Story Ideas: Hottest Freshmen Photo Spread and Profiles

At the start of fall, put out the call: Seeking model first-year students.  Amid the serious news, op-ed rants, and sports recaps, there is always room for some primping and posing.  Need proof?  Check out a recent feature run in Fifteen Minutes, Harvard Crimson‘s culture/lifestyle magazine, spotlighting Harvard’s “hottest freshmen.”

As its introduction states, “In the urban jungle that is Cambridge, FM goes on an annual hunt to gather the most attractive freshmen from the Common to the city. Check out these stunning members of the class of 2013 as they go downtown and up to the country.”

The feature includes a Q&A and a photo showing each student in sunlit, fashionable splendor. It is a creative way to profile students who might otherwise not be “newsworthy.” It feeds the student ego (we all have a craving to unlock the secret model within us). :-)  It gives student photogs a chance to unleash some innovative lensing.  And the list component leaves room for campus debate (i.e. who should have been included/left out).  There may also be the possibility for tie-ins with local fashion outlets, possibly even with an advertising stipulation.

The FM also rightly adds a multimedia component- in this case a video of the models’ photo shoot.  And of course, it does not have to be freshmen.  It can be other years or centered on different types of students- commuters, athletes, student government officers- or even faculty or staff.

6 Responses to “Story Ideas: Hottest Freshmen Photo Spread and Profiles”
  1. Bryan Murley says:

    Because what we need from journalism is more of this!


  2. Dan says:

    :-) Tsk, tsk. There is plenty of room to lay some soft stuff atop the hard news base.

  3. Bryan Murley says:

    I am not necessarily concerned with the “soft stuff” part of it (I worked as a feature writer for a while, after all), but more the explicit focus on looks. There’s enough in our culture that objectifies and worships at the altar of surface “beauty” aka “hottest (whatever that means), without more journalists wallowing in that genre and reinforcing society’s less-than-useful characteristics.

    OTOH, maybe I should do a “hottest college webmasters” post. I’m sure it would drive traffic.

    OTOH, I would rather gouge my eyes out with hot pokers.

    Also, I would note there is not one person who doesn’t look like they were peeled out of the pages of a glossy fashion magazine. There are no objective qualifications listed that the editors used to define “hot,” and not one of the images I saw showed any of these people with an ounce of extra body fat. Imagine the impact this might have on other members of the freshmen class. Now they have something to aspire to! Anorexia here we come!

  4. Bryan Murley says:

    I should add that I would have no problem if some group on campus (say the fraternity/sorority council) or whoever decided to do something like this to raise money, but I don’t like this when People magazine does it, and I like it even less when a journalistic enterprise like the Harvard Crimson does it.

    And I should separate this from the “sex issue” question. College paper “sex issues” are a legitimate place to present a difficult topic if done correctly. This is just furthering a twisted notion of beauty.

  5. Dan says:

    Agree completely with your last point. Sex issues and sex columns are chock full of intriguing, worthwhile content in a sexual climate unfortunately otherwise overrun by backlit cleavage and sex ed. dryness or superficiality but lacking real discussion. This hottest ‘whatever’ phenomenon is not as worthwhile but still reflects a cultural undercurrent. It’s an offshoot of our Facebook/Next Top Model obsessiveness with sharing ourselves and celebrating beauty. It’s not the Crimson staffers who defined the thin-fashionista hotness rubric. It’s all of us. Your idea about defining a specific type of hotness is interesting though! In the meantime, I don’t see anything wrong with giving photographers a chance to have some fun, some students a chance to lightheartedly ham it up, and readers a chance to debate whether those featured are truly hot or not and what the list means overall. Btw, thanks for the shout-out in your current curated links list- you have a block about my last name though! Reimold, not Riemold. :) Cheers.

  6. Bryan Murley says:

    It’s not the Crimson staffers who defined the thin-fashionista hotness rubric. It’s all of us.

    But it’s not *all* of us that define this. It’s the magazines, and the fashion industry who thin down the models who appear on the covers of magazines. And for this specific issue it *was* the Crimson staffers who chose who was “hot.” They didn’t even tell anyone what their rubric was. How did they do that? Through the lens of their own personal tastes and preferences.

    Look at the “Next Top Model,” for instance, a show that I have had the misfortune of having to sit through more than once (don’t ask). It’s not the public who decides who is attractive enough to be a model, it’s a bunch of fashion elites.

    And, FWIW, I don’t have a problem with photographers having fun with a feature, hamming it up. But what about a “what to wear for summer” shoot? Or “different looks around campus” shoot? Or “Celebrating Individuality” shoot?

    The point being, none of those topics require that one define the “hotness” (read “beauty”) of the individuals in the shoot. “Hotness” is inevitably subjective, but in a sense you are right that it is shaped by culture. But where does the culture get its cues? From entertainment, advertising, media. The “hot” issue is just reinforcing stereotypes of beauty (both in men and women).

    Interesting discussion. And I apologize for the name. I think it’s the old “i before e except after c” thing. :)