Kathy English, Public Editor for the Toronto Star newspaper, wrote a cryptic article recently on March 11:
In summary, a self-described “web marketing consultant” asked Star reporter David Graham to remove a news report written by Graham from the Star website. “Web dude” claimed that he was hired, by the father of the woman who was the subject of the report, to improve the woman’s Internet reputation following the damaging news report by Graham. “Webdude” further said that he was paid $600 for the job, but would split it 50-50 with Graham, if Graham removes the news story from the Star website. Graham refused and notified English, and as a result English wrote her article, discussing the ethical issues raised by the offer. English did not disclose the name of “webdude” or the woman.
I was interested in this because 1) I do recall reading about initial story when it came out in 2009, and 2) the actions of “webdude”, had it happened in Hong Kong, would likely have been an offence against the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance there; in other words, had the Toronto Star been a Hong Kong newspaper, the Independent Commission Against Corruption would probably be involved in a criminal investigation of the matter by now.
So I decided to refresh my memory of the reported event. I know, from English’s column, that the report was written by David Graham, and the situation involved a red dress. So, I googled ”David Graham” red dress. I looked for and found the Toronto Star story in the search results:
So what happened back in 2009 was, Deena Pantalone wore a nice red dress to a party, and when she was asked where she got the dress, she claimed it was vintage or by Christian Dior (depending on which reporter asked the question), but it turned out that she bought it from Champagne and Cupcakes. Once people discovered that Pantalone failed to give proper credit, she was vilified on the Internet. Pantalone did make amends with Caroline Lim, designer and owner of Champagne and Cupcakes, by apologizing. However, according to “webdude”, people are still talking about this affair, and Deena Pantalone’s name continues to be associated on the Internet with the misattributed red dress:
The Toronto Star story is listed high in the search results, which was the reason why “webdude” was very interested in having it un-published. What “webdude” failed to consider was that his attempted bribe was definitely unethical, and possibly criminal in certain jurisdictions.
But the important matter concerns Deena Pantalone. We know these historical facts:
1. She said something wrong to reporters;
2. She apologized to the injured party (Caroline Lim); and
3. Indications are that the injured party was satisfied with the resolution.
As Jesus said in John 8:7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” I’m sure that every one of us has said something wrong sometime in our lives. There will also be times when we forgot to give credit where credit is due. So, to those who continue to hold Deena Pantalone with less regard because of the red dress misattribution, even though she has already resolved the error with Caroline Lim, my question is, are you sure that you are perfect yourself? If you were to make a mistake yourself, which has been resolved, do you want it to still affect your social standing years later? Would you want to be judged by the same standard that you are applying today to Ms. Pantalone?
Let us give Deena Pantalone a break, because we all make mistakes.
P.S. I receive no compensation for writing this post. If anyone wants to pay money after reading this, I recommend making a donation to Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention. After all, the party where Ms. Pantalone wore the beautiful red dress was a fundraiser for this charity.
Tags: Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention, bribery, Caroline Lim, Champagne and Cupcakes, corruption, David Graham, Deena Pantalone, ethics, Google, ICAC, Independent Commission Against Corruption, journalism, Kathy English, Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, reputation, search engine optimization, toronto, Toronto Star, web marketing, website