Berkeleyside set off a storm of controversy on Monday when it posted a video of a group of naked bicyclists riding through Berkeley.
The shot displayed on Berkeleyside’s front page showed a naked man’s genitals and a naked woman’s breasts.
A number of readers complained, saying the photo was offensive and unprofessional, and should not have been posted. Rather there should have been a link to the video or a less graphic photo displayed, they suggested.
When the Berkeleyside editors sent out our intern, Robert A. Mills, to shoot the video, we thought he was merely reporting on one of the interesting slices of Berkeley life.
Mills tried to be careful in shooting the event and in most of the video the participants’ private parts are hidden behind bicycle seats and other obstructions. But there are glimpses of naked people throughout the video.
The video was posted to You Tube, which randomly selects three scenes from a video and rotates them as screen grabs. The first screen grab selected was the photo that some readers found offensive.
This has been a learning experience for Berkeleyside, as the editors did not realize exactly how You Tube worked. That said, when we did see the nude shots we were not that bothered by them. We did not rush to take down the video. You Tube did that for us later, probably because an irate reader flagged the video. According to You Tube guidelines, the video did not violate their community standards as the nudity was not in a sexual context. Berkeleyside then used Vimeo to repost the video. That service gave us more control over which image was displayed on the site’s front page.
We decided to poll our readers on Facebook and find out how many felt Berkeleyside went too far in posting the video. By 10:30 am today, 60 readers said no, Berkeleyside did not go too far, two said yes, and two were undecided.
If Berkeleyside upset readers, we are sorry. That was not our intention. We appreciate how quickly you let us know, and we appreciate the commentary in support and in opposition to our decision. Once again, the Berkeleyside comment boards have been a fascinating place to linger. Please share your views. The editors only ask — again — that we try and keep the discourse civil.