Nude photo of 'student' draws flood of criticism

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 12:00am

Industry watchdogs have reprimanded Next magazine for publishing nude pictures of a secondary student after the school she claimed to attend launched a letter-writing campaign against the weekly.

The Press Council said yesterday it had received more than 790 letters from students and teachers of ELCHK Lutheran Secondary School in Waterloo Road, Mongkok, since Next published the nude pictures in its May 8 issue - a record number of complaints.

The previous record was held by Eastweek and Three Weekly last year when they published nude pictures of a kidnapped actress, which attracted a combined 62 complaints.

The magazine claimed to profile a student from the school who took naked pictures of herself 'for her own entertainment' in March and April when schools were closed because of the Sars outbreak.

She was depicted wearing the Mongkok school uniform, but the school said the girl was not one of its students.

Photos in the magazine showed her lower body exposed but with the private parts blocked out.

'It is immaterial whether the girl was really a student of the school or a student at all,' the council said in a statement.

'Its purpose was to sensa- tionalise and titillate the reader. By citing a real school, the magazine clearly wanted to create a more realistic pornographic effect.'

It said the weekly was trying to exploit the legal line on pornographic publications.

The school was unavailable for comment yesterday. Next's editors did not return calls.

Chinese University journalism professor Kenneth Leung Wai-yin said that because the council was not a statutory body its reprimands did not carry legal weight and would probably be ignored.

'Magazine publishing is a very competitive business so unless they face real legal sanctions, a reprimand will not change their behaviour,' he said.

But Professor Leung said criticism by the council could still carry educational value.