In recent years, the television news stations in West Michigan have aggressively marketed their websites to viewers and in some cases have said that they can provide supplemental coverage that they can’t afford to provide on air. They even go so far as to suggest that they are doing their viewers a favor.
The practical effect of local news stations investing resources in their websites has often meant overly bloated pages cover in ads (or even pop-under ads in the case of WOOD TV 8) that are packed with all manner of features designed to attract visitors and advertising revenue. In some cases, the features might be useful–for example in the case of voter guides–but often they are just things like coupons or less than interesting blog postings.
However, some new features on WXMI Fox 17’s site caught my eye yesterday. In their quest for viewers, they’ve made some awful choices that appeal to some of the worst inclinations in the U.S.
They’ve added a “Babes of Fox” photo gallery–perhaps taking some inspiration from local radio stations–to appeal to the more misogynist elements in West Michigan. As if the entertainment media isn’t filled with enough hyper-sexualized content, now WXMI seems to think we need to see it on a news website. The worst part is probably the fact that this content–and what it teaches us about how heterosexual men are supposed to view women–is promoted on every page. So for example, on a story about a man accused of raping an Iraqi girl, WXMI plugs their “Babes of Fox” feature.
They’ve also added a gallery of “Mug Shots.” While they accompany them with the text “Arrest and booking photos are provided by law enforcement officials. Arrest does not imply guilt, and criminal charges are merely accusations,” there is really no reason for them to be on the site. In their gallery, the overwhelming majority are people of color–which just reinforces the racist notion that most crime is committed by people of color.
I know we can’t expect much from television news, but come on–this is pathetic!