Point-counterpoint on Channel 4's World Naked Bike Ride coverage

The World Naked Bike Ride this past weekend presented coverage challenges aplenty to mainstream news organizations -- and Denver resident David Hirschi found the reportage offered by Channel 4 to be wanting, in a big way. He wrote an angry letter to Westword accusing the station of giving the story a negative slant. In his view, "The CBS4 newscasters made it quite clear in their Sunday morning broadcast that they sided with the opinions of the viewers that stated that the people who participated in this naked demonstration should be charged with a sexual crime. This does not seem to me to be a case of unbiased news coverage."

Nonsense, counters Tim Wieland, Channel 4's news director. Via e-mail, he notes, "Our reporting on Sunday morning fairly represented both sides of this story -- we explained the goal of the ride was to call attention to alternative means of transportation, and we reported that some residents found the demonstration to be offensive."

To read both arguments in their entirety, click "Continue."

Letter from David Hirschi:

I am concerned about CBS4's Sunday morning news coverage of the naked bike riders in Denver.

To me, their coverage seemed strongly biased against.

First, they interview a gentleman that is clearly racially biased against most white men, especially naked ones. He actually made a point of saying "White Guys" in his interview. I got the impression that it may have been less offensive to he and his wife if the naked people on bikes had been persons of color.

It is my opinion that much of the music that children listen to today is much more sexually suggestive, derogatory to women, and damaging to a child than is a naked person riding a bike.

Second, CBS4 airs an e-mail from a gentleman from Castle Rock who complains that there were children present.

My reply to him and his ilk would be:

If your children were raised to consider nudity a natural part of the human experience, then possibly a generation could be raised in the United States that isn't as obsessed with nudity, in the form of pornography, as is the current American generation. Comparisons of the U.S. to most European nations show that the U.S. has a much greater problem with obsession to all things sexual, and a significantly higher sexual crime rate.

The CBS4 newscasters made it quite clear in their Sunday morning broadcast that they sided with the opinions of the viewers that stated that the people who participated in this naked demonstration should be charged with a sexual crime. This does not seem to me to be a case of unbiased news coverage.

The Statute of Indecent Exposure in Colorado contains a provision that the perpetrator must have the intent to arouse sexually the person offended against.

That clearly wasn't the intent in this case.

These naked bike riders may have been offensive to many, if not most people. They are NOT sex offenders.

David Hirschi Denver, Colorado

E-mail from Tim Wieland:

Our reporting on Sunday morning fairly represented both sides of this story -- we explained the goal of the ride was to call attention to alternative means of transportation, and we reported that some residents found the demonstration to be offensive. In addition, we do allow our viewers to comment on news stories via "Instant Message" during our newscasts and we did receive some comments unfavorable to the ride -- but those are the opinions of our viewers, not an editorial position.

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