from the an-hero dept
According to a recently-filed lawsuit, the media is apparently every bit as "helpful" as law enforcement when it comes to the responsible, logical handling of teens and sexting. Confusing "hurting" with "helping," Colorado's KOAA allegedly exposed not only the name of a teen involved in a sexting incident, but also the part that puts the "sex" in "sexting."
The station, KOAA TV, aired footage of the boy’s erect penis during a news report that was put together after his father’s girlfriend approached producers about an alleged blackmail attempt, according to a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court.Since law enforcement largely seems to feel sexting = child porn, the station should have found itself under investigation for distributing child porn. Instead, the only negative result of its allegedly terrible editorial practices so far is Holden's lawsuit.
Producers were told on Feb. 24 by the woman that someone had tried to blackmail the teen, now 16, using sexually explicit material. That same day they arrived at the family house in Pueblo, Colorado to investigate the claims and interview the boy’s father, Elijah Holden. While on assignment, the suit alleges that the news team collected screenshots from the teen’s Facebook page, as well as images from the YouTube page where the blackmail video had been uploaded, to be used in their coverage.
The plaintiff and his father both asked that the name “be kept confidential through any report presented by Defendant KOAA,” attorney Matthew Schneider said in the filing.
Holden is seeking damages related to the outing of his name and sexual organs, with damages sought clearing the $1 million mark. In its defense, the station had this to say:
“Through a series of stories during the last several years, KOAA has informed its viewers about the dangers of sexting and cell phone security,” KOAA president and general manager Evan Pappas said in a statement to Courthouse News, where the suit was first reported on Tuesday this week. “At the specific request of the victim’s father, we ran a story two years ago about his son being blackmailed over a cellphone video.”Well, I guess nothing better illustrates the dangers of sexting more than irresponsibly splashing a minor's name and penis all over the TV screen. Of course, considering these were tied to blackmail allegations by an adult, it would seem more -- much more -- discretion would have been in order. Instead, the TV station went the other way, displaying the name of the minor involved over a screen cap of his penis and topped it off by dragging his social circle into the mess.
The station claims the allegations are unsubstantiated, but there's really no excuse for using a minor's name -- even if the guardian gave permission to the news outlet to do so. But going past that, how does the station hope to explain its use of an explicit photo of a minor in a publicly-broadcast news report? According to the lawsuit, something that could be considered child pornography somehow made its way past internal censors and ended up on the evening news.
Defendant KOAA aired the thumbnail image of the YouTube video depicting Plaintiff's erect penis and his name as a part of the story shown on February 24th 2014.While journalists have played an important part in exposing ridiculous prosecutions of sexting teens, there's no denying the lurid nature of the subject matter is also beneficial to the entities covering the stories. The implicit suggestion that YOUNG NAKED TEENS lie just beyond the next commercial break attracts additional viewers. This additional motivator might explain the apparent lack of discretion on the part of KOAA.
As of now, what we have is a news agency that claims it broadcasts these stories to educate the public on the dangers of sexting while apparently feeling compelled to drive that point home through its own actions.