The power of collaborative citizen journalism (or, another legal letter)

I think we’ve gotten two legal requests since we started Weblogs, Inc. The first was from Microsoft which was dropped after a bunch of discussion. Today I’m dealing with the second.

Ironically, the issues comes up at the same time as I was quoted in MIT Technology Review about the power of CCJ (an acronym I gave the journalist for collaborative citizen journalism), and how together we can find the truth.

One of our bloggers at BloggingBaby recently reported on how much he loved a certain baby crib on the sitethe Amby. Shortly after that readers pointed him to some comments on a message board in which someone claimed the crib was dropping metal shavings into the eyes of her baby. So, weposted about the message board conversation.

Then we got a legal letter saying the claims were false so we immediately got that information to our readers along with the original message board posts in a third post.Now, we were clear to say in our original post that these claims on a message board. However, just to be extra clear we added a ? to the title and added an extra alleged in the textjust to make it even *more* clear.

Our goal is to find the truth after all, and the dialog between companies, readers, and bloggers is key to achieving that goal.

Today the law firm representing the company faxed us again demanding we take down the posts. I spoke to the attorney on the phone and he said we had to take it down because it was false. So, I asked him to tell me what was false and he said the women’s claims.I explained that we never reportedher claims as anything more thenummmclaims.

Additionally, I told the attorney for Amby we were doing an interview with the women in question (she told us Amby is suing her) and we would love to get a statement from them. He told me that he spoke to a “medical professional” at the hospital where the baby was taken at that no shavings were found so I should take down the false information.

So, I explained that we never said anything false: we said these were the womens’ claims!

If anyone has any information on the claims please let me know. Our goal is to present a forum where all sides of a story can be heard with the hope that the truth will emerge.

Here is the latest letter from the attorney (right mouse click and view image for close up) and an email I just sent him.

amby letter page 2

amby letter page 3

Andrew,

Nice speaking with you today.

We certainly want to get as much of your side of the story out there as possible. In fact, our blogger first wrote about the product because he is a fan of it!

We are taking the time to speak with Tracy Ree and getting her side of the story as I mentioned. We’ve never presented Tracy Ree’s claims as anything more than claims on a message board.

At your request we will continue following the story and make sure it is as fair and clear as possible. If you have an official statement please let me know. If not we can put your letter to us up on the site.

If you can give us any information beyond the fact that you spoke to a “medical professional” at “Vanderbuilt Childrens Tenesse” and they said there were no metal shavings found that would be helpful to us. Perhaps you can ask the doctor there to call me?

If there is any way to make the coverage more accurate or fair please don’t hesitate to email or call meor you can post to the comment form below the story.

best regards,

Jason McCabe Calacanis
CEO, Weblogs, Inc.
310-828-8284

Leave a Reply