I wrote earlier today about the lifting of the injunction preventing The Guardian from reporting on the question that British Labor MP Paul Farrelly posed on Monday to justice minister Jack Straw—a question involving, in brief, the oil conglomerate Trafigura; a report on the company’s complicity in the 2006 dumping of toxic material off the Ivory Coast, which resulted in the illness of thousands of people; and the media-suit-happy law firm of Carter-Ruck.
The evening brings another angle to the story: The Guardian is crediting Twitter with, as it says, the restoration of freedom of speech.
“Twitter users claim historic victory for the power of the internet after gagging attempt on routine act of journalism triggers race among bloggers to reveal all,” goes the headline of a story posted late this evening, BST.
The Guardian story announcing that it had been restricted by an existing high court order from reporting certain parliamentary proceedings had been published online for just a matter of minutes before internet users began tearing apart the gag.
On Monday evening, blogs and the social networking site Twitter buzzed as users rushed to solve the mystery of who was behind the gagging attempt that less than an hour earlier had prevented the newspaper reporting details of a question tabled by an MP to be answered by a minister later this week.
It would normally have been a routine act of journalism which has never, in memory, been prevented before.
Untroubled by the legal restrictions which had confined the Guardian to reporting at 8.31pm that it had been “prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found”, internet users quickly reported that the gag related to a question by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly concerning the reporting of an incident in which toxic waste was dumped in the Ivory Coast.
[h/t Jay Rosen]Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.