldn’t a group of journalists being extremely hard on one of their own that pontificates opinion as being fact and deliberately distorts the facts of their investigation to imply something significantly different?

I think this is logical. By challenging the journalists that hurt the Freedom of Press right or cause it to be abused, the journalists of the world are self-policing themselves. They are saying that with a Right comes a Responsibility. Abuse of the responsibility for fair reporting risks the rights of all journalists and, by extension, the rights of all US citizens.

Evidently, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal doesn’t agree with me (unless I am misunderstanding his argument). He recently wrote in his daily column that Ms. Shirley Sherrod was planning on suing Mr. Andrew Breitbart due to his highly edited video of her. This video ultimately forced her to be fired from her government job and she is upset about that. In my opinion, she should be upset. I think that Mr. Taranto even thinks she has the right to be upset. What he is arguing is that she may not want to sue (I don’t have an opinion on that) and that the journalists that heard her speak of the suit shouldn’t be encouraging her.

I disagree with Mr. Taranto’s opinion. While I read his column daily and agree with a large portion of what he writes, his statements here are incorrect, in my opinion. Journalists should be the first to condemn Breitbart – not the last. While I am just a simple blogger, I hereby condemn Mr. Breitbart for publishing a video that intentionally leads a viewer to an knowingly incorrect conclusion. If Mr. Breitbart would have stated that this video was only his opinion and not the actual facts of the full length video, I would feel differently.

I am not sure if Mr. Taranto’s column is externally exposed for all to read so here are the paragraphs that I have issue with.

But one aspect of this story strikes us as passing strange: The venue in which she issued this threat was a convention of journalists. What’s more, someone who was there tells us that when she said she planned to sue, the audience applauded. Our source was careful to note that there were nonjournalists in the audience too (PR men and corporate sponsors). Still, we have to ask: What kind of journalist would applaud the threat of a defamation lawsuit?

Journalists have an institutional interest in maximizing the scope of First Amendment protections, and that means keeping it as hard as possible for plaintiffs to sue for defamation. Even meritless defamation suits against journalists and news organizations are a nuisance. Thus one would expect journalists to have a general antipathy to the idea of defamation lawsuits, even when sympathetic to a particular prospective plaintiff.

We have noted that Breitbart is not a traditional journalist, and it follows from this that he has no special claim on the sympathy of those who are. Our point, however, is that the interests of defamation plaintiffs run counter to those of journalists, regardless of whether the defendants are journalists or are doing journalism.

New York Times v. Sullivan is itself a case in point. Although the defendant was a newspaper, the published material at issue was not news but a political ad–an open letter from the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, which criticized officials in Jim Crow-era Alabama for their treatment of civil rights demonstrators.

Journalists depend more on the First Amendment than just about anyone else, but we more than anyone should be cognizant that the protections we enjoy as we do our work apply to everyone, including civil rights advocates–and Andrew Breitbart.

No gifts to bloggers

No gifts to bloggers

The FTC has released new guidelines for advertisers. One of those guidelines is that advertisers of diet products cannot have a famous (and formerly fat) person stand there and tell you that they lost 48 pounds in 48 days and you can to if you will just give them $480. Most people understand that they only thing that will lose weight in those schemes is your wallet. It is good for the FTC to demand a bit of realism there.

The FTC also says they will restrict bloggers from talking about products where they received the product or service as a gift in order to elicit the blogger’s review (favorable or unfavorable). There are some services out there that will help you get free products as long as you talk about them on your blog. I think these sites and services will be out of business soon.

For the record, I have never received a gift or any compensation for any product that I have discussed on this site.  I will regularly complain about or rave about my iPhone and its various apps. I will also complain or rave about other products and services. I have never been compensated for these products or have any relationship with the vendor.

All that being said, if Apple would like to give me a new iPhone 3GS, I would be happy to blog about it. I would include the disclaimer that Apple gave it to me for review. If Apple wants to do this, they can contact me and we will work out a deal.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: Yes, I am aware that the government regulation on gifts to bloggers was only that the blogger must declare the gift in the process of the review. I implied above that the gifts were no longer allowed, which doesn’t appear to be the case.

Great site: There, I Fixed It

Great site: There, I Fixed It

I was cracking up laughing as I explored the site There I Fixed It.  I really enjoyed these two posts but it is a lot of fun just to scroll through the whole site.

An unusual way to use men’s underwear (and I would hate to know the waistline size)

For someone like me that flies fairly regularly, I think I would freak out if I saw this out my window – especially if we hit turbulence.  What caused this – a bird?


For other great sites to peruse, be amused, laugh and learn a bit – check out Net-Cool.  Their latest post on Breathtaking Moments is awesome!

RANT! No more faith in Microsoft

RANT! No more faith in Microsoft

After being on an iPhone for a year, I don’t think I could ever go back to a Windows Mobile phone.  I used the Windows Mobile platform for probably 11 years (including the original Windows CE non-phone devices) and it always seemed like the NEXT generation would solve all my problems. The next generation never did come and by the time I gave up, I was in the habit of restarting the phone every morning.

I recently tried to install the desktop search tool from Microsoft.  After several tries and lots of reading online, I couldn’t get the add-on installed that would allow this tool to search my Outlook 2003 files (let alone my Thunderbird personal email).  I gave up and installed Google desktop and was completely indexed on everything in one overnight session.

I have no faith in Microsoft anymore.  I have had to go back to Windows on my laptop rather than Ubuntu but that is just because my 2G RAM laptop was struggling with Ubuntu and a virtual machine with Windows so that I could use Outlook and Office.  If I didn’t have to be completely compatible with the rest of my company then I would likely not have a single Microsoft product on my computer or in my life.

I could survive without MS Office.  OpenOffice does everything that I ever need it to do.  I don’t need the extra functionality that overloads the MS Office product line.

The only product that Microsoft makes that I really like is Windows Live Writer (which I use for blog posts).  But when I was on Ubuntu, I found that Scribe on Firefox was perfectly adequate for my needs.

If I could get Evolution to really work well with our company Exchange server, I would be off of Windows.  I always struggle with the Calendar syncing, calendar invites, and the Global Address Book.  If someone could create a smooth interface to Exchange then it would be goodbye to Microsoft for me!


I am done with this topic for now but I reserve the right to rant more on it someday.

Who Owns Your Name on Twitter?

Who Owns Your Name on Twitter?

I don’t love the social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace.  I do understand the importance of their presence though.  It is moderately important to VERY important (depending on your web presence and its importance to your income) for you to do the land grab and get your name, nickname, or company name out there.  Don’t let a cybersquatter get in your way!

If you want to follow me on Twitter, please do so: @soshaughnessey

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the subject.  I don’t like to reproduce whole articles here (due to copyright issues) so here are the highlights.

Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the doling out of domain names. On the Web, domain names are available for sale on a first-come, first-serve basis. If someone else buys your name first, you can try to buy it from them. If you’ve trademarked a name, you can fight for the name in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ domain-name court system. This makes sense: money and the law are acceptable remedies in our capitalist democracy.

But social media domain names – such as – are a whole different ballgame. They can be doled out arbitrarily. Even if you get a name first on a social network, you are not allowed to sell it and it can be reclaimed by the social network at any time. Legal remedies for dealing with imposters or trademark issues range from murky to nonexistent.


Still, there is some hope if you want to get your name – or reclaim it from someone else who has it. Here are some approaches:

Get There First. Since domain names are free on social media sites, it makes sense to grab yours quickly, even if you don’t plan to use it immediately.

Many sites dole out domain names on a first-come, first-serve basis. The most democratic is LinkedIn, which hands out “vanity URLs,” such as, to the first person who asks for it. As long as the URL is really your name, you can keep it.


Plead Your Case. If someone grabbed your name already, you can appeal to the site to get it back.

MySpace has an automated – and somewhat strange – process for booting imposters. You are required to send in a picture of yourself holding a piece of paper with the URL of the imposter profile written on it. This is called the “MySpace Salute.” If MySpace deems the offending profile to be an imposter, it will delete it.

To protest a Twitter name-squatter, you must send in a ‘tweet’ to Twitter containing the word ‘squatter’. If Twitter decides to reclaim the name, it often keeps the name dormant for several months before handing it over.


Negotiate a Side Deal. Most sites do not allow users to sell names to each other, but that doesn’t mean that deals can’t be cut. After all, it’s easy to transfer control of a social media profile by handing over the username and password.

Consider the gymnastics CNN went through to gain control of the account. A CNN fan set up the account three years ago to automatically tweet CNN’s Breaking News e-mail alerts. Eventually, CNN wanted control of the domain and its huge audience (it now has 1.5 million followers).

Twitter offered to reclaim it for CNN, says CNN spokeswoman Jennifer Martin, but CNN didn’t want to take an aggressive stance against a fan. Instead CNN chose to hire the owner as a ‘consultant’ to train CNN staffers how to use Twitter.


Give Up. Even if you get the domain you want, somebody can still pretend to be you on a social media site.


And after a stint in the rogue states of social media, maybe we should all be more appreciative of the democratic embrace of a simple Web domain name.

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