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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Dealing with idiots

So this kiss pic removal story still has wings. Oldstream media are finally catching up, with reports in The Advocate, Perez Hilton and even the Daily Mail!

It's funny how this story is also being picked up by nobodies desperate to inject themselves into it. Below is a direct transcript of an email I wrote to a so-called "journalist" about his coverage of the removal of the Dangerous Minds news story about the John Snow Kiss-In from Richard Metzger's Facebook wall. In his desperation to find an angle on the story this so-called "journalist" insinuates that the whole incident was cooked up by Dangerous Minds and Paul Shelter in cahoots to bring more attention to the John Snow Kiss-In event. In other words, it was a conspiracy.

I have removed the name of this so-called "journalist" from the email so as to his save him embarrassment and also bring him any more attention or his site any views. He replied with a very weak email in which he tried to copy my approach but avoided addressing my points and lacked anything substantial to say. I may post that too. But first here is my email in its entirety:

Mr XX, my name is Niall O'Conghaile, I am the writer of two of the three posts on Dangerous Minds about the kiss-in controversy. I am the author of the post you quote out of context and misrepresent in your own (really quite shoddy) piece.

Before I go any further I ask you to read the three posts we have blogged so far on Dangerous Minds regarding the John Snow Kiss-in and related Facebook controversy. Of course, you don't have to, but having seen your reply to my colleague Ms McGinley I think it important that you do. It seems that you have confused the issues being discussed. Now, this may be due to the fact that we have used the same picture in each of the three posts, but as someone who calls himself a journalist I fully expected you to be able to tell the difference between the three posts using words alone. Perhaps I am asking too much?

Post 1: Protestors to stage gay kiss-in in London pub tonight

Post 2: Hey Facebook: What's SO wrong with a pic of two men kissing?

Post 3: Setting the facts straight on the Facebook Fiasco

Now on to the real meat of the issue, your erroneous reporting and quoting out of context of my words.

Below is a list of misreported facts in your piece. This article will go to print on the front page of Dangerous Minds tomorrow.

1) "The DangerousMinds website announced today that it erroneously ran a story claiming that Facebook had cancelled [sic] a gay rights protest after two men were ejected from a bar for kissing."

Dangerous Minds never claimed that Facebook canceled the John Snow Kiss-In event page. The following quote from the article was not used to address this point, though it appeared later in the article in the wrong context:

"Richard did not state in his post that Facebook HAD taken the event page down, he just questioned IF this was the case and IF there was a connection with [the original Dangerous Minds post] being removed from his own wall. This seems to have confused some people."

You obviously being one of those people.

2) "it took nearly 72 hours for the "mistake" to be cleared up"

Paul Shetler left the quoted comment on the article thread yesterday (WST - 4/18/11) and it was reported on Dangerous Minds yesterday (WST - 4/18/11). To state otherwise is a lie, and proves your claims of "nearly 72 hours" to be false. If you would like to check, the comment appears around 40 comments down on page 6 of the thread.

As the Facebook event had been made private, there was no way for Dangerous Minds to know who had organised the event and to contact them. We are very grateful to Paul Shetler for leaving the comment on our thread and clearing the matter up.

In your email to my colleague Ms McGinley you suggest that we know Mr Shetler. I quote:

From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: From Dangerous Minds
To: "tara mcginley"
Date: Monday, April 18, 2011, 5:40 PM

DM says Facebook removed an event - DM cries foul that their photo was removed - DM promotes the Paul Shetler event IN TANDUM with Paul Shetler - DM gets lots of Internet traffic - DM then says Oops and throws blame elsewhere.

Do I have that about right?

Like the rest of the article, you are about as right as the Pope is a girl. However I ask you to substantiate your claims and prove that we know Mr Shetler and had been in contact with him prior to the event, or the Facebook wall story removal.

3) "what happeend (sic) here is being perceived as a well oiled publicity stunt to garner attention to the situation and the protest itself. "

While Dangerous Minds cannot speak for the perceptions of the public, we can categorically state that nothing so far reported has been a "stunt", in relation to the original Facebook event page for the John Snow Kiss-In (which was made private by its own creator) or the removal by Facebook of the Dangerous Minds news story about the Kiss-In from editor Richard Metzger's wall.

It seems to me, due to the hurried nature of the writing and the use of the word "the situation" that you have not been in possession of the full facts (which are easily available on Dangerous Minds for those who care to read all three posts). It seems to me that you think the Facebook event page FOR the Kiss-In and the Dangerous Minds blog post ABOUT the Kiss-In were/are the same thing.

4) "The staff at DangerousMinds further tried to distance itself from any wrong doing by claiming that it was the misunderstanding of the rest of the media that caused this story to spiral out of control - even though it was reported on their site as fact (right here)"

Which story exactly are you referring to Mr xxxxxxx? And you DO need to be precise on the matter, because there are two separate stories and you seem to have confused them into being one big story (and in the process tarnished my own name and that of the website). To make it easy, I will show you what the two different stories are.

Story one: The taking down of the Dangerous Minds news article (which features the Eastenders still which your website itself has used) from Richard Metsger's wall is "the story" and is irrefutably A FACT. If you continue to deny this, we ask you to go to Richard Metzger's Facebook wall and show us the post there in all its glory, thus proving that we have lied.

The privating of the Facebook event page for the John Snow pub (which never used said picture from Eastenders, and which I believe you think is "the story") was a secondary issue, one that Richard Metzger asked about. and which we have already cleared up on the site (I refer you back to point 2).

Your continual misrepresentation of the facts (and yes, they are facts) at best demonstrate your own incompetence as a journalist, and at worst point to a deliberate, disingenuous misreporting of what actually happened to suit a more sensationalist agenda. I would like to end with a quote by you, used in your article, which now seems horrifically ironic:

"Even if this is not the case it is still a bold example of what can happen when sources are not checked, and facts are not verified before making claims against companies and enterprises."

On behalf of all the staff of Dangerous Minds, we ask that you retract your article and issue a written apology.

Good day sir,


  1. i was surprised that the journalist didn't bother to do the most elementary fact-checking before writing his piece. i agree it should be retracted and an apology should be issued.

  2. Thanks for the comment Paul. Glad you agree, it's pretty ridiculous.