Friday, November 20, 2009

how to beat the tabloids

amidst all the fall-out of the Belle de Jour story, I loved yesterday's report in the Guardian, saying that a fellow blogger alerted her when the Daily Mail got wind of it. The clever chap called Darren had figured out her identity from the fact that she appeared to be an experienced blogger even when she started blogging as BDJ, so he looked round the small circle of people in the UK blogging scene and found the right one. He set up a website which casually mentioned both her real name and her pseudonym. At the time this was of course the only website to do so (technically called a GoogleWhack), so anybody searching for both names would end up on his site and register in his visitor stats. So he could sound the alarm when the Daily Mail computers showed up, and Brooke Magnanti was able to out herself before becoming a trophy on the Mail's wall.

Which goes to show -- UK prime ministers past, present, and future take note! -- that one can beat the tabloid press if one is clever enough.

PS With hindsight, there is a clue in her publication list too. Four of the seven scientific papers she co-authored have a title starting with the word "sex". I admit that the papers are not about sex, but about sex-specific effects in cancer epidemiology, but she could have used the term gender-specific ?

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