Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Dreamboard is sickening
After an investigation started in 2009, 72 people have been charged with taking part in an intense child pornography site called "Dreamboard." 52 have been arrested and 13 have already plead guilty, 4 of which will serve 20-30 years in prison. The website had about 600 members from many different nations and was designed as a bulletin where members were required to put up new photos or videos in order to gain access to more of the material on the website. The children were all supposed to be 12 or younger and some were infants. I read a lot of different articles from news sources all over the country and although many of the basic facts were the same, the styles of writing and some very specific information, were very different.
I chose to read a large variety of articles because when I decided to write about this it wasn't even on The New York Times website. I was on BBC.com and saw the headline, "US charges 72 global child porn operation," obviously that was intriguing enough for me to decide to write about it. The only problem at that point was there were a limited amount of articles on the subject The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, were the first I found. I had to keep googling 'dreamboard news' and eventually all the major news sources such as CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, and lastly, The New York Times, had articles. In between those 4 major news sources The LA Times, The Los Angeles Independent, and The Seattle PI (owned by Hearst Communications) also came up in my search.
The first thing I noticed right away about the articles was whether or not they had quotes in them. For the most part, the smaller news sources did not use much quotation from government officials. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer is quoted in USA Today, The Washington Post, and MSNBC saying that dreamboard is, "a living horror." The Christian Science Monitor and CNN used the most overall quotes but neither used Breuer's quote. Instead they focused on quotes from the Attorney General, the director of ICE, and CNN had a quote from Janet Napolitano. Christian Science Monitors and CNN's articles were the most informative and gave good background into the websites workings. The New York Times and BBC's stylistic approach to the story was to give a fairly vague overview of the happenings, which I found not very useful, but if I was just looking for an overview they would have done well.
The use of images and video was something that stood out as an immediate difference between the various sites. Pictures or videos accompanying an article can help give the receiver more insight on the subject. MSNBC and CNN were the only two websites with videos. CNN has two videos, one is of Attorney General Eric Holder at a press conference and the other is a TV news clip that allows you to see some of the set up of the website. MSNBC uses the same video of the Attorney General but it is a shorter clip, and, therefore, a little less informative. The LA Times, BBC, and USA Today were the only three that used images to accompany their articles, the images are all of government officials during press conferences. By showing us images of the people whose quotes we are receiving it allows the reader to connect a face to an idea. One thing almost all the news sources had in common, except CNN, was referring to the websites users with gender neutral words like 'people' or 'member'. CNN says, "About 600 men belonged to the members-only online bulletin board." They were the only website that said that the users were all men. It's possible that this could be a true statement, but as of now they have yet to locate all of the websites users so there's still room for a member to be a woman, although as a woman, I hope not.
Between all of the articles there was no major slant, probably due to everyone having the same general feelings about a subject this appalling. I found that the biggest difference in focus of the articles was between the community news sources and the metropolitan sources. The smaller news sources put names of the people charged and involved in the website to inform the community. In one article I read on The Los Angeles Independent, the article itself has the headline "6 Southland men allegedly linked to international child sex ring." The rest of the article is relatively short but then at the end it puts the name, ages, and cities of all 6 men. A similar headline was, " Redmond man charged with child porn following largest probe in history," from the Seattle PI. The Redmond article gives information to the reader about Myszke- Francis, a member of the site who posted dozens of photos. The only large news sources that mentioned specific names were CSM, who mentions the names of those who have jail sentences, and MSNBC, who mention an assistant football coach who was involved in the website and posted 78 images over the course of 2 years. The smaller news sources truly try to appeal to information that directly affects the people in the area for which they are writing. Unlike the smaller news sources, the metropolitan news all gave in-depth background information on the workings of the website so that many people can read and have a better understanding of the overall story.
I felt I got the most information off the CNN and CSM websites due to their in-depth background into the website. Although I got the most information from those two websites, I enjoyed the Seattle PI article most, since it dealt directly with one member of the online pornography group. The New York Times article I found to be the least interesting and containing much of the same news I had already read, but in less detail. I'm interested to see how the rest of this story will unfold in the days ahead and if there will be more details and if all the names of member will be released in one place. Also, I am curious how they will proceed dealing with the children involved and if they will b able to help or identify them in any way.