Streisand Effect Derails Man's Analog Plan To Buy Up All The Newspapers Detailing His DWI Arrest

from the oops dept

The concept of buying up all the newspapers in town to avoid some embarrassing story or picture of oneself is old humor. The concept, featured in sitcoms of yester-yore, relies on a couple of things: newspapers being the single source of a story or photo and for news stories to not travel quickly nor beyond the insular community in which they occurred. Because of that, the joke doesn’t really work in a hyperconnected world with digital media.

This was a lesson painfully learned by Joseph Talbot of Newark, it seems. Talbot, an otherwise apparently well-respected businessman, was arrested recently for driving while intoxicated. Understandably, he was embarrassed upon learning that news of his arrest had been written up in the local newspaper. His solution was to deploy the sitcom-level chicanery previously discussed.

Several Newark store clerks told the Times of Wayne County they saw Talbot buy hundreds of copies of the newspaper over the weekend, said Ron Holdraker, the editor and owner of newspaper. He estimated Talbot purchased somewhere between 900 and 1,000 copies of the paper from at least eight locations.

Holdraker, who graduated from Syracuse University in 1974, said the newspapers cost about $1.25 each, meaning Talbot would have spent at least $1,125 to buy the papers.

And that’s roughly when the Streisand Effect took over. Talbot may now be wondering how much it costs to buy up all the internets, because the once-mundane and localized story of his arrest in the community newspaper has instead become a far more widespread story about his attempt to cover it up, featured across many websites. Spending over a thousand dollars to buy up the local papers is one thing. Trying to silence all of these internet sites would likely be far more expensive. Our own price tag, for instance, is a hundred million and one dollars, and we’re likely to be on the cheap end of things.

Look, there’s no joy in understanding that Talbot’s emarrassment has multiplied because of his admittedly hilarious attempt at a coverup, but the world does need to understand that attempts to hide information in this manner will only result in it being further spread.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Streisand Effect Derails Man's Analog Plan To Buy Up All The Newspapers Detailing His DWI Arrest”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ninja (profile) says:

“Look, there’s no joy in understanding that Talbot’s emarrassment has multiplied because of his admittedly hilarious attempt at a coverup, but the world does need to understand that attempts to hide information in this manner will only result in it being further spread. “

I kind of feel sorry for the guy as his “crime” is pretty mundane. But hell yes there is joy in Streisand. Otherwise you wouldn’t be the one writing about them when they happen.

So, cheers for the inevitable next Streisand Effect! Because people never learn.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I kind of feel sorry for the guy as his “crime” is pretty mundane.”

It gets better!

“After being brought to a state police office in Lyons, Talbot refused to give a breath sample and would not let troopers take his fingerprints or photo, saying he didn’t want to end up in the local newspaper, according to state police. He was then charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration in addition to the DWI charge.”

So, his first attempt to stay out of the newspapers made the story more newsworthy and thus more likely to be reported than a simple DWI charge. Then, he tries to remove evidence of the first report, but does so in a way that ensures that the story is reported and repeated in ways way beyond the reach of the original story.

It’s not just Streisand, it’s someone repeatedly digging a hole to try and avoid repercussions from their actions. .. and failing so hard that a story of no interest to people who don’t know him professionally or personally is being repeated to an international audience.

I don’t feel sorry for him, he’s brought this on himself because he couldn’t deal with the consequences of his original actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

He also did not think his cunning plan all the way through. All the newspapers he bought came from deliveries to public stores; he did not account for newspapers delivered to private homes, of which there were a larger amount, all of which were delivered to a wider reading area than the stores from which he bought all the papers.

I would feel bad for this guy, except he was arrested for DUI. He deserved the name-and-shame of a public arrest and his face in the paper. That he took ridiculous (and unsuccessful) steps to avoid his crime coming to light tells me that he cares more about himself than about the people he could have hurt by driving while intoxicated. He deserves no sympathy. He deserves only humilitation and shame.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“He also did not think his cunning plan all the way through”

Well yeah, it was doomed to failure any way he played it. Even if he had bought every copy and stopped every subscription from going out direct from the publisher, that wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. People would have complained about not being able to get a copy, which would have led to an investigation revealing what he’d done, and they might even have been able to print more to meet demand on the day anyway depending on their setup. On top of that, the newspaper does have a website, which did report on the original arrest ( So, even if his plan to remove all physical copies had worked, the news was still public available.

There’s probably more to the story, as I don’t think anyone’s going to be this desperate unless he knows that the charge will have serious consequences for him over and above what a judge might give him. But, it’s clearly all about his DUI not being made public so I hope he enjoys his new international audience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You might think it’s a mundane crime; at the other end of the spectrum are people like me, who instinctively feel that “reckless and deliberate endangerment of life by intoxication while in control of a fast-travelling death-machine on a public highway” is a terrifying and abhorrent act.
I can’t see that there are many useful penalties against it in the US legal system, but it would certainly provoke a litany of “never going to employ him, never going to work with him, never going to buy from his store, never going to sell to him, wouldn’t let him marry my daughter” social consequences from my side of the room.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re both right. On the one hand, it is a mundane crime in the dictionary sense (“common; ordinary; banal; unimaginative”) – as in it’s something that wouldn’t get a huge amount of attention outside of his personal/professional circle. Whatever your opinion of it, an arrest for it is not generally that notable. On the other hand, you’re correct in the sense that it’s a crime that should result in some real consequences since he did needlessly endanger those around him.

If guilty, of course. From what I saw it doesn’t look like he’s been in court for DWI yet. Which would make all this extra hilarious if he was actually found not guilty of the original crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He could just buy up a couple thousand newspapers when it is published that he is innocent. Give them to all his acquaintances and get the Internetz all abuzz about his glorious innocence.

Oh who am I kidding, the reporters are only going to wrote up a follow up article if he is convicted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’m thinking he panicked. It’s possible his job is on the line, never mind any hot water he’s going to be in with his family, community… His license is toast, and I’m betting because he was acting all obnoxious he may be seeing some jail time on top of the fines.

I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I do agree with you. But I’m assuming this was not recurrent (ie: it was a slip). It’s wrong, he should face punishment yes but it could have just been an err.

However I have a problem with your “let’s-nuke-this-guy’s-life” way of thinking. He should be punished? Absolutely. In a way that destroys his life? Not unless he does it repeatedly.

If he does it again after the first lighter punishment then we may talk about a few years in jail or even something more severe if he keeps doing anyway. But for a single offense? A fine, some educational courses and community service should suffice.

If we punish in a draconian way we leave people with no recourse but to turn to crime to survive. We don’t want that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I have a problem with your “let’s-nuke-this-guy’s-life” way of thinking. He should be punished? Absolutely. In a way that destroys his life? Not unless he does it repeatedly.”

We apply harsh social and legal punishments to deter others from doing what he did. He should, at the bare minimum, lose both his license to drive (for several months) and the respect of his friends and family (for a lot longer).

I have no pity for this man. He made the decision to drive while intoxicated, and it only takes one “minor mistake” – one night of driving under the influence – to wreck someone else’s life. And even if this were just one “slip”, how can we know if this is just the first such “slip”? It is better to teach him a harsh lesson about what his actions could have wrought upon others than let him off with a slap on the wrist.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

My opinion on this is that it doesn’t look good… but there could be perfectly reasonable explanations for what happened, he’s actually innocent of the DWI (but reacted badly because he knows how some people react to the mere accusation) or circumstances that make it not worth destroying his life over. Let’s wait for his day in court before calling for his head on a pike.

It certainly looks like he knows he’s screwed anyway, but I guarantee there’s more to the story here that will probably come out later. I’ll try to make a mental note to check back in a few weeks and see what the real story is.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Harsh but not permanently debilitating unless it’s a severe crime or it’s recurrent. That’s what life sentences, capital punishment or long terms in jail are for. As for “we can’t know if it was this, that, first or recurrent” I just wasn’t as fast as you to call for his head on a pike (to paraphrase Paul). I stand firmly by the notion that the punishment should be enough to deter but not to cripple depending on the circumstances.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I absolutely agree with you. I had the two sides of the equation near me: one friend was driving drunk and killed a person and another friend was killed by a drunk driver. When I said I feel sorry it’s because from what I read it was just a slip, he wasn’t a bad person and doesn’t do bad things generally.

I also don’t know how drunk he was. Here you’ll get the full force of law if you have more than 0 alcohol in your blood whereas in the UK it’s incredibly high (0,8 mg/L in your breath if memory serves). In both cases you aren’t drunk enough to actually cause accidents. So yeah, I agree with you but I evaluate the story taking into account other factors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have never had that level of crime happen to me but personally, I don’t think I would feel justice if he was sent to prison. Basically, two lives are destroyed instead of just one. Instead, perhaps work it out as some sort of restitution for the crime. Maybe he gets his wages garnished 5-10% for the next 10-20 years, that goes to the grieving family. It would be a punishment for the drunk driver but doesn’t destroy his life and then the money may help make living easier and/or being able to start over. Prison, while needed, is currently used far too often and only ends up costing tax payers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Shut Techdirt up for (x)

I wonder what the price elasticity is.

Apparently, for the requested 1 million, there is zero demand. How many takers would take TD a day off for 100.000, that Paypal guy and Hogan? For 10.000, Steele perhaps?

What about a measly 1000, Shiva A.?

The last offer could still be a good deal for both parties. A. would show the judge he’s done everything to silence the ‘bad news’ before going to court. MM of course would finance his defense 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Shut Techdirt up for (x)

Personally, I think it is a very silly thing to say.

Mike has shown that free speech does have a price and apparently someone is now negotiating that price with him. I understand the offer is negative 15 million.

Like the old joke says, we have established character, now we are haggling over price.

Doug says:

This one's a little petty

> Look, there’s no joy in understanding that Talbot’s
> emarrassment has multiplied because of his admittedly
> hilarious attempt at a coverup, but the world does need
> to understand that attempts to hide information in this
> manner will only result in it being further spread.

The Streisanding stories on Techdirt are generally of the sort where someone tries to use copyright or some other tool of digital information suppression to hide info, and in that respect fit right in to Techdirt’s bailiwick.

This one may be amusing because of they guy’s failure to be even at all sophisticated. But I think it’s a bit lame for it to have ended up here. There’s no real link to the important issues that Techdirt generally concerns itself with. The post just seems to be mocking the guy, and then justifying it with a lame claim about the world **needing** to understand the Streisand effect?

Misusing copyright and patent law are important topics. The Streisand effect per se is not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fair?

If this muppet was indeed swerving across lanes and went down the hard-shoulder for a spell (with a cop looking on no less), I’d want him off the road, quotas or not.

I’m leaning towards the view that the drivers side airbag should be replaced with a 12″ metal spike sticking straight out. Might make people take driving a little more seriously…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...