The Daily Telegraph in Australia has reached what is possibly a new low in its media ethics. Embedded within a report about a sordid neighborhood sex club, The Telegraph asked citizens to send in their “news” photographs. They placed what amounted to an advertisement for submissions of porn images into the body of their report: (emphasis original):
“Have you been to these parties or do you know someone who has? Are you a neighbor and what do you think of Club Hardcore Haven? Contact us in confidence on 02 9288 3413 or via the feedback form below. Send news pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org or via SMS to 0432 752 459.
The Telegraph photo was rather dull so they were looking for something that sizzled from inside the den. An innocent looking suburban house nestled in trees will not generate web traffic. The caption said, “SYDNEY’S North Shore lives by the idea that What happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors – but we can reveal where its underworld comes out to play.” Note the words: “they can.” They can, of course, if neighbors would roll up their sleeves (pull out some cameras) and pitch in.
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With the budget crisis in newsrooms everywhere, media outlets are continually looking for new avenues for content with no overhead attached. Since employing staff photojournalists costs money, “citizen journalists” providing free or low cost images is a happy alternative that reduces costs. In other words, citizen journalists now have an opportunity to help by feeding both breaking news and sensationalism to the mainstream media. Mom should be so proud.
Hat tip to blogger, Scattered Pieces, for pointing out this story. He said, “Last week I found an article that is only fit for the category of sensationalism because it certainly isn’t news. It is, however, sales based, because after all sex sells.”