‘Sex and a Whole Load of Carnage’: UK Student Newspaper Criticized for Explicit Front Page

It’s a Thursday morning in December, so here’s some free advice for college media mavens worldwide: You may want to steer clear of publishing a front-page story celebrating your student body’s sexual antics right next to a separate report on a series of suspected rapes. You’re welcome.

A student newspaper in Britain aligned that combustible mix in a recent issue, resulting in oodles of criticism, some media attention and an apology.

The University Paper, a student-centered outlet distributed on and near college campuses across the UK, ran a page-one “Exclusive” in its Newcastle University edition focused on a sex-fueled “Freshers Week.” Along with official activities, the new student orientation apparently boasts a bevy of alcohol, oral sex, threesomes, foursomes, “a trail of lost shoes, thongs and dignity” and “more one night stands and walk of shames than ever before.” (Should it be walk of shames or walks of shame?)

The graphic rundowns of these antics in the article — headlined “Sex, Trebles and a Whole Load of Carnage” — incited controversy on their own. They earned even more ire for being placed directly adjacent to a serious report on a rash of recent sexual assaults. The visual and literal alignment of the pieces is cringeworthy at best and insanely offensive at worst.

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Along with a statement of concern from school officials, area residents weighed in with expressions of both confusion and contempt. Why? Because in addition to campus distribution points, the paper is mailed to residents in university communities.

To that end, after receiving the “Sex and Carnage” issue, a 64-year-old man living near Newcastle U. in a magical land known as Sandyford provided possibly the best disgusted-by-student-press quote of the year: “It’s something you would find in a porn magazine and it came through a family letter box. I’m not a prude by any standards, but it’s so explicit.”

In its subsequent issue, TUP editors apologized and offered area residents the option of no longer receiving the paper in the mail. A portion of the apology:

“We got it wrong and we’re sorry. The University Paper went over the top with its coverage of the antics of students during Freshers’ Week in our last issue. … In particular, we apologize for placing a story detailing the sexual antics of the students next to a serious report of five sexual assaults on young women. … The juxtaposition trivialized the very serious and upsetting nature of the sex assaults. … As you can hopefully see from this issue, we have moved on and TUP you have in your hands is now a different, much improved product.”

Two pages after the apology, the paper ran a piece on a guy who went viral for hitting his head on a lamppost while his friend attempted to take a selfie.

Happy Tuesday.

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