The story starts off right, with great voice work by Temitayo Fagbenle and use of sound, mixing today’s media hungry landscape with Hester Prynne’s literary reality. It’s a bold statement to say that online slut-shaming is the new Scarlet Letter, but given the prevalence of these pictures and the response they get from peers — it’s a title that isn’t far from the truth.
Fearless with the use of words that many would shy away from – slut, ho, hussy — the producer gets right to the crux of the issue. There’s some great mixing here, not only technically, but in the way the producer mixed her own experience into the story without hesitation. It’s obvious she is young, immersed in this world, and only a little ambivalent about what’s happening in it — “maybe I should report it…” The personal side of this story is not too intrusive, and helps listeners relate. Not once did I feel dictated to, instead I felt like I was getting educated. This story lacks statistics and the nuts and bolts of a “reporter piece,” but effectively shines light on many sides of this issue without losing listener interest. The prevalence of social media in spreading information (approved and unapproved), the nature of girl-on-girl abusive gossip, and what little power victims of sexual cyber bullying have over their own online reputation are all addressed. This piece would fit perfectly into any series on technology, privacy, or web-crime.
Seamless scene transitions and conversational tone give authority to Temitayo’s commentary on a very pressing issue. When I first read the title, I immediately thought of the Steubenville rape case, where pictures and videos of a drunk, naked teenage girl spread through text and Twitter. Though an obvious crime, law enforcement is still having trouble pinning down who is guilty of what. The blame game is hard to play, when thousands of potential viewers can access private information at the click of a button, delete their history, or just sit by without reporting. I was glad to see the producer not only focused on the way young women talk about their classmates, but the way that young men, families, schools and social media sites react to the spread of these images. There’s a lot of issues that generation “i” will have to deal with, but privacy issues will certainly be near the top of that list, and this story is just a piece of the puzzle — but a nicely crafted one.