By Amanda Woods
It takes a powerful story to inspire people, and Christian blogger Becca Beushausen from Chicago, Ill. had just that story, or so it seemed.
In her blog last summer, Beushausen told the Internet community that she was pregnant with a terminally ill child, yet because of her anti-abortion views and strong Christian values, she decided to carry the baby full-term. Beushausen’s emotion-stirring life story prompted many to come to her aid.
Her supporters were devastated to find out that baby “April” passed away only a few hours after childbirth, just as Beushausen had feared.
It could’ve been a captivating, heart-wrenching story – if it were true. A reader of Beushausen’s blog, a dollmaker, pointed out that a picture of the deceased child on Beushausen’s blog was not a baby girl – it was instead a plastic doll.
As soon as the news about Beushausen’s hoax became public, I snatched it up as my blog topic for the day. I concluded my post with the question: “Knowing the truth about Beushausen’s hoax, would you ever see her in the same light again? Would you ever read her blog again, or view anything she writes as true?”
In all honesty, I didn’t know how to answer that question myself. The Christian side of me wanted to forgive Beushausen; l could only imagine the kind of emotional distress she was facing.
But the journalistic side of me was infuriated – this woman misled the public! That’s no trifling matter.
I always knew deceit was wrong, especially deceit of millions of readers. But upon reading Beushausen’s story, I came to understand the far-reaching effect of lying to the public.
Journalists are not innocent of such deceit — take the Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke scandals for example. But with blogging and citizen journalism on the rise, I’m concerned that stories like Beushausen’s will become more common.
Chicago Tribune. “I didn’t know how to stop. … One lie led to another.”Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand,” Beushausen told the
Just how much do ordinary people crave the title of “cyber-lebrities?” Is online popularity suddenly more important than the basic ethical standard of honesty?