February 23, 2024 at 9:31 am

Journalist Moonlights With A Newsletter That Rubs People The Wrong Way, So They Get Revenge And Get Him Fired

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Reddit/AITA

When you work in a small industry, you have to be pretty careful about what you say and to whom – especially if what you say can be construed as negative talk.

Sometimes, though, people seem to forget.

OP worked for a couple of small online wrestling magazines back in the early(ish) days of the internet.

The internet has evolved quite a lot over the years. Some people may remember usenet groups, I know I do, used to have a lot of fun reading them.

Kind of similar in a way to today’s reddit in a way…no matter what the subject was, someone would have a usenet newsgroup for it.

But unlike todays reddit, it was strictly text. You could download images, but they would take forever to download, and could often be across several different messages…just one of the messages missing, and you wouldn’t get the image.

Things then improved, download speeds slowly got faster, and then there was IRC that came about. IRC saw the same thing…there was chatroom for anything and everything…and if there wasn’t, you could clearly create it.

If you were to try to watch a video over the internet back then, it could take you a couple of hours to download a music video…you get the idea. This is important for the context of the story.

I was a writer on a couple of wrestling newsletters during the mid to late 90’s. We only published our newsletters online…you could have it emailed to you, or go to a website to read it (think we hosted on geocities or tripod).

Both wrestling newsletters were independent of each other, and I used different nicknames on each. One was more a review and preview newsletter, where we would post reviews of the most recent shows/events, talk about current feuds, and talk about what we may think will happen in the next big event.

The other newsletter, was a news and rumours newsletter, with a few fun puzzles/competitions thrown in to keep things interesting.

At the time, you had a few big name wrestling news and rumours websites, and a handful of small ones…I was a writer on one of the small ones. Sometimes we would get news and rumours from the big name websites, giving them credit where appropriate.

Sometimes, we would hear things from people in the business…everyone had their sources of information. And sometimes we would make an educated guess on possible scenarios, based on current trends in the industry.

It did get a bit cut-throat at times, with some newsletters claiming that they broke the news first, when it had already been published in other newsletters first.

And you would even have some newsletters devote all of their time trying to rubbish the other newsletters for publishing false and misleading information. It was rumours…we did not always get it right.

There was some good-natured competition, but overall, people were friendly about it.

Through a couple of readers of my first wrestling newsletter, I learned of a huge surprise in the works for one organisation, which could potentially lead to something happening at a big event coming up.

I won’t mention the surprise, but it involved a person from another sport. No other wrestling newsletter had reported it, so I included it as a rumour on the second wrestling newsletter.

I was instantly rubbished by one of the major wrestling newsletters at the time, publishing a clearly nonsense rumour that would never happen…only for that very same newsletter to publish the exact same rumour two or three days later, and claim to be the first ones to publish it.

This sort of stuff happened all the time, it did not bother me at all.

So when another writer got personal, OP was surprised.

Anyway, I happened to have a few wrestlers who actually read my first newsletter…no big names as such, but a couple of lesser known wrestlers in the big organisations.

I knew who they were, but refused to reveal their identities back then, and refuse to reveal them now. One of them let me know of an unknown fact from a major match a couple of years earlier (it was to do with an injury that happened during a part of the match). This fact had never been published anywhere else at the time. I mentioned that I wrote for another wrestling newsletter, that dealt with news and rumours, and asked if I could repeat the information. The wrestler said sure, but not to credit him. So I go ahead and publish the rumour.

Straight away I had another of the smaller wrestling newsletters say that it was nonsense. They said that it was impossible for the match to have continued, had the injury happened.

They then started a smear campaign on the second newsletter, I was getting spam emails constantly, virus attempts originating from the competition, the competition even went so far as claiming that they had the full story of my wife of 10 years working as a hooker (don’t ask, they were trying to find anything to smear me with).

There was more sinister and disgusting stuff, but I won’t write it here. Why it got so personal, I do not know, but the funny thing was that at the time, I was a 22 year old single university student, and if I had a wife of 10 years who was working as a hooker, I would have had to marry her when I was 12.

But his smear campaign was working, our readership dropped by nearly 50%. It was time to get some revenge, although I had no idea just how far the revenge would end up reaching.

Also, he wanted revenge.

Firstly, I approached one of the bigger wrestling newsletters. They would often run ads at the bottom or rear of their newsletters, for “affiliated” newsletters. I organised a new affiliation with them, removing an affiliation they had with the competition. Small potatoes.

I started promoting the second newsletter heavily on usenet, in some of the wrestling groups…which ultimately led to an increase in our email subscription base, greater than what it was before his smear campaign. This negated any effect that his smear campaign had…but I was hungry for more.

I wanted to shove it where the sun don’t shine, so I contacted those wrestlers who read my first newsletter. I explained the situation to them, and they were happy to help out.

It took a couple of weeks, but eventually I was able to post a link to a 15 second video (hosted on a geocities webpage, as well as on a wrestling usenet group), where the wrestler at the centre of the injury rumour not only confirmed it, but gave a shout out to my second newsletter. While it validated me and my information, it still didn’t shut the other guy up.

No, bigger than that.

Finally, a break. While the guy used an alias for his newsletter, he did actually mention his name a couple of times, and where in the US he attended university.

Using this information, I was able to get a friend in the US to do some searching for me (attended that very same university), and discovered that the guy had actually completed a journalism degree several years earlier.

Further research indicated that he was now working as a reporter for a regional newspaper in the US. His wrestling newsletter must just be a hobby.

So I decided to send all of the information I had, his smear campaign etc, to the newspaper office. I don’t know what, if anything, it would do…but it was worth a shot. About a month later, I got an email back from the newspaper, thanking me for the information.

They discovered that he was using the newspaper’s system to run the wrestling newsletter, which was against their policy, so they fired him. And because the newspaper was part of a chain of regional newspapers across the US, he was going to struggle to find another journalism job.

The newsletter got shut down as well, because without the newspaper’s system to run it, the guy had no way of continuing with the newsletter.

None of this ended up mattering to him in the long run, but he sure did make the other guy’s life harder.

Side note…I ended up finishing with my newsletters not long after anyway. The first newsletter, as I was just a writer for it, I finished up with it when the owner of the newsletter decided to close it down (he didn’t have the time to devote to it due to work commitments).

The second one, I started off as just a writer/contributor, then took over their competitions, then eventually took over the whole newsletter (original owner didn’t want to do it anymore).

But in the end, I was finishing up at university, I had to move on with my career, so I closed it down.

Does Reddit think the punishment fit the crime? Let’s find out!

The top comment says people who engage in smear campaigns deserve what they get.

Source: Reddit/AITA

When you fight dirty, sometimes you run into someone who does it better.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Who knew journalism was so cutthroat?

Source: Reddit/AITA

But everyone loves a happy ending.

Source: Reddit/AITA

The guy was playing with fire.

Source: Reddit/AITA

I mean, sometimes you get the horns.

That’s the risk you run when you challenge the bulls.

If you liked that post, check out this post about a rude customer who got exactly what they wanted in their pizza.