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Gagging the internets

Posted by putsimply on 13th October 2009

For the first time in history, a newspaper has been gagged from reporting parliament. Specifically the Guardian was banned from reporting a particular question.

The following is taken from the story on the paper’s website; “Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found. The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament.”

In the 1970s a landmark ruling made it clear that newspapers can report whatever is said in parliament without ‘fear of contempt.’

However in the 1970s the internet and more importantly social media didn’t exist.

Unsurprisingly the news is all over Twitter and the blogosphere, and the best news is that several people have found the question that The Guardian has been gagged from reporting – and the news is currently being plastered all over the internet. In fact the name of the company in question is the top trending topic on Twitter at the moment.

This is known as ‘The Streisand effect,’ or as Alex mentioned in an earlier blog, this can also be classed as ‘Doing a De Burgh.

While the lawyers at Carter-Ruck may have stopped The Guardian from running this story today, it’s impossible to stop the news getting out there somehow. By setting the lawyers onto The Guardian they’ve drawn even more attention to it and now the news has spread world-wide. It’s possible to stop one newspaper from running a story, but stopping thousands of people all across Twitter from talking about something is impossible. Yet another lesson in how not to keep a news story buried.