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Posts for March, 2012

Verdicts Returned in Rutgers Spycam Suicide Case

Jim Burroway

March 16th, 2012

Dharun Ravi, 20, the Rutgers University student who was accused of setting up a spy-cam and inviting friends to watch his roommate, Tyler Clementi, share intimate moments with another man, was found guilty today of invasion privacy, but was found not guilty on most of the charges of bias intimidation. He was also found guilty on charges of witness tampering, tampering with evidence, and hindering prosecution. He faces up to ten years in prison, and he could be deported to his native India, even though he has been a legal resident in the U.S. since he was a very young child.

Clementi commited suicide in September, 2010 by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge, following two incidents in which Ravi set up a spycam in the students’ dorm room while Clementi was alone with another man. Clementi discovered Ravi’s Tweets inviting fellow student to watch. 

The jury returned its verdicts shortly before noon EDT today after three days of deliberation in a trial that lasted nearly four weeks.

UPDATE: Sentencing has been set for May 21. He will remain free until then.

Anoka-Hennepin School District Agrees To Anti-Bullying Settlement

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2012

A school district outside of Minneapolis agreed last night to a settlement in which the district will implement specific anti-bullying measures to address a rash of suicides at the school district over the past few year. In a 5-1 vote, the Anoka-Hennepin School District agreed to settle a Justice Department civil rights investigation and a lawsuit filed by six former and current students.

The settlement creates a five year partnership between the school district, the Justice Department and the Department of Education to establish new policies and programs to address school bullying generally and anti-LGBT bullying in particular. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the settlement will:

  • Retain a consultant on sex-based harassment to review its policies and procedures.
  • Develop and implement a plan for preventing and addressing sex-based harassment of students in middle and high school.
  • Enhance training of staff and students on the issue.
  • Retain a mental health consultant to address needs of students victimized by harassment.

“This partnership will strengthen the support that the district provides to all students, including students who are gay or perceived to be gay,” said school board Chairman Tom Heidemann. He added that the consent decree builds upon the work the district already has done to step up its anti-bullying efforts, including staff training.

The settlement comes after more than a year of controversy in which the school board initially denied there was a problem despite nine suicides taking place over the previous two years. Not only that, but the board also instituted a policy backed by Focus On the Family and a local conservative parents group requiring teachers to remain “neutral” in any discussions on sexual orientation, a policy which effectively prevented teachers from adequately addressing anti-gay bullying in particular. At one point, the Parents Action League demanded that ex-gay therapy be presented to students as a means of making what they thought the real problem was — the existence of gay kids — go away.

The lone dissenter in last night’s vote, school board member Kathy Tingelstad, resigned after casting her no vote.

Another Teen Takes His Life

Jim Burroway

December 8th, 2011

The bullying got so bad, friends say, that Jacob Rogers dropped out at Cheatham County Central  High School in Ashland City, Tennessee, just a few miles northwest of Nashville. He took his own life Wednesday:

“He started coming home his senior year saying ‘I don’t want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a f****, they call me gay, a queer,’” friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.

Kaelynn said her friend Jacob felt ignored.

“Jacob told me no one was helping him. He constantly was going to guidance,” she said.

The school says they were only aware of one bullying incident, and said they intervened. But the fact that Jacob quit going to school around Thanksgiving should have been a red flag. Jacob’s grandmother, who was his primary guardian, found some notes Jacob let behind which included passwords to his email and phone to allow investigators to determine why he killed himself.

For more information on suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

“It Gets Better” Needs Some Muscle Behind It

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2011

Canadian comedian and commentator Rick Mercer responds to Jamie Hubley’s suicide:

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Dan Savage agrees:

So: yes to that assembly, yes to confronting the kids who abused Jamie Hubley. Since the beginning of the project I’ve called for bullies to be arrested and prosecuted. If it’s a crime for a 16-year-old kid to beat up a little old lady in a shopping mall, it’s a crime for for a 16-year-old kid to beat up queer kid in a high school. Parents whose kids are being assaulted need to go to the police first, school administrators second.

Eleven or Thirteen More Dead Gay Kids Ought To Do It

Jim Burroway

October 26th, 2011

Click to enlarge

That’s what a Joplin, MO, high school math teacher– or someone posing as him – posted on the Facebook wall of a former student in a debate over fifteen-year-old Jamie Hubley’s suicide. According to the Joplin Globe:

A Facebook comment replying to the (Josh) Gonzalez post that appeared under (Jim) Whitney’s name stated: “Moral of the story: Don’t be gay.”

That comment provoked reaction and criticism from others, including this: “How many more kids have to kill themselves before everyone realizes that this is an actual issue?”

That was followed by another comment attributed to Whitney’s account that read: “11-13 ought to do it.”

The Joplin Board of Education is investigating. Whitney apologized in an email:

I do not condone bullying or harassment of any kind and I am very aware and saddened by the negative impact this type of behavior creates. I regret that the posts appeared on Facebook. They do not reflect my personal views and I apologize for any and all offenses caused by the comment.

Whitney wouldn’t explain to reporters how comments which don’t reflect his personal views ended up under his profile. But Gonzales said that Whitney told him later that Whitney’s account had been hacked. Gonzales said the comments appeared out of character for Whitney, which leads him to believe Whitney’s claim of innocence.  “The part that got me really fired up was the ‘11-13 might do it,’” Gonzalez said “At that point I was like, ‘OK, that can’t be him.’”

Depression, Bullying Combine For Another Suicide

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2011

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Hubley, of Ottawa, Ont., killed himself this weekend after struggling with depression and bullying. Jamie was reportedly the only openly gay student at his school, and he wrote on his blog about the difficulties of being gay and with his struggles with depression:

In a post three weeks ago, he said he was depressed, that medications he was taking weren’t working, and that being gay in high school was so hard — a thousand times harder in real life than on the popular television show, Glee, which he loved.

“I hate being the only open gay guy in my school … It f—ing sucks, I really want to end it,” he wrote.

The blog postings are interspersed with angst-filled quotes and startling images of self-harm — gathered from all over the web, as well as other pictures of celebrities, clothing and men kissing passionately.

Last Friday, he posted his final message:

He thanked his family and his friends, but wrote that he just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Im tired of life really. Its so hard, Im sorry, I cant take it anymore.

“Its just too hard,” he wrote, later referencing It Gets Better, a popular online campaign in which millions of people have posted heartfelt video messages directed at young people struggling with their sexuality and acceptance in the world.

“I dont want to wait 3 more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know It will get better? Its not.”

This suicide comes just three weeks after fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself. Suicide prevention experts, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Trevor Project, worry that high-profile suicides could trigger what’s known as a “suicide contagion.”  It should be noted that Hubley didn’t reference Rodemeyer in any of his posts, and so it’s not clear that this is the case here. But it should also be noted that there were other, clear warning signs in his posts — particularly with the images of self-harm. Huber’s left arm was already scarred from prior episodes of self-cutting. The blog posts over the past several weeks indicate that he has been thinking about this for quite a while.

Suicide is not the natural end result to bullying. But it does leave vulnerable kids who are already struggling with depression with just one more thing to cope with. Some can’t, and they often can’t or won’t directly reach out for help. Telling gay kids that “It Gets Better” is a great start for those who aren’t struggling with mental illness. But for the others, more is needed.  For more information on general suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

Jamey’s Bullies Celebrate His Death

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2011

The parents of Jamey Rodemeyer, the Buffalo-area teen who killed himself following constant bullying, told NBC’s Today that the bullying is still going on even after his death. This time, they’re being directed toward Jamey’s sister:

The parents of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who was found dead at their home on Sept. 18, indicated in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Ann Curry on Tuesday that their daughter endured further taunts at a school function immediately after Jamey’s wake. At a homecoming dance she attended shortly after her brother’s death, a potentially poignant moment turned ugly after a song by Lady Gaga, Jamey’s favorite artist, who recently dedicated a song at a concert in his memory.

“She was having a great time, and all of a sudden a Lady Gaga song came on, and they all started chanting for Jamey, all of his friends,’’ Jamey’s mother, Tracy, told Curry. “Then the bullies that put him into this situation started chanting, ‘You’re better off dead!’ and ‘We’re glad you’re dead!’ and things like that.

“My daughter came home all upset. It was supposed to be a time for her to grieve and have fun with her friends, and it turned into bullying even after he’s gone.’’

“I can’t grasp it in my mind,’’ said Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s father. “ I don’t know why anyone would do that. They have no heart, that’s basically what it comes down to.’’

Jamey’s parents said that he often spoke openly about the bullying at Heim Middle School, but he became more withdrawn at the start of his freshman year in high school.  His parents discovered an online post after his death, reading, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so that people will listen to me?’’

Amherst police are investigating whether Jeremy was a victim of harassment or hate crimes before his suicide.

Beware The Heroes We Create

Jim Burroway

September 27th, 2011

First, let me stipulate one thing: Lady Gaga’s advocacy on all manner of LGBT-related topics are powerful and heartfelt. While some might see her advocacy as just another means of self-promotion, I just don’t see it that way. And I don’t even see her advocacy as being “loyal to her fan base,” a poor excuse for advocacy if I ever heard one. It’s another way of saying an entertainer simply knows where his or her bread is buttered. I think Lady Gaga would be a strong advocate regardless of what her “fan base” may be. Her career is built upon many things, including image and self-promotion, but her advocacy seems, to me at least, to be genuine and passionate.

And yet, as I watch this video of her performing “Hair” and dedicating it to Jamey Rodemeyer at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, I can’t help but thinking that, in some small way, Jamey achieved in death something he never had in life: a song dedicated to him from the star performer who he described as a huge inspiration to him. If he were alive — and I’m assuming he was like most star-struck teens who worshiped their musical idols — his thrill at her mentioning his name before thousands of adoring fans would have been unmeasurable. But he’s not alive. He killed himself last week after enduring yet more bullying, even after he himself had made his own “It Gets Better” video last spring.

I don’t think there is a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person alive who hasn’t experienced bullying, peer rejection and torment. For some of us, that experience has been indescribably brutal. But the fact that we are alive is proof that suicide is not a natural response to bullying. If it were, we’d all have killed ourselves. For some, however, there is at least one other ingredient in the mix somehow which leads then to kill themselves while others press on. Those ingredients vary from individual to individual, but suicide research shows that one common denominator is often depression, which can express itself in many ways. It brings an extra vulnerability for teens to carry, a vulnerability which makes it extraordinarily difficult to predict the specific incident which could trigger the next suicide.

As I watch this video, I can’t help but recall moments of darkness and despair in my own life when I imagined the huge wave of grief that would be unleashed by my own funeral. I dreamed of my tormenters’ lives forever ruined by their guilt for having pushed me over the edge. Everyone else would know who they were, and they would shun them the way I was shunned. Who’s sorry now, huh?

Who among us haven’t imagined something like this for themselves? The wailing and rending of clothing as people finally realized that their cruelty and neglect would haunt them for the rest of their days, the outpouring of love in death that we felt was withheld from us in life, and, in the scene’s dénouement, a song in our honor because even the greatest pop hero (in my version, it was either Bobby Sherman or, later, Cher ) would know our names.

I needn’t point out the obvious that I never did try to make my fantasy a reality. My self-esteem was so low that I feared that I was too incompetent to actually kill myself and I’d end up a life-long vegetable. I guess you could say my depression was so deep it actually saved me. But we do know the phenomenon of copy-cat suicides, where the aftermath of one person’s death may begin to look pretty good to others who are watching. Which is what makes watching this video for me so horrifying. Jamey talked about his love of Lady Gaga in his “It Gets Better” video. But to most of us watching that video, we would naturally come to the conclusion that it didn’t get better. And, for most of us, it will be obvious that with Jamey gone, it will truly never get better for him on this earth because he’s not here on it.

But is it so obvious to other Lady Gaga fans? To other teenage, bullied, depressed, and hopeless Lady Gaga fans? A Lady Gaga fan who would kill for that kind of a shout-out, even if it is a posthumous one? The LGBT Movement Advancement Project, a joint effort of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, GLSEN, GLAAD and others, have a very informative 12-point guide for talking about suicide (PDF: 642KB/4 pages). Points 7 and 8 are particularly relevant here:

7. DON’T normalize suicide by presenting it as the logical consequence of the kinds of bullying, rejection, discrimination and exclusion that LGBT people often experience. Presenting suicide as the inexplicable act of an otherwise healthy LGBT person—or drawing a direct, causal link between suicide and the bullying or discrimination that LGBT people often face—can encourage at-risk individuals to identify with the victim (or the victim’s life circumstances) and increase risk of suicidal behavior.

8. DON’T idealize suicide victims or create an aura of celebrity around them. Research shows that idealizing people who have died by suicide may encourage others to identify with the victim or seek to emulate them.

As I look through the list, I see several important points which show that there have been times when BTB did not do such a good job in talking about teen suicide in the past. I do know that we have broken some of the recommendations in this list. Our mistakes were honest ones, but we can ill-afford to keep making them. This isn’t to say that we cannot talk about suicide or report future cases in which teens take their own lives. Not talking about suicide won’t make it go away, and not talking about bullying won’t make things better for gay teens. But there are things we all can do to better respond to our collective grief and anguish when the spark of yet another young life flames out in self-destruction, particularly when we can easily identify with the pain that led to those final moments.

We don’t know what final spark led Jamey Rodemeyer to kill himself. And chances are we won’t know the actual trigger for the next person who reaches that moment of despair where the only option they believe they have is to follow in Jamey’s footsteps. But we do know that we can chose to honor Jame’s life in a way which can be helpful to other teens who might be at a similar point of hopelessness in their lives. If Jamey’s death is to mean anything, it must be found in the commitment to ensure that people like him can find the help that they need when and where they need it, and to surround them with supportive adults to help them — whether those adults are inside their families or outside; in the schools or off school property. Let Jamey’s death be not an occasion for another poignant music video, but a call to action to make sure every teen knows that there is someone they can turn to. And to make sure that when they need to turn to someone, there really is someone there to help.

For more information on general suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

Buffalo Teen Latest Suicide Following Anti-Gay Bullying

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2011

Fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer posted an “It Gets Better” video last May describing his struggles with the constant bullying he experienced at school. He expressed confidence at that time that his family and friends could carry him through the difficulties. But when he started  a new school year as a high school freshman, the bullying got worse. It turns out that that support wasn’t enough:

Soon after coming home from a family camping trip, Jamey was found dead Sunday. His parents say he was always under pressure because of struggles with his sexuality.

Jamey’s mother Tracy Rodemeyer said, “So he hung around with the girls a lot, so then the teasing started happening like ‘Oh you’re such a girl or you’re gay or whatever and that bothered him for many years.”

Now, they want to carry in his message in hopes of preventing another tragedy like this one.

Jamey’s father Tim Rodemeyer said, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.”

Colbert Reports “It Gets Better”

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2011

Steven Colbert slowly sheds his character to tell teens that “it gets better”:

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Plea Deal Reached In Tyler Clementi Case

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2011
Dharun Ravi (left), and Molly Wei (right)

Dharun Ravi (left), and Molly Wei (right)

Molly Wei appeared in court Friday to request admittance into a pretrial probationary program that could lead to the dismissal of all charges against her in exchange for her testimony against Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who reportedly broadcast a live video feed of Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man in his dorm room. That incident, along with another attempt a few days later, led to Clementi’s suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

As part of the plea deal, Wei agreed to counseling and to do 300 hours of community service, in addition to testifying against Ravi. According to prosecutors, Ravi and Wei watched Clementi through a video cam from Wei’s laptop computer in her dorm room.

Clementi’s parents agreed to the plea arrangement. According to Joe Clementi, Tyler’s father, her actions were “substantially different in their nature and their extent than the actions of Tyler’s former roommate.”If Wei completes the three year program, then two counts of invasion of privacy will be dismissed. Otherwise, she faces trial and up to three years’ imprisonment.

Two weeks ago, Ravi was charged with fifteen felony count, including invasion of privacy and attempted invasion of privacy, bias crimes, tampering with evidence and witness tampering. He faces up to ten years in prison.

Tyler Clementi

When Clementi committed suicide last September, his death was among a rash of suicides that sparked a national conversation about the difficulties LGBT youth experience. That attention became the genesis for the It Gets Better project, in which people all over the world upload videos of encouragement for young people who face bullying, taunts, and other difficulties with their peers and/or families. There is also a companion book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, which includes essays  from celebrities, ordinary people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as additional contributors who have not posted videos to the site. Kindle and audiobook editions are also available.

Tyler Clementi’s Roommate Earns 15 Indictments

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2011

A New Jersey prosecutor’s office announced today that a 15-count indictment has been handed down against Dharun Ravi, the Rutger’s university roommate of Tyler Clementi, who secretly distributed a live video on the internet of Clementi having an intimate encounter with another man just days before Clementi committed suicide.

The charges against Ravi include two counts each of invasion of privacy and attempted invasion of privacy, two counts of second-degree bias crimes and two counts of third degree bias crimes, three counts each of tampering with evidence and hindering his own apprehension, and a single count of witness tampering.

Another student, Molly Wei, was also charged with invasion of privacy, but her case has not yet been presented to the grand jury. Charges against her are pending and the case remains active.

Tyler Clementi’s suicide garnered nearly immediate national attention. A rash of suicides taking place at that same time became the impetus behind the It Gets Better project and other efforts to implement anti-bullying programs in schools around the country. The It Gets Better project, in which ordinary people are encouraged to upload videos reaching out to LGBT youth to encourage them to hang in there because “it gets better,”  has announced a new hardcover book by project co-founders Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller. The book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, collects essays  from celebrities, ordinary people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as additional contributors who have not posted videos to the site. Kindle and audiobook editions are also available.

Do Teens Commit Suicide More In Politically Conservative Areas?

Jim Burroway

April 18th, 2011

That’s the conclusion drawn by Columbia University psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler in a study to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Pediatrics. I haven’t seen the study myself, but based on news reports and the meager information provided in the study’s abstract, I think caution is in order.

Using data drawn from an Oregon survey, Hatzenbuehler created an social environment index based on (1) the proportion of same-sex couples, (2) the proportion of registered Democrats, (3) the presence of gay-straight alliances in schools, and (4) school policies (nondiscrimination and anti-bullying) that specifically protected lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. Based on that cross-tabulation, he concluded that not only were LGBT students about five times more likely to attempt suicide in the previous twelve months, but that LGBT students were “20% greater in unsupportive environments compared to supportive environments.”

That conclusion passes the gut check, but one can be misled by one’s gut. My first question is this: to what extent does the study control for rural vs. urban environments? That seems like a logical questions, and it immediately leapt to mind in discovering that the data was based on an Oregon survey. Oregon’s urban areas are almost exclusively Democratic while its more rural areas are more uniformly conservative. If this study had taken place in, say, Arizona, where there is a significant mix of urban areas that are wildly conservative (Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert), and other urban areas which trend Democratic (Tucson, Flagstaff), the result may show something very different. California’s mix of liberal and conservative urban and rural areas would also provide fertile ground to study this further.

Until we know more about this study, I believe caution would be well advised. I hope to obtain a copy of the study soon.

Alexandria’s Echo Press publishes spin on Lundsten’s toxicology report

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2011

Yesterday television media in Alexandria, MN, followed up on their coverage of the local anti-gay bullying problem. They confirmed the claims of anti-bullying advocates in reporting that toxicology reports reveal that, indeed, Lance Lundsten’s death was due to suicide. This contradicted the position taken by the local newspaper which had been insisting that Lundsten had died due to a medical condition.

As of late afternoon yesterday, the Echo Press had made no mention of the toxicology results. At some point after Box Turtle Bulletin criticized them for their silence on the issue, the following blub appeared on their website:

18-year-old’s death in Miltona determined to be suicide
Toxicology reports indicate that 18-year-old Lance Lundsten of Miltona was a victim of suicide.

Lundsten, a senior at Jefferson High School, died on January 15 at his home.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office investigated the death and initially described it as a medical call/sudden death.

Family members said they were initially told that a preliminary autopsy indicated that Lundsten had cardiac edema, a medical condition caused by an enlarged heart. The family was told it would be six to eight weeks before complete toxicology results could be determined.

Those results are back now and they show “a mixed drug ingestion” led to the death and that the manner of death was suicide, according to Douglas County Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Spanbauer.

Not much there… but the language included – and excluded – is worth noting as an example of a newspaper deliberately seeking to deceive its readers.

The Echo Press carefully strung together a few sentences, each of which may be factual but when taken together tell a false tale. And all of it is designed to cover the butt of publisher Al Edenloff.

First, yes it was a “medical call/sudden death.” This is a pretty broad description and could cover anything.

But the Echo Press included this terminology for a very specific reason: to imply validation for their campaign to deny the true cause of Lundsten’s death. Lookie there, the sheriff used the word “medical” so we’re justified in insisting that the cause of his death was “cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart.”

Then Edenloff defends his scolding editorial and incorrect reporting by shifting blame to fourth-party information. “Family members said they were initially told…”

To those who have not followed the drama, this looks to be some little story of the medical examiner discovering that the cause of death wasn’t what he thought after all. To the shock of everyone, this was a suicide. Whoda thunk it?

But what happened is quite something else. A false story was spread to cover the truth behind Lundsten’s death and the motivation appears to be to cover up the community’s entrenched anti-gay bias. And Echo Press was the main culprit in the propagation of this story.

Mr. Edenloff was angered that “anti-bullying groups” were covering the story in ways that reflecting badly on the city and the school. He didn’t like that Senator Al Franken had used the story to highlight the need for anti-bullying legislation.

And I suspect that he may have truly believed his happy fairly tale that swept everything under the rug, caused no reason to question the attitude that Alexandria and Jefferson High have towards gay kids, and implicated no one in the death of a high school student. Or he chose to believe it.

But he was wrong. And rather than admit this and apologize to those whom he chastised and criticized, he’s trying to act as though the reporting and editorializing of the Echo Press was reasonable. It was not.

Oh, it’s possible that Edenloff will run an editorial “explaining” his actions. And while I can hope that some humility may creep in, I suspect it will ignore the story behind the story: that Alexandria’s gay youth are going though torment while its adults blithely traipse along refusing to see or do anything about it.

I doubt that Edenloff will suddenly join those who are calling for protection for students, like Lance, who are bullied at Jefferson High. He has not yet been willing even to acknowledge that Lance was reportedly bullied, or even that he was gay. Perhaps he thinks that this would smear Lance’s reputation.

In January, the Echo Press titled its editorial “Lessons from the death of an 18-year-old” and set out to lecture on what others could learn. But it’s time for Edenloff to look at the situation and see what lessons are there for him.

He would do well to ask himself what, exactly, is the role of a newspaper in today’s instant media society. While newsprint once could serve as community scold and publisher of opinion, that role has now been taken over by blogs and social media.

The real value of newspaper media is that unlike instant media they – at least in theory – publish hard facts. They do background and talk to source and try and see a bigger picture. Newspaper reporting is presumed to be fact-checked and accurate. This is what differentiates them from much of the blogosphere.

But what value is a newspaper that prints known falsehoods rather than facts? If the Echo Press has no more accuracy than the most agenda-driven and biased of bloggers, then it no longer has any value or purpose.

Obamas Speak Out Against Bullying

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2011
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will host an anti-bullying conference at the Whte House tomorrow which will be streamed live at WhiteHouse.gov. The conference includes teachers, students, and community leaders, and will include online live chats. In preparation for the conference, the President and First Lady recorded this Facebook message.

You can submit questions here, and you can RSVP for a “Facebook live” chat here. There’s also more information at StopBullying.gov.

Last October, President Obama released a video for the “It Gets Better” campaign, aimed at stemming the epidemic of youth suicides brought on by bullying.

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