Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Readers have a field day with Rihanna's striptease

Risque Rihanna adjusts herself during a photoshoot in the Northern Ireland countryside

Well, what a palaver over Rihanna. 'Topless romps', 'stripping in a cornfield', 'national outrage'. Every conceivable tabloid cliche thrown in - and then some.

The nation - nay, the world - divided over Alan Graham's moral outrage. Northern Ireland divided over its own sexuality/prudishness.

And divided over how others see us - a bulwark against moral decay, or a land of sexually repressed backwoodsmen.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had a dig at a Belfast Telegraph hack as she backed councillor Graham in the Daily Mail; Dannii Minogue and 'Babs' Windsor rallied to his defence on the telly.

Readers' Editor steeled himself for some adverse reaction to our publication of the pictures. Especially the online ones, which were raunchier than in print.

Only a trickle, as this column was going to press, anyway.

That's not to say the readers weren't joining in the debate.

Letters were lively and the online posts were, well, colourful to say the least.

Reaction among readers divided into three: for councillor Graham's stand; against his stand; and, of course, good oul' Norn Iron humour, which could extract a laugh from a black hole in the Orion Nebula.

One of my favourites on our website was: 'This is sheer sectarianism. Stripping in North Down, indeed. Why can't she strip in a Catholic area?' Classic. Talking of classics, I half-expected one of the red-tops to come up with the old Private Eye-style heading: 'Those disgraceful Rihanna pictures in full: pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.'

MEANWHILE away from the 'glamour' of showbiz to more weighty matters.

The public disgracing of The Independent's star columnist Johann Hari is an object lesson to all journalists of the need for utterly high standards.

Hari - contrary to all journalism training and normal practice - had taken to lacing up some of his interviews with material gleaned from elsewhere; other interviews, Press releases, etc.

The trouble is, he presented everything as part of the actual face-to-face interview and failed to identify the 'borrowed' quotes.

None of the subjects complained; however, he was found out anyway. The charge was plagiarism - and it was, effectively.

Hari has handed back an Orwell prize, is taking a period of unpaid leave and will undertake a journalism training course.

The Belfast Telegraph was, until relatively recently, a sister paper of The Independent and maintains a relationship with it still.

We published several of Johann Hari's articles - the complaints were about a relatively small number of his articles - and I'm not aware of any major issues with them. If anyone has information to the contrary, get in touch.

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