Sex Sales

I know why the Morning News dropped sex ads--but why are we trying to?

Understandable, if you believe such ads are harmful to your reputation or peace of mind. And so many readers and advertisers fixate on these ads, I suppose it makes sense to do whatever it takes to diminish their impact.

But I still don't see why a paper that prides itself on describing to its readers the messy, slimy, adult way the world really works should be so ashamed of titillating advertisements.

"We run hooker ads. Let's call them what they are," says Dallas Observer editor Julie Lyons. "I hate them. I think they're disgusting. They embarrass me...Alison's decision to tone them down, to reduce the number we run and move out the worst offenders was the most courageous thing I've ever seen a publisher do. Remember that she did this during a recession. We're a better paper because of it, and her decision hasn't hurt us financially. If we get rid of all of them, I think we'll do even better."

Lyons mentions she was upset when she read that the 13-year-old prostitutes recently arrested in Plano were runaways who met their pimp through a Dallas Observer ad. "Yeah, it's a free country, but I don't care how liberal you are, how much you think you're a supporter of the First Amendment, that's just shameful."

Yes, it is, no question. But I'm still torn as to whether running such ads is a bad thing. I know it's good business, at least in terms of dollars and cents. I don't care what anyone says; if this newspaper opened its doors to every whore, hooker, harlot, stripper, dominatrix, gigolo, stud, pimp, madam and porn star in Dallas, it would make a lot more money than anything it could recoup from a few more "respectable" advertisers.

But if you decide that it shouldn't only be about the money, that the ads we run in the paper set a tone that should be monitored, fine.

Then run the ads because you're "alternative," sanitize them because they offend you, take enough money to cover the cost of producing those pages because you're a business and donate every other cent you make from escort ads to a women's shelter because you think it's the right thing to do. And stop forcing me to question my moral ambiguity. It makes me uncomfortable.

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