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November 15, 2005
Dear bloggers: there's nothing funny about murder, mayhem or rape
David Carr of The New York Times takes the blogosphere to task - and especially the celebrity scandal blog Gawker - for its embrace of sleazy and disturbing news stories in an article called "When Bloggers Joke About the Unfunny." Consider the case of Peter Braunstein [aka "The Chelsea Rapist"], a story that has captivated the daily tabloids as well as the gossip blogs for nearly 10 days:
"[Peter Braunstein's] real moment in the sun has come in the Manhattan-based media blogs, which have given him the Paris Hilton treatment. Gawker, the snarky annotator of life in New York's publishing circles, has run almost daily items, making fun of his eyebrows, his alleged fetishes for pantyhose, shoes, and Kate Moss, and his one try at playwriting. Jossip, another blog, suggested in a headline that "Rape isn't funny, but Peter Braunstein sure is." Do tell.
In a way, Mr. Braunstein represents the very sweet spot of Gawker: he is a media writer, he worked at a division of Condé Nast, his publication covered the fashion world and he was convicted of stalking someone else from the same company. The fact that Mr. Braunstein is likely reading over the shoulder of the blogs adds a significant tingle-factor."
Apparently, that's not all. Carr accuses Gawker and other blogs of its ilk of "a peculiar tone-deafness around death and its collateral damage." Traffic deaths, suicides, murders and other grisly crimes should not be the fodder for blog postings, writes Carr: "The great thing about the Web is that people can say almost anything they please. But it will only mature as a medium if people see that as less of a license than as a burden."
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