Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hey! That's My Ass!

TUFTS UNIVERSITY near Boston has an annual tradition called the Naked Quad Run. At the end of the semester just before finals, hundreds of naked students do laps around campus, usually on freezing cold nights.

It's become such a large and popular event that the local media now cover it.

The Somerville Journal, in an ambitious act of multimedia convergence, attached video of the event to their online story. And that ruffled some feathers.

First, should the newspaper have run the video? Is it newsworthy? Isn't it pseudo-pornography?

Second, don't the people running naked have the right not to have their bare asses shown to the entire world? Have their rights been violated? They didn't consent to having their bums broadcast, did they? Or is this just good community journalism?

Third, are we violating their rights even further by running the photo above and linking to the streaking video?

Finally, can you publish the word "ass" without penalty?

28 comments:

MSell said...

Wow- this is crazy. I would be incredibly embarrassed if there was a picture of my nakedness all over the media, but you know what the embarrassment could have been avoided if they didnt take part in this event. I mean everyone who agreed to do this knew what they were getting themselves into- they are Tuft University students I'm sure they have the smarts to think of such a thing although.....once the pictures and videos are out there is no stopping the circulation of them, so by them being posted on the blog website it is by no means violating their rights further- their rights were violated from the start. I don't agree with their actions nor do I want to see pictures of naked butts running wild. Let's just hope Temple students don't follow this example...

Lee said...

These students knew there was a possiblity of their bare asses ending up on t.v. therefore I don't feel there rights were violated. I woulnd't consider the story front page news but it was pretty funny. It shouldn't be taking away time from more important issues but its worthy of 15 seconds on the news.

Ariela Rose said...

This is a pretty funny story and I agree the student who participate in the naked run know that they are participating into a giant naked even that is bound to attract some media attention. The Somerville Journal is simply doing their job and covering an event (however unconventional the even may be). I think the coverage of the naked run anywhere is not violating and should be treated just like any other news story, clothed or not.

Ashlee Kane said...

Violating their privacy? lol...theyre running laps naked in public, they violated their privacy themselves. Also, theyre running laps for a puropse in my opinion so the media coverage should be kind of flattering in a way.

megan silk said...

I've heard of this before. The movie "American Pie: The Naked Mile" was based on a similar event that occurs at the University of Michigan. I think in today's society anything can be considered newsworthy. If you're willing to participate in an event like this, you also have to be willing to face the consequences of it. And if these people are willing to bare their asses to all of campus, I don't think they would object to making the news.

Lucy said...

I'm not saying I agree with the coverage of the event or the video broadcasting of bare asses, but these kids shouldn't be surprised about it. Nowadays anything you do can end up all over the media and no one is going to feel bad about making money over your embarrassment. It sucks, but if you don't want your naked body all over the media, keep your clothes on.

Kevin Cook said...

This story is definitely something different and funny, but I don't think its newsworthy. A video? I mean, come on. I think finals week, the studying, the stress, the partying is a more viable story than some college kids running around naked before finals.

It's definitely not pseuedo-pornography at all. Because someone is nude doesn't make them a porn star does it? The act is what defines something as porngraphy or not.

If people are stupid enough to run around naked in bunches in a annual (or twice annual if its both semesters) then they should kind of be expected for someone to videotape it/take pictures. It's something very unusual.

Maggie said...

I definitely would not want to have my naked self broadcast all over the media. I think that for the video they should have had to have permission from all of the people in it to show it. Like they do if they shoot commercials on the street [like in the TRUTH. ad's when some of the faces are blurred.] But I think that people running around naked are kind of asking to get themselves noticed. It is something that the community would want to know about, so by participating in the run, i think that you should expect some kind of media coverage.

Christina Bridgwater said...

I wouldn't want to be shown naked in the media, but aparently the students at Tufts niversity do. You can't expect to run naked around campus and not attract some attention. It's definitely newsworthy because people want to know what really happens on certain college campuses. Their rights defcinitely were not violated. As for the word "ass" I think it should be freely published. It's just a word. We see much worse these days.

Geo said...

Actually, Tufts University is a private college. That means that the media are technically supposed to get permission to be on the campus.

Does that change anything?

- George (the teacher who hopes he doesn't get fired for putting bare-assed college students online)

Kurt said...

George,

I wish I still had access to my Westlaw account to find that law.
Can you find some law/statute to back up your statement?

Jeff Frandsen said...

I don't think it's that big of a deal to display this kind of material. Due to the mass amount of media that we engulf on a day by day basis, we are desensitized to this kind of stuff. Sex, nudity, etc. is nothing we aren't witnessing on television everyday. So yes, it can be newsworthy because it's humorous. Additionally, I do not see anything negative about the display of the "asses." However, I can see previous generations viewing it as disrespectful. But new times bring about new ways, and if people need to make money, the new times win. If that makes sense.

ali stalfa said...

The students at TUFTS knew that they would end up on the news. If any of them are not comfortable with that, then they should of thought twice about talking there clothes off are running naked laps.

Kurt said...

Ok, I did a bit of research on Tufts' policies regarding the media, and about media law in general.

First of all, the First Amendment rights to free press would apply here. I see nothing about this story that would endanger someone's well-being or violate some judicial decree (two of a few restrictions on free press).

Second, the Wicked Local article quotes the director of PR, Kim Thurler. If she really had an issue with the story, why would she agree to being quoted in the first place?

Third, the Tufts policies states that all press inquiries be handled by an associate director or a director of Communications and/or Public Relations. If Ms. Thurler was directly quoted, I think that permission was received.

In summary, the University shouldn't have any points of contention with this story.

Geo said...

Won't somebody please think about the children!

I don't actually have children myself but I'm sure there are parents out there who are freaking out that their kids are picking up the newspaper and seeing bare asses. Jese, and then those little perverts go online and find the video? What would your parents say?

- George (the teacher who tries to see it from every angle)

Brett Strycharz said...

Ha, leave it to the good ol' liberal media in Beantown to ruffle a few feathers over a pretty pedestrian event.

We live in an era where the media (and society in general) "murders to dissect." That is to say, anything unconventional that might be able to drum up some sort of protest or discussion is bludgeoned to death and force fed down everyone's throat.

It seems that no students were severely punished (as much to my knowledge, I mean, they keep doing this yearly, if someone was thrown in jail it might deter the crowd, right?)and the media and law enforcement took the event for what it is: students that stayed within the confines of their campus and caused no harm or overt disruption to the public.

Is this event really newsworthy? No. But so long as we watch the same nearly naked chunky, bearded, middle aged men jump into a frozen lake in upstate New York and Michigan every News Years Day, soft news like this will be accounted for.

These kids know what they are getting themselves into and the media and law enforcement do not put extraneous meaning into this truly harmless act, so why should we?

ciara said...

its catches your attention,enough said. its not front page news but its 'news worthy' - its a break from the seriousness of death and murder that is normally lining the newspapers. The naked runners knew what they were getting themselves into which means their rights were in no way broken. But is it pseudo-pornography? not at all, there is a lot worst on evening t.v. then some dumb people running around without their clothes on.

Colleen Therese said...

Naked people sell. I'm not surprised that this was covered. While it may not be "news worthy" I'm sure it cause a lot of people to take a second look and start their morning amused at the very least (or otherwise appalled). The participants understood the concept of running naked, so they cannot exactly complain. Anyone on campus could have filmed the same thing and put it on youtube. Fortunately ,you only have to look at the backs of people. No film footage of the front, we can be thankful for that. I hardly would consider it in the realm of pornography.

Plus, I don't think any rights were violated because lots of people running were wearing all manner of hats and headgear to conceal who they were. They were prepared and wanted to conceal their identity.

I'd say most likely the people bothering to watch this video are the people who were actual in it; they're all watching to see if they can recognize their own ass.

Colleen Therese said...

About the parents who don't want their kids watching... I really do not see the big deal. I mean, it's someone's butt. So what?? The most they should be concerned about is if their child is still young enough to think, 'oh, it's okay to run around outside naked at night.'

I've always been amused by the fact that people freak out so much over nudity and the like. I mean it's okay for the kid to pick up the paper and see horrifying headlines about murder and rape and war, but a few naked bottoms is something your kid cannot see? I don't get it.

Shawn Needham said...

Wow... I just had a vision of a bunch of naked Temple Students running down Broad Street... But really, it's no wonder the media are covering it, the same way the media always cover the Running of the Bulls every year, it intrigues people. Also, the people have to know that there might be documentation of this, the media are EVERYWHERE! However, I don't think the video should have been run, that's pushing it. Finally, the word ass - it depends where you use it and how conservative the paper is. People get really funny about little things like that.

Melissa Randall said...

I'm prettyyyy sure the people who chose to partake in this event didn't mind other people seeing them in this fashion....or lack there of, or else they wouldn't be running around in their b-suits anyway. Not that I think this footage will open a huge door for some sort of 'Free the Nudists' revolution or anything, but I personally think an event such as this different. There's a difference between what is basically streaking, at night, and being completely naked in broad daylight in public. Newsworthy? What is newsworthy exactly...I recall (unfortunately) all of the footage of Paris Hilton getting out of jail....that wasn't what I would call newsworthy and yet, it was broadcast for days. This probably ranks up higher than that when it comes to human interest.

Geo said...

Read the comments at the bottom of the Somerville Journal story. A lot of students complained saying that they did not consent to having their bums shown to the world.

You think they are off base?

- George (the teacher who does not recommend a Naked Run down Broad Street)

Shauna said...

I read some of the comments on the Somerville Journal story and it seems like more than not, participants were unhappy with the coverage, especially the videos/pictures. I think that if you are going to run around completely naked for your entire campus to see, there is no harm in putting up a video where you can see no faces and cannot readily identify any of the people who participated. They should have thought about what they were getting into when they got wasted, stripped, and ran around their campus for a half hour. I do not see a problem with the media coverage of it, especially since the only thing you can really see are people's rear ends.

tiffany said...

Regardless of any questions or concerns people have about these students, they carry on tradition. Tradition being that they have been doing this for a long time. They know what they're doing and frankly, they do not care. It was a given that they would eventually grab someone's attention! (or a whole newspaper)!!!

Joshua Middleton said...

I think it's news-worthy and I think it is fine that the video is shown. There's nothing wrong with a little bare ass on the news every once in the while to inspire a chuckle - it's better than inspiring fear! We, as a nation need to stop being so afraid of human nudity. It's natural! Forget a person's rights to be shown naked on television news - they gave up those rights when they decided to strip down to their nothings and run across campus!

melissa said...

I think that when people go out in public whether they are wearing clothes or not they are taking the "risk" that someone is going to see them. The students wouldn't be mad if they were caught in the paper wearing their school's sweatshirt would they? Also, if the race is gaining popularity the thought must have crossed their minds that the media may want to cover it.

I don't have kids so I don't know what it would be like to see my child in nothing but what God gave them in the press, but I think they should take what happened with a grain of salt. There are worse things their children could be doing.

Terrez said...

I dont feel like their privacy was violated because when u do something such as run naked around campus, it is a matter of time before it hits YouTube. Do I think its news-worthy? No. The news has important issues to cover such as crime and politics. I think this video was perfect for YouTube. Funny and unnesessary.

sandra said...

i do think that this is newsworthy but of course, not a cover story...this appeals to a younger audience of course...and it belongs in the pop culture part of a newspaper....obviously when a person glances at the naked people..their first intention is to automatically see what the story is about...the story is there to inform you whether it has little importance to you or not...the people who are doin these naked acts should know that in the youTube world that we live in, its only a matter of seconds till they see themselves on tv DUH!...WHAT IS'NT ONLINE THESE DAYS?