By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Howard Owens on community nudity

Howard Owens, GateHouse Media’s chief online guy, has weighed in on the Somerville Journal’s video/photo coverage of the Naked Quad Run at Tufts. An excerpt:

This is no time for community journalism to be squeamish — and keep in mind, we’re talking about a video that shows, essentially, nothing. What it does capture is the spirit of the moment. What it does record for posterity is a real event, in a real community, that is seemingly important to a lot of people in that community.

Isn’t that an essential part of journalism’s role, even if offends some people’s sensibilities, even some of the participants (read the comments on the story)?

Should journalists really be in the role of hiding the truth of what really goes on in a community? I feel like that is what Dan Kennedy is suggesting.

You should read the whole thing. Increasingly, local newspaper editors are going to be dealing with issues like this. And I’m certainly not in favor of “hiding the truth of what really goes on in a community.” Text-only coverage wouldn’t have been as entertaining, but it would have gotten the essential truth out.

By the way, Owens goes slightly astray in referring to the Boston Herald’s Jay Fitzgerald as a blogger, and then criticizing him for not linking to the Journal’s coverage. Fitzgerald wrote his story for the print edition and would have had nothing to do with whether any links were added for the Web.

Owens also slams a Facebook group formed to protest the Journal’s actions, writing, “Think about it — [a] group of students throw privacy concerns to the wind by running around naked in public (even posting pictures to Flickr), and then get upset when that event is covered by a media outlet. How ironic.”

In fact, the Facebook group he links to appears to be a parody. Check out the video.

Friday morning update: Jay responds to Howard: “I didn’t mind the Journal’s coverage. I also like what WickedLocal is doing on the web in general, though I could do without the hair-trigger self-righteousness at the slightest whiff of controversy.”

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  1. Howard Owens

    Thanks for the link, Dan.Jay’s byline box refers to “recent blog posts,” so I took this as a blog entry and am not sure yet that I am wrong.Also, while comments on the FB group are sardonic, I’m not sure that’s the initial thrust of the group.And for the record, I’m not the chief online guy. At best, I’m tied for #2.

  2. Howard Owens

    I should say #2 at a three-way tie.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Jay is a business reporter for the Herald. He also used to write a blog for, but that seems to have gone by the wayside – it’s not listed here. Finally, he writes a very fine personal blog, Hub Blog, as well.

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