Publicity is a double-edged sword. The notoriety and recognition can be leveraged to improve credibility and marketability from the smallest fish in the sea to A-list celebrities. However, that same fame can bring shame, make people targets of smears and cause people to live without privacy.

Take for example Alex Shivraj. His name has appeared in divergent reporting over the last decade. In 2010, Alex was credited with assisting s man in becoming a successful entrepreneur even before either student had graduated. This publicity came as he, Alex Shivraj, was thanked within the body of an article by at The Medium. His reputation seemed to be on the rise and the notoriety was welcome.

Fast forward five years, however, and the same individual, Alex Shivraj of Mississauga, was the target of a prank that brought him shame and a false reputation. The Toronto Star published a false report by an intern that suggested that Alex was involved in a car-sex scandal.  This was not true and the paper later retracted the story and apologized.

“A Sept. 19 article about using social media to find locations for car sex in Toronto attributed statements about finding places for car sex and other activities during his high school years to a source who identified himself to the Star through email as Alex Shivraj, 28, a Mississauga resident.
“This was a mistake. None of the statements attributed to Alex Shivraj were made by Alex Shivraj and should not have been attributed to him. Alex Shivraj did not communicate with the Star. Furthermore, at no time did the Star reach out to Alex Shivraj for comment on the article in question.
“The Star apologizes to Alex Shivraj for these errors.”

This story was poorly sourced and usual journalistic methods were ignored. The intern suggested that she learned from her mistakes, but that’s little consolation when a person’s reputation has been dragged through the mud. It is hard to get the genie back in the bottle, which tells us all how important it is to get our facts right when we are pursuing stories in the media.

The pen is mightier than that sword, but just like the sword, the pen can be useful or destructive. When we use the pen, we must use it responsibly, otherwise, the might that comes with the pen can cause unwarranted damage and cost us our credibility.

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