One of the things I love about new media is that there’s a “delete” button. If you screw up a blog post, you can always go back and fix it — or erase the entire thing.
Maybe it’s my journalism school training, but I’ve never removed a whole post.
Today, I just might.
Here’s the story. (And if the link goes nowhere, then I’ve obviously already erased it.) It involved a woman traveling alone in the Caribbean who had an uncomfortable experience during a transfer from her hotel to the airport.
The guest described a fellow passenger in a way some found offensive, because it called attention to his race. I received a fair amount of criticism for allowing her to say what she did, but most of the venom was directed toward her.
She contacted me Monday evening, demanding that I remove all references to her identity.
That would effectively gut the entire post. As I see it, I only have two options: leave it as is or delete it.
I don’t know what to do.
The back story
Before publishing the article, I had several exchanges with the traveler. She told me her story and while researching her case, I found that she had shared her problem on numerous other sites, revealing some or all of her identity.
I contacted her online agency on her behalf, and it answered her complaint, denying her further compensation.
She wasn’t happy with the agency’s firm “no” and asked if there was anything else she could do. Yes, I replied: I could write something about her case. I asked if I could do so, and she agreed.
I mediate many more cases than I write about, and had planned to let this one slide. But sometimes, if a traveler is very insistent, I can be persuaded to move a case into my “cover this” file.
My recollection of our correspondence is that this woman was keen on having something written about her allegedly dangerous Caribbean vacation. In the end, I decided to post something because it served as a cautionary tale about safety and the importance of good planning that other consumers could benefit from.
On the day the post appeared, I was traveling, so I didn’t have time to read every comment that appeared. I normally do. Also, the automatic notification system from Disqus — it emails me every comment that appears — had mysteriously stopped working a few days before. As a result, I didn’t fully appreciate the tone of the responses until this traveler urged me to read them carefully on Monday.
I have to say, I was shocked. And embarrassed.
One of the comments crossed a line. It suggested that the traveler should have been murdered on her vacation. That person had already made another questionable comment on another post.
I deleted the comment and blacklisted the commenter.
Many of other commenters were — how do I say this nicely? — unkind. They accused me of having written about this case to generate page views (wrong — cat videos work much better) and that she was a racist with entitlement issues.