Sex, sex blogging and selling your story to the press

newspapers selling sex blogger stories

Recent events in the sex blogging community have highlighted just how much caution one should exercise when talking to or dealing with the press. The national press in particular is infamous for distorting the truth in an attempt to sell stories through either scandal, provocative subjects, images which are ‘share-worthy’ on the web, or headlines which probably don’t even vaguely resemble the original story.

Working and blogging in such a sensitive and already overly misinformed area of life as sexuality and the sex industry, it’s very disappointing on a personal level that someone who believes themselves to be in the same field would choose to naively speak to national press and not ensure they had full rights over what is published. It is perhaps too easy to believe that the facts alone would be published without any bias. One would hope that these ‘stories’ are reported for the purposes of education of people, rather than being motivated by trying to find a short-cut to fame, which so often sadly back-fires.

When one of our sex blogging or sexual education community takes that trip to the press, unfortunately it’s not just themselves they are representing. It’s the entire community. Any stories can be used to purport long held misinformed notions about sex bloggers, sex toys, even sex itself – about which many of us are working tirelessly to overturn negative attitudes. Motives may be good and pure, but the end result in the papers can be very different to those intentions. In the press’ desperate attempt to sell papers and gain website traffic, negativity and scandal could be the overwhelming tone of the story, which should be in direct conflict with any desire to be sex positive and a helpful sex educator.

Having been approached by the press on many occasions, I can quite honestly say that I haven’t been happy with the way that any journalist wanted to proceed with ‘the story’ (as they called it) as yet. I also have children, so there are even more issues to be vigilant about. One journalist went so far as to make handing over my children’s names and photographs one of the stipulations for appearing in a national paper. Of course, I quickly declined.

If you do wish to appear nationally in whatever medium – newspaper, high ranking news website, on the television or the radio – perhaps it would be best to seek advice from others within the community first. Get their opinions on what issues they consider in need of a wider coverage. Which statements are best avoided? Which sentiments could easily be misconstrued – either accidentally or more likely, on purpose – by the press?

Above all, what is the reason for trying to take your viewpoint further afield than your own blog, social media and even the adult industry press? Is it really to highlight sexual education and positive sexuality issues to the general public, or is there a less benevolent reason such as wanting to see yourself in the papers, perhaps at the cost of the reputation of all the other sex bloggers and sex educators out there?

On balance, if you’re a sex blogger or see yourself as a sex educator, would you ever talk to a journalist in the national press – whether to sell your story or even receiving no money for your thoughts whatsoever?

– Cara Sutra

4 COMMENTS

  1. You had a reporter ask for your children’s names and photos as a condition of writing a story?

    I would have said: “No way. Fuck you. In the ass. With no lube,” and then called the reporter’s editor to complain.

    Such a condition for granting an interview is needless, pointless and does not fall within any journalistic guidelines.

    However, I would check to see how the publication and the writer has handled sex-related stories in the past. If they’ve done so responsibly, I’d recommend considering granting an interview.

    In the past, I’ve passed on interviews if there was a condition that I release my “real” name. I write under a pseudonym to avoid bringing potential embarrassment to family members and clients that may not want to be associated with a sex blogger … or people I know who would use that information as gossip fodder. Asking for a “real” name is ethical and mandatory in the mainstream media world.

  2. I’m rather lucky that my family know what I do, know that I do it reasonably well and take seriously. As such, I’m often happy to use my real name, and they’re supportive when I pop up in any interviews.

    That said, I am becoming more and more selective as I learn from my own mistakes and from the mistakes of others just how impersonal and thoughtless some journalists can be. I’ve been lucky, I’ve never had my fingers burnt too severely, but that’s also because I’m cynical about doing it, even when I do agree to it.

    The subject of this post was not cynical, had not experienced how lazy journalists can be, and how guarded she needed to be to protect herself. What she did was monumentally naive, infuriatingly so. She had a responsibility not just to herself, but to all of us, and she betrayed that responsibility by selling it to a tabloid, who then sold it to another tabloid until, like a grown up version of Chinese Whispers, the truth became so convoluted that it was no longer possible to guess what her intentions were at the start of it.

    • Rather ironically, I was asked to a journo today – or rather, a features writer for a glossy – and this was going through my mind the whole time. I guess it does just come down to experience, maturity and not being out simply for glory and fame. Guarded is the perfect word. What we have as a community and in this industry does need guarding, protecting – because it is already so misunderstood and miscommunicated, as well as under fire from plenty of corners and battling against years of myth and morons.

      Thank you for your comment – means a lot that you’ve read my post and spent your time sharing your thoughts too. x

  3. Hello. I know a couple of journalists who went off to ply their trade in the national press.
    Regional journalism is relatively benign (known as ‘churnalism’ for their habit of rewriting press releases rather than having the time and resources to source and write actual stories). They also deal with contacts on a regular basis so try to maintain good relations.
    On the nationals, there’s not that personal element. Journalists are pressured to ‘get dirt’ by any means necessary. Often, even when they write a story in good faith, it will be twisted by tier upon tier of editors until it is virtually unrecognisable.
    I’m no expert but I’d back up what Cara says – if you get approached, talk to an experienced blogger with media savvy. Or even get ’em to sit in on the interview with you; that’s why A-listers always have their PRs with them. Record the interview yourself, too, and ask for the finished piece to be read back to you before publication.
    And above all, be absolutely aware that an editorial piece is not there to benefit you. It’s there to get readers / hits / generate buzz around the site / mag / paper publishing it. It’s also there to fit in with the editor’s / owner’s personal prejudices / business agenda.
    Keep your wits about you at all times!

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