I'm going off-brief for a little. Sort of.
Melanie Schregardus is an air traffic controller in Shannon. She's also a blogger. Last weekend her life went into a tailspin on the back of an article by The Irish Daily Mail. A journalist by the name of Luke Byrne took one of her blogposts (you can access the background here) and proceeded, in clichéd bad journalist fashion, to spin it into something very different from what Melanie had intended.
The key elements are in place: industrial unrest within the civil aviation sector; a chauvinism angle; an innocent online diary offering tantalising titbits when viewed in fragments from just the right angle.
I'm offering no opinion on the civil aviation dispute. I'm not offering any opinion on the legalities of the Daily Mail's actions either. I'm absolutely sure that it's put enormous, unasked-for and entirely unexpected pressure on Melanie Schregardus and her family. I have no doubt that it is, at the very least, lazy journalism but probably more like the Mail ethos and agenda in black and white.
Harsh lessons are being learned by innocent people that the internet is not a democracy or a meritocracy either. Bullies exist here for grownups as well as schoolkids, and privacy as a concept is null and void. If you are not entirely confident about what you are saying, don't be surprised if you wake up to a bad news story starring you. I hope the Schregardus family gets satisfaction and vindication. I hope the Irish Daily Mail drops ten thousand readers. As the Sarge used to say in Hill Street Blues, be careful out here.
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