Questionable Content

As a Web editor or Web producer, you will be making some tough decisions on story and photo play and Web-linking policies.

See if you can find at least one example on a news site of questionable links, photos or stories, due to violent content (in coverage of murders, fires, crashes or war), sexual references or hate-based material. Please give the URL for the questionable page(s), and explain diplomatically why you have concerns. Tell me how you would have handled the content differently.


Mike O'Brien said...

Here's a link to Examiner.com's news video site:


It's a pretty good site, but when you've finished watching one video, it automatically jumps to the next video on its list, so the viewer loses some discretion with what they see.

akasper said...

This is a news story about a very young girl in a sex tape with an older man. Something about the picture rubs me wrong. It is clearly from the tape and the little girl is wearing a dress that to me is too provocative. I believe that FOX News should have cropped the picture so that just her face was visible. What she is wearing is not important and it is kind of disturbing. I would have cropped the picture and enlarged it so that you could just see her upper body, so people can identify her. There are no other identifying features about her body that need to be seen.

Amanda said...

This page links to a story about a crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where three men were killed.

Although this site now includes links to video and photos of the crash (with a warning about graphic material), they were both featured on WBAL’s home page in the days following the accident.

Having known two of the men who were killed, seeing these photos and the videos -- without wanting to -- on the main page was quite emotional. In fact, the wife and mother of the two men killed saw the video footage on the news and recognized her husband’s truck before calling the fire station where her husband and son work and demanding that they find out what happened. That is no way to discover that your husband and son have just been killed.

With any death, police and reporters have to confirm with the family before naming the victims. They should have used that same tact in this case; that is, contacting the family before airing live footage of the accident.

Sam Lee said...

I also found a story on the missing girl in the sex tape, but I found it on CNN.com as a video (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/09/25/vaifanua.girl.in.video.ktnv).

The photo is disturbing mainly because of the context. Not only is the story about a young girl in a sex tape, but the photo, itself, is from the tape.

However, the video, in my opinion, is even more disturbing than the story with the photo because the video also shows a screencap of the man in the video immediately after. Only the man's face (and not body) is shown, and the same treatment should have been given to the girl's photo. If the dress is an important element to identifying the girl, then another frame in the video could have shown the dress.

lindsey said...

On examiner.com, I found a story entitled, ‘Violent Crackdown Launched in Myanmar.’ This is a story about Burmese monks protesting dissatisfaction with the military rule in that region and the police brutality against them. The story is listed on the homepage under the ‘nation and more world news’ section.
I think that it was a wise choice to have a link attached to the story rather than run the story directly on the homepage because of the sensitivity of the issue. Young children might venture to this sight and read about the violence ensuing in the area or people might be offended by the brutality against these people. If a person chooses to read the story, then they can click on it and read it. If not, they don’t have to.
Next to the actual story was a photo of a motorcyle on fire, smoke everywhere and buddhist monks running in every direction. I think that this was an appropriate choice of photograph, because it does not offend or harm anyone, yet gives the reader of sense of the violence. If I was an editor and had to choose between displaying this photograph or one of a monk burning or being beaten to death, I probably would have stuck with the less offensive one, which would still provide you with sufficient understanding of the chaos in that region.
There also was an AP video link above the byline. The video was short, yet provided the reader with a better understanding of the demonstrations and violence through visuals. It did not display any graphic beatings, yet says that people have been killed. It provides the reader with a sufficient grasp on what is happening in Myanmar, without being offensive or hurtful.
Overall, examiner.com did a good job on this story.

AJ said...

Today I read an article on CBSnews.com called "Anorexia Stripped Bare."


The article was accompanied by a photo of an emaciated woman and professed anorexic. The photo first emerged on billboards in Italy, and as disturbing as the picture is, the photographer had an understandable reason to broadcast it: to show anorexia for what it is and shine light on the fashion industry's obsession with extreme thinness. The billboard is part of a campaign against anorexic models and supports London, Milan and Madrid's ban on too thin models. The photo is controversial not only because of the issue at hand but because the woman is nude, and the extent of her anorexia- which she's dealt with for 14 years- is very apparent. Her bones are poking from her body, and she looks much older than her 27 years. I was not offended by this article or photo at all because the billboard is meant to be a deterrant against anorexia and employing anorexic models. There is a video link to CBS News' The Early Show, where this topic was also reported, and in the course of the video, the anorexia billboard is shown more clearly. There's nothing about this page that I would have handled differently. The photo is informative and newsworthy because this is a topic that continues to pop up in the media and remains relevant.

Becky said...


The CBSNews story about the 4-5 year-old girl on the sex tape contains a picture at the top of the story showing the girl. At first I thought it was strange to clearly show this victim while discussing that she has suffered rape and worse, considering most news organizations refuse to give even the names of victims of sexual-related crimes, and certainly a photo is more personal. However, I think the photo is necessary because the little girl is still missing. The caption underneath the photo reads: "Do you know who the girl in the videotape is? If so, please contact the Nye County Sheriff's Department." It is clear that the purpose of the photo is to possibly trigger recognition in a reader that would lead to the safe return of the girl. I would have handled the content in the same way as the CBSNews editor. The photo, under the circumstances, is very appropriate. Yes, it shows part of her dress, but not inappropriately (the photo is a different shot than that of Fox News, although I don't believe the Fox shot is inappropriate either). Regular news site viewers are mature enough to handle photos of this nature.

Joe Rogers said...


This FOXNews story about the disapearance of missing mother Paige Birgfeld features a large photo of both her and the suspect in the disapearance. Since Ms. Birgfeld is a victim in the case, I think it would be more effective to have the picture of the suspect, Lester Ralph Jones, be the more prominent picture on the page. Also, although Ms. Birgfeld allegedly worked for an escort service, I feel it is unecessary to include that in the headline of the article. It brings a very negative connotation in an instance where it is not needed. She is simply a victim in this case and does not deserve to be labeled by her profession. I think the article itself was well-written, but I think the headline was inappropriate and that the main picture should have been of the suspect of whom authorities are looking for.