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December 30, 2003

Adventures in Journalism: Nekkid Edition

From The Seattle Post Intelligencer: Neb. woman ticketed for being nude on Net

It may be legal to appear naked in cyberspace, but police ticketed a Lincoln woman for posting nude pictures of herself on the Web that were taken in a downtown bar.

Melissa J. Harrington, 21, was ticketed Monday for violating Lincoln's public nudity ordinance by posting pictures on her Web site "showing her naked at one of our downtown bars and in several other locations around the city," Police Chief Tom Casady said.

"It's unlawful to be naked in public in Lincoln," he said.

Harrington, who works as a Web designer at a local Bank, says on her Web site that she likes "being naked in public ... even more when there's a lot of people there to watch."

Now, be honest. Did you, once you got the gist of what the story was about, immediately scan the rest of the page in a vain search for Melissa's url?

Well, I did. But it was done in the service of journalism, not at the behest of the baser instincts. I keep my baser instincts firmly in hand.

Zod: Heh

In point of fact, The Seattle Post Intelligencer is in the minority when it comes to the ethical question of whether one publicizes Melissa's site. Out of the 54 news sites currently hosting the breaking Nebraska naked news, only 21 do not provide a helpful url for those wishing to judge the merits of the case for themselves, whereas 33 others do.

Or so it would seem. In fact, at the moment the number of sites censoring the url is growing, while the number of sites printing it is shrinking as the day goes by. Of the 33 news sites Google originally found the words "melissalincoln.com" on, at least two, the Wichita Eagle and Virginia's Hampton Roads Daily Press have updated the story and removed the url since Google last scanned them. Not that either mentions the fact that the story has been edited since it was first published. I've called both papers--so far neither of them has any explanation of the reasoning behind the change.

Not that removing a porn url from a news story is in any way objectionable. I've got kids--once they can read I think I'll prefer new stories that come sans porn links. What I object to is the fact that neither paper bothers to inform the reader that a change has been in the story since it was first published. This isn't a grammar change, or a spelling correction, it's the removal of a fact germane to the story.

Update: I've heard back from the Hampton Roads Daily Press. The story they posted is part of an AP feed--they basically have nothing to do with the content, they just wrap their site around it. So it would seem that the url removal is being done at the wire service level, at least in their case.

Which is worse, in a way. How many times a day does the AP change its stories without telling anyone?

Posted by Bigwig at December 30, 2003 03:53 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

I keep my baser instincts firmly in hand.

Zod: Heh

Um, oh, yeah, heh heh! Um, heh heh heh!

Posted by: Beavis at December 30, 2003 04:31 PM
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