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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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Daniel Morgan Deleted Scene 2


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She had a friend.

June 11, 2007


Daniel was on his laptop when he got an e-mail from his agent, Nelson. The subject line read "Check this out." Intrigued, he opened it.


The message body was small and to-the-point, with an Internet link at the end. "You should check this article out, let me know if you find anything misattributed or even slanderous. I've read it already, just passing it to you."


He clicked on the link. It opened up a page on Wikipedia.


Daniel knew about Wikipedia, but not much. Unlike today's younger generations, he'd been brought up on library books and physical encyclopedias, and he had little use or interest in the online version. By a large contrast, his children read it virtually every day. At the same time, he never expected, in all his life, to be information for other people.


Like the Daniel Morgan article on Wikipedia he'd just opened.


He read the opening paragraph: "Daniel Matthew Morgan (born May 23, 1958) is a Canadian television host, broadcaster, media personality, and actor. He started his career at CJOH, an Ottawa-based television station, and from there made guest appearances in several films and television series throughout the 90s. In 1999, he suffered a minor car accident and has since hosted the Canadian morning talk show This Morning with Daniel Morgan."


Daniel was stricken. He'd never read an informational or biographical article about himself before. He knew there'd definitely been background information published on him during interviews for radio or print, but he never expected anyone to be interested enough to put it up online, in an easily retrievable place. He couldn't recall ever giving out his middle name or birthdate. He never regarded himself as a "media personality." He was just a guy with a talk show and a couple of appearances on TV.


He read the rest of the article, which touched upon his early life (His parents' names, plus Beatrice and Leonard, were mentioned) and his career. He hardly remembered working behind-the-scenes at CJOH, yet the article seemed to. What he did remember only partly matched what the writer had written; not everything was right. To his shock, in the "Personal Life" section near the bottom, his children's names were included, as well as the general area in which he lived.


He read the small subsection detailing his accident. "On May 15, 1999, Daniel Morgan ran a red light at the intersection with Fisher Avenue and Baseline Road, crossing the path of an oncoming van." It was written as if it was copied from a newspaper. "The van struck the car he was driving at 45km/h, on the driver's side. Paramedics found him unconscious and bleeding, and he had multiple contusions on his skull and breastbone. The collision caused him a dislocated shoulder and almost broke his neck. He was rushed to the Ottawa Hospital, Civic campus. The driver of the van suffered minor whiplash. The cause of the accident was ruled as distraction and inattention on Morgan's part, due to his use of a mobile phone and distraction caused by a row of houses to the east of the road." The section went on to talk about his loss of self-confidence and break from acting and television appearances.


Feeling weird and vulnerable, Daniel got up and walked away from the laptop and paced throughout the house. No one was home yet - it was mid-afternoon and the kids would be home from school in a few minutes. Did they know they were on Wikipedia? Who had read the article? Was it popular? How famous, by any standards, was he?


He felt a mix of awe and vulnerability - it was pretty cool to have an article on himself on an online encyclopedia, but at the same time, how did they get all of that info, and how truly revealing was it? How many people he knew had read it?


It was Edwin who came through the door first, and Daniel got straight to the point. "Edwin, have you seen anything familiar on Wikipedia these days?"


Edwin understood immediately. "You mean the article about you?"


"Well, yes."


"It's pretty neat, eh? Even we're on it."


"Well, I don't think it's totally neat. I don't like the idea of your names being on there."


"Why not? Colin put them there."


"Colin? He did that?" Daniel was extremely surprised.


"Well, yeah. Anyone can edit it, you know. He has an account on there. He put our names up. We thought it was neat being the kids of a famous person, so we made it obvious."


"I want them off."


"Why?" Edwin asked, shamefaced.


"Because I don't like that info being public. Can you tell Colin to come see me when he gets home?"


Edwin looked doubtful. "Are you that angry at him?"


"No, I just want to talk to him." Finished, Daniel went into the kitchen while his middle son went upstairs to his room to deal with his school stuff. He gathered his thoughts. He could deal with the article in several ways - he could call Nelson and tell him what he did and didn't like, and let him deal with it - or he could leave it be. Or, and this was probably the easiest way, he could tell Colin how to edit it.


Going through Colin seemed the simplest idea. Maybe he could have Colin manage the article altogether - he did have an account, after all. He could be his secondary agent - like an online publicist or something. That way he wasn't punishing Colin for autonomously editing something he was able to do anyway, and it presented a working ideal that had a positive outcome to serve the both of them.


Colin presented himself at the kitchen door three minutes later. He was quiet and monotonous and extremely timid, expecting his father to have an angry row with him.


"Sit down," Daniel invited, ensuring no threatening tone entered his voice. Daniel, mystified and still thinking he was in trouble, walked like a robot to a chair at the table. Daniel rinsed his hands off at the sink, dried them, and sat down opposite.


"So I got an e-mail from Nelson today about a very interesting article he found on Wikipedia."


"Oh. That."


"Yes. I thought it covered a lot of things - like my middle name, or where we live - "


"Our address isn't on there, I didn't put it on there, if it is that's not me..." Colin interjected at high-speed. Daniel held up his hand. Colin's voice faded away.


"It doesn't matter, address or not, it lists this general area. Listen, I don't even like the article factually saying that I live in Ottawa. But you can't shut everything up, can you?"


"I don't talk about you to everyone - "


"I don't mean it that way, son, I mean generally."


"Oh."


"I looked at the references at the bottom and found some sources, so at least the editors have some actual facts and it's not just words out of nowhere."


"Yes, I'm not the only one who edited it. I made it a bit bigger but otherwise everything else is from other people."


"Right, and I'm fine with that. But I want you to realize that contributing to something where you provide information about someone up for everyone to see, all based on your own personal knowledge, that's inappropriate and inconsiderate. Of who you're writing about, of their privacy and reputation."


Colin stared at his hands, noticeably shamed.


"I was quite surprised. I never expected to see anything like that. Can you imagine how I felt when I read all of it? I read about things I hadn't thought about or done in years, man, and it wasn't even right half the time."


"Okay," Colin said.


"Anyway, I want you to remove some things. Like where we live. Like your brother and sister's names, like your aunt's name. You can leave uncle Leonard on there, I'm sure he has his own article, that's his business, but I want you to do some editing. Is that all right?"


"Fine."


"However - here's the good part: I want you to manage the article."


Colin looked up. "What do you mean?"


"I want you to contribute. I'm asking you to remove things, but if anything that's appropriate comes up, like if I do something new or whatever, you can add it in."


Colin looked hopeful. "You mean, like if you guest-star in a film, I can add it to your filmography?"


Daniel didn't even look at his "filmography." "Yes. And if some idiot vandalizes the article, you can fix it." After all, the entire section on his sexuality and the "secret bathroom meetings with several men over the years" was definitely a misattributed, slanderous tabloid effort that existed as artistic license. Colin could delete that in seconds. "However, there's one condition."


"What's that?"


"You have to source everything you say, whether it be a book or newspaper or anything factual. You can't just use your own knowledge."


"Why not?"


"Because you have no way to prove that, and being my son doesn't count. Use factual sources. Do some real research. It validates the information."


Colin got up, with a spring in his movements. "I'll do that right away, Dad. Thanks."


"Thank you," Daniel said, smiling. "Thanks for contributing." As far as he knew now, it wasn't a problem anymore. He made a mental note to tell Lauren about all of this when she got home, and returned upstairs to his laptop to respond to Nelson.


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Justin Campbell's website: http://justincottawa.blogspot.ca/

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