Politics

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Newspapers Gone Wild! Decency Standards Take a Hit at Major Papers

March 20, 2008 12:38 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Photo galleries of a drunken Ashley Alexandra Dupre exposing herself, possibly when she was only 17, appear on the Web sites of at least three respected U.S. newspapers.

30-Second Summary

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The Orlando Sentinel, Long Island Newsday and the Los Angeles Times, all owned by the Tribune Co., carried racy photos and video of Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the prostitute linked to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, repeatedly exposing herself at a Girls Gone Wild party in 2003.

The photos and video were taken by an Orlando Sentinel photographer who attended the party in connection with a story about Girls Gone Wild.  They feature a scantily clad, clearly intoxicated Dupre repeatedly exposing herself, and have been censored slightly with a small piece of digital tape. The decision to include the salacious multimedia coverage in serious news newspapers represents a significant departure for the Tribune-owned publications. But the publications may have crossed a more serious boundary than that laid down by good taste.

Dupre’s lawyer said in a statement to Girls Gone Wild founder and CEO Joe Francis this week that Dupre “may have been 17” when the videos were shot in Miami, and not 18 as Francis claimed.  The lawyer asserts that Dupre was born on April 30, 1985, which would make her 17 at the time of the March 2003 party.

Francis was recently released from a Nevada prison after an 11-month sentence for tax evasion, and faced court charges last week related to filming underage girls in his videos.  Francis pleaded no contest to child abuse and prostitution charges, and was fined and released on time served.

In a statement, Francis claimed that it was lawful in Florida for a 17 year old to pose topless, and that no sexual activity took place.  This seems to contradict a statement he made earlier, when he believed that Dupre was 18 at the time of the party.

Will there be a backlash against major newspapers that publish such images of possibly underage girls?  Surely, the public has an interest in learning about a woman whose involvement with the Governor of New York caused him to lose his political career.  But what is the legitimate news value in photos of a young prostitute exposing herself at a party  5 years ago ?

For those not in the know, Girls Gone Wild produces pornographic videos by visiting areas where young people are known to party and persuading girls to undress for the camera in public. According to reporter Ariel Levy, writing for Slate, Francis’ employees have no problem finding willing participants, despite allegations of abuse.

Headline Links: Dupre’s ‘wild’ past a prominent news story

Related Links: Dupre stands to make millions

Background Links: Ashley Youmans and Spitzer’s resignation

Opinion & Analysis: Girls Gone Wild and Americans love a scandal

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