Sunday, March 4, 2007

Julie Amero: When Bias Meets Blogs

I'm a big fan of irony. The Norwich Bulletin's slogan is "Explore the Possibilities". In practice, they seem to do anything but.

I wish there was a newspaper version of the "Razzies" that could apply to the kind of reporting this paper has done on the Julie Amero case. Not that I should care - the rapid growth of the blogosphere is about to ensure that bias on every scale is evicted from the reporting tent.

The signs are clear. If the published comments of the good citizens of Norwich, Connecticut, are anything to go by, the Norwich Bulletin will disappear, replaced by blogs created by the citizens themselves. This was going to happen anyway - the Amero case just hastened the end.

Before the Julie Amero case came along, and "reporters" Daniel Axelrod and Greg Smith misread the blood-flow of the local populace and started writing pro-state articles about how much this 40 year old, married, pregnant substitute teacher deserved to go to jail, the Norwich Bulletin was on the same downhill slide many other carbon-based media entities are themselves confronting.

The difference in this case was that the Norwich Bulletin chose to prosecute a single side of the case: the side of the prosecutor, David Smith. Judging solely from the comments the paper has chosen to publish, this bias has managed to upset about 90% of their reader base. If Amero's sentence involves jail time, I predict there will be a lot more unhappiness.

Over the last year, I have gotten to see the power of blogs first-hand, and I have learned that if you stick to the facts and stay away from unfounded bias, the blogosphere eventually catches up with you: good or bad. You won't win every heart out there on the web - that is an impossibility in the blogosphere - but as second prize, you will get to experience the principles of Jeffersonian democracy in action: freedom of thought based on freedom of information.

As things stand in this case, Julie Amero's sentencing has been postponed until the end of the month. This decision had nothing to do with the planned arrival of legions of TV and national press reporters, including Fox News, and at least two security software companies. For our part, we were armed and ready to show the citizens of Norwich archived versions of the now notorious "" web site, the site that launched the original investigation, including the original javascript. We still are.

Norwich, see you at the end of the month - at the new sentencing. But don't expect to see any coverage of our public demonstration in your local paper. That would involve unbiased information sharing. Check out your local blog - or the international news - instead.

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