Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missouri newspapers stand by decision to withhold name of MySpace 'cyberbully'

Earlier this month, the St. Charles Journals of St. Peters, Mo., broke the story of Megan Meier, 13, who hanged herself after a relationship on ended. Her "boyfriend" on MySpace was actually a 47-year-old neighbor whose daughter knew Meier, but in reporting the story, the St. Charles Journals — which publishes several weeklies in the suburbs of St. Louis — have refused to reveal the identity of that woman. Since the story appeared Nov. 11, other media outlets, such as Fox News and The New York Times, have named Lori Drew (click here for the latest Times story), but the St. Charles Journals reporter and editor stand by the decision to keep the name out of print.

"We are sticking with it because the things that helped us make our decision haven’t changed," Dave Bundy, editorial director of the newspaper group that includes several community papers owned by Lee Enterprises, told Joe Strupp of Editor and Publisher. "We were concerned about the daughter [of Drew] and to what extent she was involved and dragged along with this." Pokin's stories can be found here.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which, like the St. Charles Journals, is owned by Lee Enterprises, has revealed the name. But Steve Pokin, the Journal reporter broke the story after getting a phone call from Meier's great aunt, agreed with the decision to withhold Drew's name. "She is not being accused in a court of law, she is not being sued and our take is that we don’t run suspects unless charges are filed," he told Strupp. (Read more)

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