Blogs > City Editor's Blog

By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The bare facts

The editor who was designing the front page of the Freeman's Nov. 15 Life section approached me in the newsroom the other night and asked if I would have a problem with him publishing a photo, to accompany a story about breast cancer, of a topless woman giving herself a breast examination.

The photo, which I told him didn't offend me in the least, is a profile taken from the woman's left side. Her left arm is raised, partly obscuring her face, and the fingers on her right hand are pressed against her bare left breast. It's a fairly standard self-exam pose that most of us have seen depicted in photos and drawings.

Concerned, before hearing my reply, that I might be bothered by the picture, the editor pressed his case for using it by noting the nipple on the breast was not visible — as if that should be the dividing line between acceptable and obscene. I had to laugh, because those (including myself) who maintain an image of a bare breast is not obscene often note the breast's primary purpose is to provide nourishment for offspring — a process that requires the nipple. How, then, could showing the nipple make such a photo more objectionable than if the nipple were obscured?

But the editor probably was right. If we had published a photo of a completely bare female breast, nipple and all, the newsroom almost certainly would have been deluged with phone calls, letters and e-mails from people accusing us of peddling pornography and corrupting the minds of young readers.

Funny, though: We haven't received a single objection to the ads we've been running for the new movie '2012,' which depicts the annihilation of the Earth, or the film 'This Is It,' which portrays presumed child molester Michael Jackson as a person worthy of admiration.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home