Laura Lane has been a member of our extended, dysfunctional web family for a few months now. (You might remember her from such classic posts as "Reporting from Lakers vs. Jazz." ) But for the past couple of days, she's been at the center of a media "firestorm" in the blogosphere and this morning's editions of USA Today and the LA Times. So yes, even her mom's aware of it now.
Given how the story has blown up, it seems silly to ignore it. So we won't.
Here's what happened: On Friday night, Laura got cussed out by Vanessa Bryant at the Staples Center, ostensibly for writing this post about the night Kobe received his MVP Award. Seems Mrs. Bryant didn't take kindly to Laura's editorializing about her outfit or something. Maybe she was tweaked by being referred to as a soccer mom? Also, Mrs. Bryant has been known to yell at reporters on occasion.
Somewhat amused by this event and knowing that it wasn't particularly newsworthy in the classic sense, Laura went home and wrote about it on her personal blog. (Don't bother looking for it. It's long gone.)
Here's where things get a little messy.
In that post, Laura also posited that perhaps Mrs. Bryant lashed out at her for another reason, and then linked to a previously-reported rumor about her husband on another site of, um, lesser journalistic repute (you won't find this part in the LA Times or USA Today stories.)
Next thing you know, the "story" is picked up by The Big Lead and all hell breaks loose. As you might imagine, it received extra attention in the halls of Bristol because Laura was (incorrectly) ID'd as an "ESPN reporter" (She's not. She's a freelancer and was at the game as such.) For the record, ESPN does allow its writers to maintain their own blogs. Heck, Stephen A.'s got one!
Here comes the "Wow, the media landscape has really changed!" part of the story.
Because Laura is associated—even tangentially—with our massive, yet beneficent, multi-national corporation, her personal blog post was taken by some to be "official" ESPN-approved content. It wasn't. But it turns out, some people don't bother making the distinction between the personal and the professional, especially when the line gets a little blurry.
This isn't the first time something like this has gone down in the post-Web 2.0 medialand. This winter, Kissing Suzy Kolber contributor "The Christmas Ape" was canned from his regular duties at The Washington Post for "discrediting the paper by identifying himself as a Washington Post reporter, including a picture of himself drunk and using profanity." (Yikes, that does sound a bit unseemly.)
As far as we're concerned, Laura didn't do anything particularly "wrong" other than assume her personal speech would be taken as just that: personal. Sadly, now she knows better.
We're sure there's a First Amendment point we could make here but we feel like we're in over our heads as it is. Suffice it to say, we remain big Laura Lane fans here at The Mag.com and we've got her back.
So long as she doesn't mock our purple tutu.
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