Doernberg's disgust: How bullied bus lady got Charlottesville boost
The 68-year-old bus monitor who was viciously bullied by a group of New York middle-schoolers has a Charlottesville native to thank for helping push the video viral, a media maelstrom that prompted a half million dollars in donations from viewers horrified by her ordeal.
"Everyone who saw it had a huge emotional reaction," says Wesleyan University senior Ben Doernberg, who first spotted the video of a crying Karen Klein being verbally abused on the social news website Reddit and expected it to quickly become national news.
When it didn't, Doernberg says, he used an online tool called Storify to gather outrage for a posting, and then things quickly went "crazy."
Popular websites Gawker and Mashable linked to his collection, and soon traditional publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were citing him as well. When the Huffington Post embedded his post in its own story with a link to donations, the money for Klein, which started as a vacation fund set up by Toronto resident Max Sidorov, ballooned from under $2,000 to nearly $650,000.
Doernberg's web hits skyrocketed to 1.5 million.
"I never thought I'd have a post with more than a million hits," says Doernberg, son of Fairness.com founder Dan Doernberg and writer Rachel Unkefer (she the winner of the Hook's 2009 short fiction contest).
Doernberg says he's happy for Klein, who has since received apologies from some of the kids and their parents– and who should be getting one heck of a payday as a result of the public outpouring of support.
As for Doernberg, the college student jokes that he's already peaked as a blogger. "I've set a pretty high bar for myself," he laughs.