A story published in the Washington Post[“A newspaper vanished from the internet. Did someone pay to kill it?”], along with efforts by my Hook colleagues to draw attention to the article, appears to have prompted a mysterious benefactor to restore The Hook website. Washington Post reporter Paul Fahri tells The DTM that he received an anonymous email from someone calling themselves “F.”
“The Hook has been restored at https://readthehook.net,” F wrote. ” We will remain private and keep the website online against any pressure.”
As detailed in the Washington Post, The Hook website, which had remained online for nearly a decade after the paper closed in 2013, was suddenly shut down this past June. An investigation launched by my former Hook colleagues and I revealed that the publishers of C-Ville Weekly, who owned the rights to the Hook website, had sold readthehook.com and its content to an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum, never bothering to ask what the buyer planned to do with the website. Eventually, we were able to gather enough circumstantial evidence to strongly suggest that the anonymous buyer was Curtis Ofori, who was named in the 2011 Hook cover story “Unsilenced: How this mother fought to protect her daughter… and yours,” a follow-up on rape allegations UVA student Kathryn Russell made against Ofori, a fellow student, in 2004. Ofori had previously tried to have the story removed and unsuccessfully attempted to sue The Hook, twice. The Washington Post’s Fahri took it from there.
A quick search reveals that the new website was created on December 17, 2022 and lists the registrant’s mailing address as Charlestown, KN, the capital of the island of Nevis in the Caribbean; which could protect F from any enforceable copyright challenges. The website appears to be complete, including links to all issues of The Hook, but the site’s internal search engine appears to be disabled.
“We are not the owners of the content, it will stay up even with pressure from the owners.” F wrote, saying they would not comment on how the content was obtained. “The content will stay online indefinitely. We will not and cannot be influenced.”
According to F, “at this moment, there is no way to search the website,” but said they may release another version that will be easier to use. “ We wanted to keep it as accurate to the original.”
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