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Journalist ousted from Facebook group by angry Cambridge students


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CambridgeA journalist has been ousted from a Cambridge University Facebook group for posing as a student.

Emma Lowe, of Masons News Agency, posed as a Cambridge student to obtain information from about someone who had previously being injured at a party the Overheard at Cambridge Facebook group.

Her identity as a member of the media soon became apparent, though, much to the discontent of the rest of the group’s members.

After several unsavoury exchanges, Lowe was removed from the group by page admin Zoah Hedges-Stocks, satisfying a number of requests from other members.

"Who's the guy with the glass stuck in his foot on the daily mail?! lol," Lowe enquired about the injured member on Tuesday to spark the row.

As her identity was revealed, Hedges-Stocks, who has worked for both the Daily Mail and coincidentally Masons, led the backlash against the journalist and concluded by suggesting the episode was enough to make her “want to cry.”

"As a journalist who has worked for the Mail [on Sunday] this entire situation/thread makes me want to cry,” the page admin said.

"Emma, I would really suggest you learn not to get into such discussions about the nature of the job because otherwise you are going to have a very stressful career in which you don't get much writing done - and perhaps be less confrontational when talking to the public, who are, after all, not just sources but customers.”

A spokesman for Masons News Agency defended Lowe’s actions, however, insisting that "the use of social media is a key part of investigating stories in journalism today.

"The identity and profile of our reporter was not hidden and clearly stated she is a journalist working for our company and users of the Overheard at Cambridge group were free to view her profile,” the spokesman said.

"There are no restrictions on the social networking site stating the group is private or for students only.

"The post regarding the young man in question following his photograph in the newspapers was an attempt to contact him to give him the opportunity to put his side of the story."

What do you think? Should journalists be free to obtain key information however they need? Or was Lowe acting beyond moral limits? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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