The Flip Side Of Internet Fame Essay Contest

An autistic teen who won an essay contest has been denied his prize, apparently because of his autism.

Niko Boskovic of Portland, Oregon, won the North Portland's Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge contest with his essay on the history of the Ukraine, according to Oregon Live.

Niko, who lost his ability to speak and was diagnosed with autism at age three, was set to join 300 other winners for the annual United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth, which brings teens to historic areas of the US and Canada and teaches them about the United Nations.

Niko Boskovic of Portland, Oregon, won the North Portland's Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge contest with his essay on the history of the Ukraine

Niko lost his ability to speak at age three but he communicates with a letter board and is fully integrated into his public high school

But things took an unwelcome turn when Niko's mother, Loreta, emailed to tell Charles Cloud, the Odd Fellows jurisdictional chairman for Oregon, that she would be accompanying her son as he's autistic and nonverbal, and needs a letter board to communicate.

She thought she should go with him to support his ability to communicate effectively with the letter board.

By using the Rapid Prompting Method and a letter board, Niko learned to communicate. His teachers at his public school evaluated him as 'talented and gifted.' 

Loreta was shocked when she said she eventually got an email back pulling the offer of the UN trip for Niko.

The UN Pilgrimage for Youth's board said that chaperones weren't allowed on the tour and that the group was unprepared to take on the responsibility of caring for Niko during his trip, according to the outlet.

Niko is a tireless advocate of the disabled and goes to a public school

'We were told they don't have the staff and knowledge to be accountable for someone with a disability,' Cloud said he was told.

David Scheer, lodge secretary, said he fought for Niko to be included. And Loreta made it clear she would pay for her own part of the trip herself.

'All of us banded together to challenge the decision,' he told the outlet. 'We got nowhere. They refunded our money, and they've refused to talk with us.'

He said the decision was 'ridiculous' and that he's often taken kids with disabilities on field trips. 'They were never a problem,' he said. 

Niko is an advocate for those with disabilities and he received this letter from Obama in 2015

'He's fully integrated in [his] school,' his mother told the outlet. 'His freshman year, he focused almost exclusively on academics.'

Niko runs a website dedicated to promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities.

'Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say,' it says on his website.

Niko's parented contacted Gordon C. Magella, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon.

'I have never seen something so blatant with no explanation,' he said of the program board's decision not to include Niko. 'I have worked on some cases where there's a plausible excuse, or a practical reason. But not here.'

Niko and his supporters, which includes the lodge's local chapter, hope to get Niko into the contest again next year.

'Hopefully, we can get them straightened out next year. The reaction of the Oregon lodges has been in Niko's favor. Our lodge voted to not take part in this program again until they put in a guarantee that there won't be discrimination based on a disability,' said Scheer.

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In the context of present celebrity culture, an Internet celebrity, blogebrity,[1]cyberstar,[2]online celebrity[2] or Internet personality is someone who has become famous by means of the Internet - more specifically the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW allows people to reach a very large audience across the world and so become famous within one or more Internet communities.[3]

The Internet allows the masses to wrest control of fame from traditional media, creating micro-celebrities with the click of a mouse

— David Weinberger of the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society[4]


Millions of people write online journals or weblogs. In many cases these contributions do not make them notable on a large scale, or only for people with the same specialist interest. But if the author has or develops a distinctive personality, they may rise to fame derived from this as much as from the content of their blog.[2]

In some cases, people might rise to fame through a single event or video that goes viral. The Internet allows videos, news articles, and jokes to spread very quickly. Depending on the reach of the spread, the content may become considered an "Internet meme," and thus, any of the people associated may gain exposure for posting really intelligent content. For example, Zach Anner, an Austin, Texas-based comedian gained worldwide attention after submitting a video to Oprah Winfrey's "Search for the Next TV Star" competition. There is substantial searching online for people.[5]

Internet celebrities have also become a popular phenomenon in China (PRC) with the likes of Sister Furong (Fu Rong Jiejie), who received worldwide notoriety and fame for her unashamed efforts at self-promotion via Internet postings.[6]

The concept of web celebrity ties into Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame. A more recent adaptation of Warhol's quip, possibly prompted by the rise of online social networking, blogging, and similar online phenomena, is the claim that "In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people" or, in some renditions, "On the Web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people".[7] This quote, though attributed to David Weinberger, was said[7] to have originated with the Scottish artist Momus.[8]

Social media personalities often function as lifestyle gurus who present a particular lifestyle or attitude to their spectators. In this role they may be crucial influencers / multipliers for trends in the fashion industry, variously also becoming popular ("wikt:fashionista") as fashion bloggers or (unlearned) fashion designers.


Occasionally an Internet celebrity has naively invited fans to meet him/her at a certain place and time, without proper organization, attracting crowds of fans, causing disorderly and even unsafe situations. Alternatively it can be organized in a venue, with security personnel. Magcon is an example of even a group of internet celebrities meeting fans in the latter way.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of YouTube personalities.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  1. ^
    • Michelle Meyers (1 June 2005). "Do you have 'blogebrity' status?"CNET News.
    • Ron Rosenbaum (31 October 2005). "Frenzy of Judyism May Augur the Dawn Of New Neural Age". New York Observer
    • "E-Branding The Red Light District". WebNewsPro. 5 September 2006.
    • Kevin Smokler (1 October 2006). Citizen Media: The High School Years". Fast Company.
    • "Perez Hilton says he's an 'outsider'". USA Today. 6 November 2006:
    • Christopher Williams (15 March 2007). "Lego, Superman and the US Army". The Register.
    • Shivam Vij (5 May 2007). "Blog Baron of Agra". Tehelka.
    • Beth Merchant (1 June 2007). "CS3 Up Close". Studio Monthly.
    • Samantha Wender (11 September 2007). "The Brightest Stars in Cyberspace". ABC News.
    • Chris Hudson (2008). "Bad Girls Go Digital: National Selves, Cyber Selves, Super Selves". Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region (eds. Usha M. Rodrigues & Belinda Smaill), Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781847184603, page 137.
    • Jory Des Jardins; Jennifer L. Jacobson (2009). "Forward", 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business. Super Star Press , ISBN 9781607730149 page 1.
    • "Pleasing with persona". National Post. 8 March 2010.
    • Maggie Parke; Natalie Wilson (2011). "Fanpires: Utilizing Fan Culture in Event Film Adaptations", Theorizing Twilight: Critical Essays on What's at Stake in a Post-Vampire World. McFarland & Company Inc. , ISBN 9780786463503, page 36.
  2. ^ abcJason R. R. Rich (2009). "9. Become Famous as a Blogger". Blogging for Fame and Fortune. ISBN 978-1-59918-342-8. 
  3. ^Anne Hammock (May 1, 2008). "The new fame: Internet celebrity". CNN. 
  4. ^"The new fame: Internet celebrity" at CNN
  5. ^Spink, A., Jansen, B.J., and Pedersen, J. 2004. Searching for People on Web Search Engines. Journal of Documentation. 60(3), 266-278
  6. ^Celebrity in China. Hong Kong University Press. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  7. ^ abWeinberger, David (July 23, 2005). "Famous to fifteen people". Archived from the original on December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006. 
  8. ^Momus (1991). "POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! In the future everyone shall be famous for fifteen people..." Grimsby Fishmarket. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 

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