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Porn star?

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We've all heard or read about the sad story of El Dorado teen Emily Sander, who was found dead east of that town, after a series of bizarre circumstances.The Deciders have decided, and the narrative of her life has been written.This is AP copy which ran in the J-World:> Her fans knew her only as an Internet porn star named Zoey Zane.> But in this hamlet, Emily Sander's friends saw her as a vivacious teenager who worked hard days as a secretary at an electric company and went to night school to study business management. She dreamed one day of opening a piercing studio and becoming a movie director.This AP copy "More AP copy"), by the same reporter, appeared in the Chicago Tribune, among other places (complete with "pornstar" in the URL). The opening line:> The search for a missing college student who led a secret life as an Internet porn performer turned into a homicide case after her body was apparently found.Same reporter, different AP copy, first line:> A missing Kansas college student believed to be the victim of foul play apparently led a double life as an Internet porn star by the name of Zoey Zane.> Nude photos of 18-year-old Emily Sander appeared on a Zoey Zane Web site before she vanished, and investigators are looking into whether her modeling had anything to do with her disappearance last Friday.Each of these stories also appeared on the Topeka Capital-Journal's Web site.AP copy, Wichita Eagle:> The mother of a pregnant teenager on the run with the suspect in the death of an El Dorado college student is pleading for her daughter to call home and let her know she is OK.> In a statement e-mailed today to the Associated Press, Sandy Martens wrote that she would like to tell her daughter: "i miss you with all my heart... many people are praying for your return because they miss you... including your friends in others towns that you know... i love you and i miss that budha belly... and i want to feel my grandchild kick again... i love you victoria.. unconditional."> Authorities are looking for her daughter, Victoria, and believe she is still with suspect Israel Mireles, 24. He was seen on Nov. 23 leaving a bar with Emily Sander, the Butler Community College student who led a secret life as an Internet porn model. Her body was found Thursday.This story by the Eagle's own staff does not use the phrase. But every single AP story (most if not all by the same writer, Roxana Hegeman) uses some variant of the phrase "porn star". So does this story posted on the KMBC-TV Web site.Porn star? Really? Is that a fair characterization?I've been sitting on these thoughts for a post on my home blog for several days, which left me time to seek out -- with a considerable amount of trepidation and handwringing on my part -- the material in question. I'd have to say that, if what I've seen is an accurate characterization of the complete oeuvre, what she did does not rise to the level of "porn star". It says to me "naive girl who posed for nude photos, made bad decisions, and got mixed up in something not in her best interest who later was victimized by what appears to be a serial predator", but I guess that doesn't fit as well in a lede.The distinction between some naked pictures and "porn" may be a distinction without a difference to most people, but not to many -- especially not to those who knew her best.If nothing else, it illustrates the power of the media, concentrated in a single journalist, to sum up a human life and create history -- not to mention "moving product". I thought it was a grossly unfair characterization, but what do I know?I just hope the extra "product" moved as a result of working the word "porn" in was worth it.UPDATE: I read this again, and I realized that it could be reasonably inferred from what I've written here that I'm against the very mention of Emily Sander's "other job". I'm not. It's part of the story, and at the time it wasn't known whether the crime wasn't related to her Internet activities. Perhaps that information might have helped solve her murder. There's no way to know in advance whether it would have helped or not. The way it was characterized was not for any of those reasons, however.

Comments

Ronda Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

This was thought provoking on many levels, Jason. When we remember that different people have different jobs for publishing a paper, it helps us better understand the headline choices - the attitude/job of selling newspapers might be quite different from the journalist's perspective as the person who actually interviewed and researched this woman's life. The further we distance ourselves from a direct source it seems, in my mind at least, the easier it is to turn something into a negative, a malformation either positive or negative, or a young woman into a porn star. Good job

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Alia Ahmed 6 years, 10 months ago

The continual focus on Emily Sanders being an internet "porn star" has also bothered me from the beginning. I agree, posting some nude pictures doesn't make someone a porn star. I think the totality of her life was reduced to this flashy (an seemingly inaccurate) headline because that's what the public seems to want. I think the writer, editor and the readers all influence how the news is reported (and sensationalized!) Readers also have the ability to shape the news. It makes me realize when I see these types of headlines, I could refuse to read the story or express my disagreement with the editor and publisher.

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