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Archive for June 9th, 2007

A stripper’s story — on the front page?

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Yesterday, one of my fellow reporters asked me if I saw Monday’s Columbus Dispatch. I don’t normally read the Dispatch, favoring the Beacon and the PD for my Ohio news.

She told me to check it out the story about a stripper. So, rather than walk all the way across the newsroom to find the paper, I just did a quick search. The first things I found were a couple letters to the editor condemning the paper. That got my curiousity.

So, when I found the story, I read it.

It took me to about the fifth paragraph to understand why the other reporter wanted me to see this story. Although she took it as offensive, I wouldn’t say it was offensive so much as uncalled for, seriously unnecessary. I mean, and I hate to say it because I do respect the Dispatch, but I don’t think this description has a place in any newspaper:

She twirls her fit, 22-year-old body around gold poles, her breasts enhanced and exposed, so that men will slide dollar bills into the thin, white thong stretched across her slender, tan hips.

There are other similar examples in the story where I cringed at the inclusion of details far from necessary to help me understand her plight.

But one thing I noticed, because I didn’t just read the lede and first few paragraphs like my co-worker, is as I told her, “At least there’s a news peg.” She hadn’t noticed. Probably because this “nut graph” is buried about eight or nine long paragraphs down:

Dunn and other strip-club dancers — often used to hiding what they do from people outside club doors — have made recent headlines for teaming to fight legislation they say would have put them out of jobs.

As originally proposed, the measure would have created a 6-foot “no-touch” bubble around dancers — effectively shutting down strip clubs, some maintained.

The legislation that eventually passed prevents dancers from touching patrons — or patrons from touching them — while the dancers are nude or seminude.

Even the watered-down version, expected to take effect by mid-August, still concerns club owners and dancers, who doubt its constitutionality.

Although they have many questions about the new restrictions, the most important one is this: Will they scare off patrons?

All right. I was at least relieved to see the news peg. But as I continued to read the story — all 1,600+ words of it — I found myself not just cringing at those borderline pornographic details and descriptions, but also at the girl herself. I know women who are strippers. Personally. They are fine mothers and friends. They do their job and it is what it is. So I’m not in anyway condoning the profession. It is a way to make a lot of money for those with the right personality and body type. And, like I said, it is what it is.

But this story, except for the paragraphs I pulled out above, is just the girl’s soap box about how hard her life is, how she’s working for a better life, how she paid for her sister’s braces and bought a house in the suburbs, how she reads inspirational books, how nobody thinks you can do anything if you’re a stripper and how there’s more to it than taking off your clothes. OK. I get it. I get it.

But what I don’t get is why this story ran on the front page of a major U.S. daily? I didn’t see the story in print, but apparently it was front and an entire inside page. Precious real estate.

Maybe I was just annoyed by this because I hold newspaper’s to a higher standard. All week, I’ve been subjected to the torture of seeing Paris Hilton be the top TV news story, and was relieved it wasn’t so in print. But ah las, is the hard knock life of a stripper worth so much space? Especially when the “news” angle is apparently only worth about four of those inches? I don’t know. Obviously, the Dispatch editors thought so.

I think there could have been and, if you were going to do this story and run it where and how long they did, should have been so much more. How many people in Ohio would be affected by this law? How many people work as strippers, as bouncers, as bar tenders, and how many patronize the clubs? What about the legislators. What prompted this law? What do they have to say? What about strippers who have had patrons go to far, who haven’t had such a good experience and who might welcome tightening restrictions? Maybe they’ve been reporting on this law for awhile… but I, not following the Ohio legislature or the plight of strippers, could have used some more context.

That’s my two cents.