Monday, January 22, 2007

Houston Chronicle Purveyor of Pornography

The Houston Chronicle is the only major paper in the Houston metropolitan area. This is unfortunate since this paper leans hard to the left and is full of errors both grammatically and morally. Last weekend in the STAR section of this 'family newspaper' had a story devoted to 50 year old porn stars and the rise of senior pornography. The reader representative James Campbell for the Houston Chronicle wasn't to accommodating to the left-leaning Chron.
OK, I'm hardly prudish, but seeing the story, along with a photo of the 50-year-old wannabe porn actress prompted me to question our rationale and judgment for publishing the story. Why? I'm mindful of readers who constantly remind me that the Chronicle is distributed at area schools, including elementary schools. As a parent, I diligently monitor and censor what my 8-year-old son reads, views or listens to. So I empathize with readers who expressed consternation at our publishing a story they deemed inappropriate for a "family newspaper." Some readers saw it as graphic beyond the boundary of good taste to read lines like"within a few unscripted minutes they're mostly unclothed, panting and moaning for the camera, engaged in sexual contortions and obviously unbothered by visiting onlookers" doing "a gonzo shoot — meaning it is more or less plot-free sex for 40 minutes or so." They asked: Where were the editors? "I was dismayed to see the positive portrayal of pornography in the Star section of [Sunday's] paper ('Fifty, nifty and launching a career as a porn star')," a reader wrote. "The graphic nature of the article was bad enough, but I was especially offended that it was accompanied by a provocative photo of a woman in a see-through negligee and g-string. You could have devoted those column inches to any number of important woman-centered or news items ... rather than an article portraying pornography in a positive light." Another reader wrote that story about "the biggest trend in adult videos is older women ... was very distasteful. I am sure kids and teens read this paper (the next page shows Houston's future debutantes). ... How inappropriate to use an article on letting people know that 40- and 50 year-old women ... are getting into the porn industry ... I enjoy reading the Sunday paper but not seeing the paper advertise, through an article, that porn is all right ... And more: "I am disappointed in the Sunday Chronicle Lifestyle section. In my opinion, this is not appropriate material for a family newspaper, but may be appropriate for Playboy Magazine, or some porn magazine. As my Readers' Representative, please let it be known that we do not appreciate this type of article in our newspaper."
The Houston Chronicle's features editor rebuffed Mr. Campbell and his readers by stating:
Kyrie O'Connor, deputy managing editor/features, responded: "We didn't choose the 50-plus porn star story deliberately to annoy people. We chose it because it was one of the most interesting stories we'd seen in a long time, well-written, lively, unusual. It's true that it may not be the first story you would want your 8-year-old to read that day, but while we need to be respectful of our readers, we don't need to plan the newspaper for 8-year-olds. Any child who could read that story should have his or her questions answered about it by a thoughtful adult. Our desire was not to endorse the over-50 porn star lifestyle or advocate for it — that's not what we do — but to give people something to read and think about, to be amused or mildly provoked, as they choose. The picture was not risqué."
I agree with Mr. Campbell, though the story is 'interesting' it has no place in a newspaper such as the Houston Chronicle that is the only paper in town. What are they trying to cater to? The six readers (including Kyrie O'Connor apparently) who may feel disenfranchised if someone isn't writing a story about their fallen behavior? To read James Campbell excellent posting click here. To read blogHOUSTON's posting on this click here.


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