By Gregory Moore
The Chicago Tribune story about a blogger who for two months had anti-abortion members reading her blogs has taken a turn that now makes it just more added ammunition about citizen journalists.
Beccah Beushausen, the Chicago surbanite blogger whose blog became a near mantra for anti-abortionists, is now finding herself in the midst of a firestorm both from a legal standpoint and an ethical one.
From a journalistic standpoint, not only has Beushausen breached several ethical violations that ardent reporters and columnists adhere to, what she did was dupe her readers into a make believe story.
Her tale of the troubling pregnancy and later death of the child not only became exposed as a hoax but as loyal follower of the blog is reported saying about the “baby”, “I have that exact doll in my house.”
So from a website that by June 2nd had over a million hits, to now being the center of attention in a debate that has the media world up in arms, Beuschausen has also been able to do the unthinkable; dupe people for money.
Whether she did the act intentionally or not, the she misled a lot of people and they are not happy.
The Oaklawn PO box that was used received letters of support and gifts based upon the fact that the 26 year old was truly an unwed mother having problems.
But as she quickly found out about the Internet, the people who use the portal are savvy enough to find out who you are.
Sadly the social worker now faces the real possibility of not just shame but also criminal prosecution.
As well she should.
The power of the Internet has allowed a lot of individuals to become citizen journalists; some of them have gone on to successful careers doing what they love best; writing.
However bloggers are quickly finding out that there is more to this writing thing than just speaking freely.
Words have actions and sometimes those words have serious consequences.
News outlets have always been wary of bloggers and when they asked their columnists to write daily blogs, the editors at those outlets did so with the intention of just expanding their journalistic domain.
Citizen journalists don’t fall up under that realm.
And they don’t follow any specific guidelines.
Which is why sometimes situations like Beuschausen’s comes to light.
People want to be able to trust what they see and read on the Internet but when you have individuals like this blogger out there purposely misleading the public, it makes everything that is considered news worthy suspect.
Luckily Ms. Beuschausen’s actions are just from an individual standpoint and not from a reputable news outlet.
But the debate is now further pushed into the talk circles because of her actions. She has harmed the delicate balance of two factions who are trying to work in harmony.
Individuals are already wary of citizen journalists and what Beuschausen has perpetrated on an unwitting community is nothing short of malice to do harm to a cause.
Now that cause is going to be suspicious of anyone who says they are a single mother trying to have a difficult pregnancy.
Bloggers shouldn’t have that type of impact on the social fabric but they do.
And maybe that is the sub argument here; our dependence of wanting to be caught up in the sub reality world of each other’s lives.
In any case what this young woman has done is further alienate an already delicate world between citizen journalists and credentialed media professionals.
All because she wanted to bring awareness to a cause; even if it was a lie about herself.