August 5, 2019

Why Can't Journalism about Nudism Be Better?

Written by 
Matthew McDermott
Categories:

Journalism about nudists is terrible.

Newspapers and websites love nudism. The nudity taboo is so strong in our society that anything involving naked people is a reader magnet. Journalists play straight into this narrative with articles that are designed to tap into readers’ naughty thrills.

The result: terrible writing about nudists and nudism. Articles treat nudists like an alien species, or like a gang of lunatics ostracized in “colonies”. They use childish jokes, unfunny references to body parts, and the most tired cliches imaginable. How often does an article promise the “bare facts” about nudism?

As nudists, we can we can start to influence how nudist topics are covered. Society is probably not going to start to respect, or even accept, nudists any time soon. But we can take positive, constructive action to shift the standard narrative away from its childish, sniggering shamefulness, and towards a positive, accepting view of nudism.

Here are some actions we can take any time we encounter poor coverage of nudists in the news.

  • Contact the public editor or ombudsman. Most established media outlets have an individual who readers can appeal to if they perceive a breach of journalistic standards or ethics. Write to this person and ask why the publication felt it was okay to make fun of nudists and nudism.
  • Write a letter to the editor. Yes, it’s old school, but letters to the editor have an impact as a public rebuttal to poor journalism. You may be concerned that you’ll be “outed” as a nudist, so go ahead and submit it under a pseudonym.
  • Question the writer directly. In the twitter age, you can find the author (or their publication) and ask them to answer for their poor journalism. Don’t be aggressive! Instead, address their misconceptions about nudism, and ask them to update their article. Help the journalist better understand nudism, so their coverage can improve in the future.

Wherever we respond, though, attitude is crucial to getting our message across. The general public already believes the narrative about nudists being slightly deranged, out of touch with social norms, and oversexed or perverted. It’s extremely damaging to nudists to play into this narrative.

A common mistake is to try to turn others into nudists. You won’t convert anyone; you’re likely to come off as a weird crank who wants to see other people naked. Don’t say “If you only tried it...” Leave non-nudists out of it.

And do not escalate the dispute. Accusatory language (“How dare you!”), victimhood (“We’re being persecuted!”), and anger (“You fool!”) will all weaken your argument.

Instead, concentrate on the positive nature of nudist philosophy. Less shame, more body positivity. People from all walks of life enjoy nudism. We’re not harming anyone. We welcome an opportunity to discuss our values.

One of the benefits of the nudist culture is the exceptionally friendly individuals involved in the lifestyle promoting well-being and healthy life choices.

This is a great message to put out into the world! Incorporate those positive values as much as you can when you call out poor coverage of nudism.

The search for acceptance of nudism in our nudity-averse society is an uphill battle. If all nudists become active, positive advocates for the nudist philosophy, though, we can’t fail to improve others’ attitudes as well, even if they choose not to take part in the lifestyle themselves.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you found any examples of good journalism about nudism? Post links in the comments below!

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Matthew McDermottTony YoungMatthew McDermottALLAN RAMSAYCharles Daney Recent comment authors

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Robert G. Longpré
Guest

I appreciate the ideas that you are putting forth here, Matthew. I hope some follow up with this and that a new narrative emerges.

Madeofstars
Guest
Madeofstars

Essential guide to writing a rubbish article about nudism: Promise the "bare facts" and to "get to the bottom of it" Use the phrase "letting it all hang out (Whatever "it" is) Always capitalise the word NAKED Make a reference to carry-on films Invite public comments which inevitably comprises repeated uninformed comments about leaving stains on furniture and complaints from voyeurs about naturists not being the people they wanted to see naked. Yes I agree, naturists are very badly portrayed by journalism, but that is not surprising. I think A lot of Journalists actually write good articles, but their editors… Read more »

Charles Daney
Guest

I just made a post on my blog that gives several examples of good journalism about naturism. (https://www.naturistplace.com/theblog/2019/09/22/recent-articles-on-nudity-and-naturism-9-22-19/)
Your post is included in the list. One important point I'd make is that reporters writing about naturism should actually experience naturist nudity themselves by getting naked. It’s not necessary that they actually enjoy it, but they should at least try it. Why should a reader bother with a review of, say, a new restaurant if the reviewer had only visited and hadn’t eaten there?

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[…] I’ve said before, journalism about nudism is terrible. Let’s keep up the pressure on newspapers and news sites to cover nudity fairly, ethically, and […]

ALLAN RAMSAY
Guest

Excellent article, Matthew. I'm linking it in the Treasure Coast Naturists "Beach Blast" newsletter for January 1, 2020. TCN is the non-profit that has worked with government officials in Florida for more than five years to establish Blind Creek Beach a clothing optional beach. More info if you're interested at treasurecoastnaturists.org.

Matthew McDermott
Guest
Matthew McDermott

Thank you so much, Allan! If you could forward me a copy of that newsletter (or put me on the mailing list) I would really appreciate it. You can contact me at info@writenude.com.

Tony Young
Guest

Good article, though admittedly in my nudist films I play up the victimhood and the accusatory attitudes, but I find a balance. That's why I encourage more young voices. A teenage nudist is allowed to feel like a victim, until an older nudist challenges him or her. Younger nudists will be angry, but we never see this in media. Nudists are portrayed as peace-loving hippies, but there are some of us who are truly pissed off. We have the right to express that.

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