The Erik Wemple Blog on Friday petitioned the New York Times for an interview regarding this story: “The Selfie That Dares to Go There: Men are not the only ones texting pictures of their private parts,” by Laren Stover. We received a “no” from the newspaper. “We do not plan to comment beyond the editor’s note, which was comprehensive,” notes New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha.
Who can dispute that characterization? This is what the editor’s note says:
Editors’ Note: July 11, 2018
An earlier version of this article included an anecdote about a married man who received an intimate selfie from a woman who was not his wife; the article also included comments from others about the selfie.
Editors were not aware until after publication that the married man was the writer’s husband. If editors had realized the connection, the incident would not have been included, or would have been described differently. That material has now been removed from the article.
The Internet, of course, doesn’t allow the New York Times to completely remove the material from public view. It’s right there on the NewsDiffs tracking site. Here’s much of the “material” in question:
A tale of cyber-infidelity is what inspired my research into the selfie erogenous zone after a group of us at Bosie Tea Salon in Greenwich Village glimpsed one that a married man received by direct message from a Twitter fan in California: a 48-year-old Turkish-Armenian housewife, mother of two and “lover of fine art” called Vivien (not her real name). It was captioned, without irony, “snap.”
From the awkward angle, purpled hue and identifying features, we realized Vivien had missed the advice on lighting and how to take the perfect anonymous shot (it’s all out there on Google) and included not only the beauty mark under her right breast but also a pierced heart necklace.
An attendee of the gathering named Shiran, 26, who recently received a degree in sustainability from Harvard’s extension school, said he didn’t get intimate iPhone selfies, only booty pics, but would be “pumped” if he did. He looked disappointed when he saw the shot and deemed Vivien’s “not well curated.”
Jezebel rapped the New York Times for setting up a review panel of sorts for Vivien’s intimate photograph.
As for the journalistic lessons at hand, well, editors at the New York Times and their ilk are tasked with quizzing reporters about their anonymous sources — their possible motivations, their names, their occupations. For your average story, that’s a pretty workmanlike conversation: “Who’s this person questioning President Trump’s ethics?” “Who provided this email from this cable-news big shot?” As for “uh, just how did you know this man received a vagina selfie?” — maybe the good ol’ desk editor didn’t feel as comfortable with that one.