December 07, 2007
Dardenne Prairie, Mo. (The Weekly Vice) - At last the Megan Meier story can finally be told in it's entirety. The iron curtain of the media, which has fought for over a month to conceal the identity of the adult behind Megan Meier's suicide, has finally dropped it's cloak of secrecy. The jig is up, and its about time.
Although Megan Meier's suicide occurred October 16, 2006, the story was shelved for nearly a year. Officials and attorneys close to the case had advised the parties involved to keep quiet about the case pending the investigation. When officials wrapped up the investigation, it decided against filing charges to the dismay of the Meier family and others who had expected some sort of justice for Megan in the case.
On November 10th, 2007 a journalist for the St. Charles Journal broke the silence, as Tina and Ron Meier finally told Megan's story.
Steve Poken, the journalist who initially published the story, made what he thought was a safeguard decision to NOT publish the name of the adult who spent 6 weeks luring, baiting and manipulating the teen into the downward spiral that eventually claimed her life.
Collectively, all major media outlets adopted the St. Charles Journal's policy of concealing Lori Drew's identity, despite the existence of public records which clearly established the parties involved.
When bloggers tracked down the police report confirming the adult's identity, the blogging community published it's findings much to the frustration of some news services. The media struck back.
Story after story aired, labeling the blogging community as 'Internet Vigilantes'. Some news services berated the blogging community for revealing the name. Others even expressed empathy for the Drew family. Either way, the media regularly demonstrates a willingness to publish names, regardless of whether charges have been filed in a case.
The refusal of news services to publish the name of the perpatrator behind the Megan Meier story clearly deviated from the media norm, which usually doesn't hesitate to print names unless the law bans them from doing so.
A media who normally champions it's freedom of speech rights has rarely resisted divulging information, even when it has resulted in mass violence.
Remember the case of the Muhammad cartoons? News outlets deliberately printed cartoons, knowing that mass outrage would lead to mass violence in Muslim nations. No, I'm sorry. I'm not buying the medias explanations of ethics behind concealing the name here. Either way, the issue is now irrelevant. Major media outlets have finally dropped the charade.
Nearly every cable news channel and dozens of print media news sources have now broadcast the name which was once considered taboo by these same news sources. Some are even publishing photos and video segments of the Drews.
The Vice believes that as the Drew family lawyered up and began talking, the media finally found it's way again. That narrow ethical line news services had previously used to disqualify the posting of Lori Drew's name, suddenly became nonexistent. .
Looking back, the Vice reflects on the twists and turns this case has taken and sees a silver lining here. The media's refusal to tell Megan's story in it's entirety may have very well succeeded in thrusting the story onto the world stage.
Had proper disclosure of the players involved been broadcast early on, thenews cycle would have likely been shorter in duration. By shrouding parts of this story in secrecy, the mystery of it spawned increasing interest.
Although the prosecutors in this case claim that Lori violated no law, very few people believe this. If the case had been brought before a judge, the case could have been disposed of with legal arguments instead of public arguments. Even if the case were not strong enough to result in prosecution, the public might have been more satisfied with the process - even though the same result was achieved.
The Vice believes that the official in the case and the media who sought to sanitize it, in turn did Megan a favor. The issue, which could have been a 2 day sound bite has taken on new life and created an almost cult-like following.
Perhaps a lesson can be learned from this story. Perhaps a silver lining can be found. Whatever the case, it's nice to know the tragic story of Megan Meier has finally been told.