July 15, 2008

Newsweek Asks the Big Questions

Posted in In the news, Media tagged , at 9:28 am by R

A few weeks back I wrote a post about a Time article that addressed the story of a bunch of teenage girls from Gloucester, Mass. getting pregnant.

In that post, I asserted that while the media might not be responsible for this situation, they do have a certain responsibility to portray teen pregnancy in an honest and complete way. I used Jamie Lynn Spears as an example of how teen pregnancy can be glamorized, what with her exclusive story with OK! Magazine and million dollar deal for the first baby photos (ON STANDS NOW! — please read some sarcasm into that line.)

In a Web exclusive, Sarah Kliff of Newsweek Magazine interviews OK! Editor Rob Shuter. She asks him poignant questions about reporting responsibly about teen pregnancy, about celebrity pregnancies and the weight of some of these editorial decisions. Read it.

Here’s one of my favorites…

What message do you think it sends to your teenager readers?
I think it’s a very sensitive subject. I can totally understand why people have concerns about it. I can tell you too it’s nothing Jamie Lynn hasn’t had to deal with herself on a daily basis. This young girl has made some very hard choices … She can only talk about her own circumstances but she certainly is not a spokesperson for teen pregnancy. I think what we try to do in this story really carefully is say that this is Jamie Lynn’s story. This is not a girl at a high school story. This is a story about Jamie Lynn and her exceptional story in really, really unique circumstances and how she’s making decisions. That’s what this is about. We don’t set out to be the moral authority. We try to present the facts and let our readers decide.

Two important things here:

  1. Ok! Doesn’t assert that it’s a “moral authority.”
  2. Nor does it take responsibility for the impressions it may leave on readers.

These are the facts, and I’ll let my readers decide…



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