Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Look how shocking this is! No, REALLY look!

The tabloids - especially the Mail - do have a habit of writing a story which says 'isn't this shocking?' and then provides copious amounts of pictures to prove just how shocking it is.

For example, many years ago, the Mail ran several pages of comment and screenshots revealing how shocked it told us we must be about Channel Five's infamous gameshow Naked Jungle.

But this seems rather more serious. The article Teen beauty contest that lists vital statistics branded 'a shop window for sex offenders' gives details of a competition called Miss Teen Queen UK, an online beauty pageant for 13-19 year old girls. The 'quote' in the headline is adapted from comments made by the Director of Kidscape.

The problem is in the first paragraph, which reads: 'A beauty pageant has been labelled a 'shop window for sex offenders' by a leading children's charity after it published the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13.'

And how does the Mail choose to illustrate this story? With a screenshot of one contestant's profile - and it's readable. So although her face is pixelated, her 32B chest measurement isn't. If the Mail finds it so repulsive for the organisers to publish 'the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13' why publish the breast size of this 15 year old on its website? (Also seen are her waist and hip measurements, and her dress size.)

The Mail uses two other pictures from the site - one a young girl with face pixelated (although easily identifiable, if you wish to find her) and a screenshot of the website homepage, where one of the models has her top unbuttoned quite low.

What the Mail wants to do is not only be appalled, but also 'prove' how evil the internet is (again). At least it's not Facebook this time. But the use of these particular images seems gratuitous and rather creepy - if the Mail really finds this so awful, why use screenshots revealing what it is most complaining about?

It's likely the Teen Queen site has had more hits today as a result of the Mail story than at any time previously. It is, at time of writing, the eighth most read story on their site. So are they really concerned that this website is a 'shop window for sex offenders'? Because they appear to be doing all they can to point people to that window for a look.

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