Get ready for a meta blog about a media blogger quitting the business. Oregon Media Insiders (OMI) "fairy blogmother" Lynn Siprelle says she's quitting the site in a strange and rather sad post this morning. In the post, Siprelle writes that she "lost a friend today over this site," that "the more I censored, the more open to lawsuits I was," and that she can't afford legal defense. "So I have to stop doing this," she writes. "End of day tomorrow (when the current ads expire) I'm taking the site offline. I would like very much for someone to take over OMI. I think it's important that a site like this continue, but I don't have it in me any more."
"I'm gonna let somebody run it who I guess has a bit of a thicker skin than I do," Siprelle told the Mercury via phone interview this morning. "I'm depressed. This has been a big chunk of my life and I've met a lot of people, it's hard to give up." Siprelle got a "last straw" email this morning from an unnamed "friend" asking her "how I could do this to them, basically," referencing a year-old comment on an OMI post.
The comment, apparently, said something unpleasant about Siprelle's friend and they took it personally.
"This isn't about me, or something someone has said about me," said Siprelle. "People have basically said to me on my site 'I wish you'd die,' and there was even a temporary hate site put up about me. But for the last three or four months people have been saying that I must enjoy some of the negative comments that are posted about people in the industry, and that's not true. I don't."
Siprelle wouldn't disclose the nature of the post, or the identity of her offended friend. But she says the legal advice she has gotten suggests that the best defense to libel claims is to essentially allow a free for all discussion to take place in the comments on her site. "The more you cut back in the comments, the more you take responsibility for what you leave," she says.
"The only thing I do take down is stuff alleging workplace affairs," she says. "Whenever a pretty girl moves to the market, and interestingly it's always a pretty young girl, hardly ever a pretty young man, inevitably a commenter comes along saying 'she's sleeping with the news director,' and I think, is that really the best you can do?"
To reinforce her rationale for leaving unpleasant comments unedited under OMI posts, Siprelle directed the Mercury to this fascinating Pennsylvania lawsuit from 2006 between Tucker Max, a self-professed "asshole" blogger, and Anthony DiMeo III, part-time model, heir and owner of a New Jersey blueberry farm. Seriously, read the suit: The characters are straight out of a Tom Wolfe novel.
DiMeo filed suit after someone in the comments on one of Tucker Max's posts about DiMeo's modeling speculated that he was being "fisted by an angry gorilla" and "imagining a leper were about to take a shit in [his] mouth" in order to pull a certain face in a photograph. Prizes for anyone who can find that photo on the Tucker Max blog. The Pennsylvania court upheld the comments as free speech.
"It's not that I don't want to upset my friends," says Siprelle. "I've upset a lot of people over the years. I've had station legal departments call me and I'll often end those conversations shaking—that's one of the reasons I left journalism in the first place is that I'm not well suited to confrontation."
Siprelle worked for OPB in the early 1980s, for KGW as a newswriter and for KINK FM as a stringer and producer until quitting the business in the 1990s, but still considers herself a "journalist of sorts," having run the website TheNewHomemaker.com since 1999.
OMI has been running since October 2005. Comments on New Homemaker are heavily edited, says Siprelle, adding: "I don't put up with a lot of trolling on my other sites."
"OMI was just starting to make a little money," says Siprelle, estimating online ads were bringing in around $100 a month. "Although the majority of my online revenue comes from New Homemaker, and I'll be spending more time over there from now on."
"Trolls have been a problem since before the internet was invented," she continues. "People in villages used to enjoy stirring up trouble. It seems to be part of the human condition. The thing I've always done is said don't feed the trolls. In fact what the Daily Kos does is, when somebody trolls you, you post a recipe."
Siprelle says she is resolute in her decision to quit, and that she has heard from several people eager to take over OMI so far, this morning. We'll keep you posted, and in the mean time, good luck Lynn.