Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lori Drew, Megan Had it Coming: All Big Internet Stories Start as Local Ones

The Internet is a big place and stretches over the world.

It ties together people from America with those in England, France, China, Japan, Australia: in short, every nation on earth.

Although the big stories on the Internet often happen in New York, LA, Hollywood, London and other big cities, sometimes they originate in much smaller locales.

And they almost always start with a single individual who hears or sees something and tells someone else. Sometimes, that single individual is a reporter where that 'something' happened.

That's apparent after reading the latest from Steve Pokin, the journalist who reported the original Megan Meier story for the St. Charles Suburban Journal.

The Megan Meier story, her online harassment by "Josh", a fake boy created in the household of Meier's neighbor, Lori Drew and the subsequent uproar and outrage, swept over the nation a few days after the story appeared on November 11, 2007.

On November 18, a blog appeared with the name "Megan Had it Coming".

The blog's author claimed first to be "Kristen", then on December 3, the author published a post entitled "I'm Lori Drew".

For most of those who read and reacted to the Megan Meier story, this was a story with more twists and turns than a best-selling novel or TV movie. It inspired countless posts on countless blogs across the Internet, and in some cases, calls for justice for Megan Meier.

Particularly, readers of those blogs responded with an outpouring of comments, most of which were of the outraged variety.

For Steve Pokin, the saga of Megan Meier's MySpace Suicide and the subsequent happenings is different one: a local story. It happened to local people in a place with which he is familiar.

"Megan Meier--it's a local story for us," commented Pokin.

The people affected were local people. The businesses contacted were local businesses.

This is Steve Pokin's latest article, dated December 8, 2007.

POKIN AROUND: Who is 'Kristen'? And who, really, is 'Lori Drew'? Let the Investigation Begin

"I'm Lori Drew" is the introduction to a Dec. 3 posting on the inflammatory blog "Megan Had It Coming."

The blog's creation Nov. 18 was a painful and sad moment in a story with enough pain and sorrow for a lifetime.

Megan Meier, a 13-year-old who lived in Dardenne Prairie, took her life in October 2006 not knowing that Josh Evans, the 16-year-old boy who was mean to her on MySpace, was not real. Instead, he was created as part of a hoax played out by neighbors down the street and an 18-year-old girl.And now the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, with its highly regarded computer forensics department, will try to find out who stooped so low.

"The matter is under investigation," Lt. Craig McGuire said. "Where that is going to lead us, we don't know."

Will it lead to Lori Drew? The real Lori Drew? The one in Dardenne Prairie?

Absolutely not, says James L. Briscoe, Drew's attorney.

"Someone claims to be her," Briscoe says. "It's not her. She has not done anything anywhere. So that makes it pretty simple."

Briscoe on Friday released a statement that, in part, said: "Any internet message that purports to be a member of the Drew family is being managed by an impostor and undoubtedly is being done for the purpose of further damaging the Drews' reputation."

Then who is it?

Some insider? Someone close to the story? Someone in the Waterford Crossing neighborhood?

Or will investigators discover this dismaying chapter was penned by someone a thousand miles away who'd read about the case and had no personal connection to it?

Will it be someone who, for whatever reason - maybe there wasn't anything good on TV that night - sat down at a keyboard to see how much anger, hate and sadness could be set in motion?

The debate in the blogosphere is whether this was really Lori Drew. Some argue it must be. There was so much detail, they say.

I read the posting and, for many reasons, I say it's not.

The "Lori Drew" post ends this way:

"The final word from authorities has come down that there will be no charges, so I don't have to remain silent. There's no point in hiding anymore. The internet has made it clear that mob revenge must prevail, even if there's no justice in it. So be it.

"Here I am internet. Come get me."

Can you imagine anyone in Lori Drew's position saying that?

I can't.

But if it's not Lori Drew, asks Randy Bierce, who in August created the blog "Death By 1000 Papercuts," why hasn't the real Lori Drew called Google and demanded that "Megan Had It Coming" be taken down?

"Lori Drew could have this blog shut down at the touch of the button," says Bierce, who blogs as Mondoreb and, at times, as Randy Richochet, in an office near Pittsburgh.

His blog has covered extensively the Megan Meier story, as well as the controversy surrounding "Megan Had It Coming."

Bierce says he and co-workers are split on whether the person posting as "Lori Drew" is really Lori Drew.

"The question is, 'Why would anybody in their right mind do that?'" he said. "But the reaction to the whole story is why would anybody do what she did in the first place?"

"Megan Had It Coming" falls within, which is owned by Google. A spokesman for Google on Friday responded to my questions via e-mail.

According to Google's Terms of Service, although negative and distasteful content is allowed, it is a violation to impersonate someone by using their real name. (Impersonating someone by using a nickname, handle or screen name is allowed.)

"When we are notified of the existence of content that may violate our Terms of Service, we act quickly to review it and determine whether it actually violates our policies," according to the Google spokesman. "If we determine that it does, we remove it immediately. We are currently reviewing an impersonation claim related to this blog."

The "I'm Lori Drew" poster also claimed to be the same person who started the blog. The creator, in that first post, wrote in the persona of a teenage girl who called herself Kristen, acknowledging that Kristen was not her real name.

Kristen claimed she and Megan were "sort of friends," and she called Megan a "drama queen" just as likely to have killed herself for not getting enough to eat at dinner.

Predictably, others responded with shock and anger and accused "Kristen" of being the real Lori Drew.

It makes me wonder: Who writes this stuff? For what purpose? Just to do evil?

Bierce explained that "trolls" are people who have no connection to a story but post comments simply to pour gasoline on a burning controversy.

Bierce said his analysis of postings from "Kristen" and "Lori Drew" indicates that Kristen, after making that first entry, did not post for several days. That behavior is unlike a typical "troll," he said.

On the other hand, "Lori Drew" posted and responded for several hours until, apparently, he or she quit following an avalanche of response. This would more closely fit the "troll" pattern.

Bierce said he expects law enforcement to eventually ascertain who really posted as "Kristen" and who really posted as "Lori Drew."

Ron and Tina Meier, who are divorcing in large part because of Megan's death, support the investigation by the sheriff's department.

Ron said the blog puts his daughter in an untrue, negative light.

"I am just glad that they are looking into this stuff and treating it more seriously," he said. "I don't know if it's Lori Drew who did it. I believe not."

Tina Meier sees irony in that someone posing as Lori Drew could possibly be charged under a new Dardenne Prairie law created in response to Megan's death and the MySpace hoax behind it.

Tina wants the sheriff's department to pursue not only this case, but also all local cases where there's a complaint of cyberspace harassment, bullying or impersonation.

The real Lori Drew has not complained to law enforcement.

Jack Banas, the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney, said he asked the sheriff's department to investigate the blog after being questioned by a TV reporter.

"I have not talked to Mrs. Drew about this at all," Banas said.

He would not comment on what the possible violation might be.

"I'm not going to speculate on what crime it might be or what it might not be because I don't know until it is investigated," Banas said.

To read more Steve Pokin, Pokin Around, the first entries are on the Megan Meier/Lori Drew story.

The search box can also be used for finding earlier articles he did on the story.

The debate continues to rage over the Internet, among people hundreds and thousands of miles from Dardenne Prairie and O'Fallon and nearby St. Louis.

"After this dies down, we'll still be here covering what happens here", Pokin quietly said on Friday.

Megan Meier's story is known in countries the world over: DBKP alone has had readers from 131 countries read at least one story on Megan Meier and the subsequent story of Lori Drew, Megan's parents, and the Megan Had it Coming blog.

Meanwhile, Steve Pokin will continue to report on what remains for him, a local story about local people.

by Mondoreb


Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.

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