The advent and proliferation of the internet facilitates the spread of ideas, from harmless cooking recipes to bootleg mp3s to the most horrific forms of child pornography exposed, to date. When purveyors of the latter are thwarted it seems a simultaneous victory and defeat for mankind: on one hand, child pornographers have been stopped, but on the other hand, the fact that such people and their perversions exist is terrifying. So, it is a bittersweet moment when US government officials can say that they've successfully dismantled and apprehended the members of a child pornography ring like that facilitated by "Dreamboard," an incentive-based forum in which users were encouraged to upload child pornography with a high bounty placed on "super-hardcore" content and content created by the users themselves. (1) In exchange for making their private collections available to the rest of the Dreamboard community, members were rewarded with higher ranks and increased access to the site's content. To view content members were required to post content. In fact, according to CNN, if members did not upload content at least once every 50 days, they risked termination of their membership to the board.(2) This past Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano publicized the case and that 72 members of Dreamboard have been charged with child pornography crimes. (3 Vancouver Sun)
I reviewed BBC, USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, and The Vancouver Sun's online coverage of the breaking news and, overall, I didn't see much variation in slant, possibly due to an almost universal public opinion on the horrors of child pornography. No political bias could cause any news outlet in it's right mind to portray Dreamboard as anything but an abhorrence and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) "Operation Delego" team, which lead the investigation, as anything but a savior. The biggest difference I found was that, among the articles I reviewed, The Vancouver Sun and Christian Science Monitor articles were the only ones to include the names of some of the perpetrators. In the case of The Vancouver Sun, the two names listed were Canadian men. I also found that CNN was the only source to claim that all 600 purported users of Dreamboard were men, a claim that is hard for me to believe.
In terms of sources, all of the papers must have obtain much of their information from Wednesday's announcement. Furthermore, all of the articles, save for The New York Times quoted Eric Holder saying: "The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the pre-eminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation but for the children they victimized this was nothing short of a nightmare." CNN, Christian Science Monitor, The Vancouver Sun, and The New York Times all quoted and referred to ICE director John Morton and CNN, USA Today, and The New York Times all quoted and referred to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Interestingly, only CNN and BBC quoted Janet Napolitano. The Vancouver Sun reached out to the RCMP, the national police force of Canada for a statement and USA Today quoted Michelle Collins, a VP of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
I would say the article with the most content was the one from CNN. It gave the most comprehensive coverage and in-depth information. In contrast, the New York Times article was very brief and more like an overview than a full news story. The Vancouver Sun's article was more focused in Canada while the rest of the articles were USA-centric, possibly due to the facts that they are, save for BBC, American publications and that the story broke in the US.
1. Kevin Johnson, "Feds Charge 72 people in international online child sex ring," USA Today, August 3rd, 2011, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-08-03-child-sex-abuse_n.htm.
2. Terry Frieden, "72 charged in online global child porn ring," CNN, August 3rd, 2011, http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/03/us.child.porn.ring/index.html?iref=allsearch.
3. Amy Minsky, "Two canadians named in massive international child porn bust," The Vancouver Sun, August 3rd, 2011, http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Canadians+named+massive+international+child+porn+bust/5201671/story.ht.ml