In newsrooms across Canada, editors have spirited discussions daily about what should go in their newspapers, with the final decision always coming down to one critical question: “How do we get more babes in bikinis on the front page?”
At least, it sure seems that way. A heat wave hits, and there’s a photo of a lithe beach-goer, her assets spilling out of a skimpy suit, to illustrate that yep, somebody’s temperature is sure rising. A cold snap? Why, a perfect opportunity for a pix of a scantily-clad lady defying the chill by marching outside in her undies. And if it’s just a regular day on the weather front, well, we can always use a crotch shot of a young figure skater.
That’s the image that graced newsstands this week, as The Globe and Mail (which bills itself as ‘Canada’s national newspaper,’ and by “Canada” it means “Ontario”) splashed a huge photo of 17-year-old skater Kaetlyn Osmond on its cover, her leg cocked high enough to make a pole dancer envious, and her, uh, area Down There … well, it’s Right Here.
The journalistic justification? Osmond is representing Canada at the world figure skating championships, in London, Ontario. Fair enough. This was also her début in the competition. Again, a good story. And she finished eighth. Okay, sounds … wait a sec. Eighth? And that merits the front page? Where’s the photo of the winners — in the classified section?
Now, it’s easy to take shots at journalistic judgements. Reporters and photographers do it themselves, all the time, when they disagree with how their work is displayed. So why shouldn’t readers, listeners and viewers?
Even Sylvia Stead, the Grope and Flail’s public editor (that’s the person who tries to explain to readers what the hell other editors were thinking), disagrees with the choice to use that picture, tweeting that it was “not acceptable in my view.” Interestingly, Osmond herself weighed in on the issue shortly thereafter, tweeting: “I really liked that picture.” (A quick note: if you’re not sure what all this “tweeting” business is about, you are either a luddite or out of touch. Either way, you have a future in newspapers as an editor. Those folks used to toil thanklessly in anonymity but now, thanks to the Internet, they also toil in obscurity. And irrelevance.)
When you see the photo you may see what many of us do: a striking visual that demonstrates Osmond could always join the Rockettes or teach yoga if this figure skating thing doesn’t work out.
It isn’t overtly sexual. It doesn’t demean her. It simply captures a moment in her sport. Pretty harmless, actually. And, importantly, Osmond likes it – hardly the response you’d expect from a young lady who felt she’d been exploited.
Now, put her in a bikini and have her strike that pose on a hot day for the front page, and we’ve got an entirely different story…
Above: A cropped portion of the front page of The Globe and Mail from Monday, March 18, 2013.
Image credit: The Globe And Mail/Newseum