Issues raised by report about naked woman

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RICK JACKSON: Girl power rules – at the age of two

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We published a letter on the Your Views page of The News in which a reader took us to task for printing a picture and story about a woman who walked naked along a street in Southsea.

The correspondent made her point clearly and, if you have not already done so, I invite you to read what she had to say.

‘I found your article about the woman who ‘roamed the streets’ naked insensitive and unkind.

What if this lady has a mental health problem? You have not made matters any better by your article and also photograph with the silly caption on it.

As for people who were quoted as feeling angry about the woman, surely they could have felt sad that this lady may have been ill and not knowing what she was doing.

This was not a ‘streak’ at a football match done in fun, there was obviously a problem, and your article was out of order – you should find out the facts before writing this sort of sensation seeking journalism.’

We took some criticism as well in comments posted alongside the story on this website with a common theme that we should not have highlighted the actions of someone who seemed to have mental health problems.

I’d start by saying that we apologise for any offence caused – that was certainly not our intention.

The incident, as described in the story, happened in one of the main areas of Southsea during the morning rush hour and so was witnessed by a large number of people.

Some accused us of sensationalism – we feel that we merely reported what eyewitnesses told us, and those people on the scene to whom we spoke reacted with distress, shock and anger.

They included parents with young children going to school when the incident happened.

Our decision to publish the story was based on reporting what was a very public incident and setting it in the correct context.

Many people witnessed the event without necessarily being aware of the circumstances surrounding it.

Our story started by saying that the woman was distressed and this perhaps was reinforced by our confirmation that police had released her without further action after taking her into custody for her own protection.

Some of those who posted comments on our website said that we should simply not have published the story at all. I don’t agree with that. The woman’s actions were unusual and attention-provoking and it is the job of the newspaper to report on incidents and happenings in which people have a legitimate interest.

That said, I accept that, as can often be the case with decisions we make, not everyone will agree with our call.