Reporter Suspended For Trashing Paper In Blog

    December 24, 2004

PaidContent has an interesting take on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who was suspended for writing a pseudonymous blog titled “Rage, Anguish and Other Bad Craziness in St. Louis.”

Staff writer Daniel P. Finney was apparently using profanity to describe the newspaper, making comments about his co-workers and bosses, and posting about interview subjects he had covered.

But when I read the story last week about the anonymous blogger who appeared to be a Post-Dispatch staffer, I knew the author was looking at a suspension at the very least. What’s more, the Riverfront Times had to know it.

The first clue was the language being used, which the alternative paper exulted in repeating, and the negative sentiments being expressed about recipients of donations to the paper’s 100 Neediest Cases. The story quickly spread through the Post-Dispatch, with the blogger’s identity seeping out when Finney’s hard drive was seized.

The blog disappeared — sort of. I started to read entries via Google’s cache feature and quickly realized that some boundaries had been crossed. The blogger used profanity to describe the newspaper, made comments about co-workers and bosses, wrote of interview subjects and stories he apparently had covered.”

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.