Sunday Times acting news editor Nicholas Hellen had a scoop in his hands: the identity of Abby Lee, the well-known pseudonymous sex blogger behind Girl With a One-Track Mind (and now the author of a book by the same name). Problem: he didn’t yet have her cooperation. So in August, he played a little of the hardball that has made the British press so beloved by the people they cover, and e-mailed her what appear to be some not-too-thinly-veiled threats.
We propose to publish the fact that you are 33 and live in [my address] -London, and that your mother, [her name], is a [her address] -based [her profession]. The article includes extracts from your book and blog, relevant to your career in the film industry. We also have a picture of you, taken outside your flat.
On New Year’s Day, she posted the email to her blog. Since then, her blogging fans have been venting their outrage on their own blogs… and hyperlinking “Nicholas Hellen” back to the post on Lee’s blog.
Which, not accidentally, is now the number one hit on a Google search for his name.
Whatever you think of Hellen’s ethics, one thing’s clear: in the blogging era, unwanted exposure can easily become a two-way street.