Naked newscasters strip away all but the bare facts

(AFP)
2007-05-14 08:51
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Naked newscasters strip away all but the bare factsSome people have a dress down day at work. Victoria Sinclair has dress off day -- every day.

As lead anchor for the online subscription channel "Naked News," Sinclair has been titillating viewers for more than six years, removing her clothes while announcing everything from interest rate rises to sports results.

To the casual viewer, the program opens like many other news bulletins, with a banner "Naked News" sweeping around a spinning globe fading into an announcer in a studio standing in front of a bank of television screens.

The half-hour news segments, which are sourced from wire reports, could easily come from any of several more mainstream news outlets -- until, that is, the announcers start undressing.

Sinclair brushes off criticism that the program trivializes current events and objectifies women, saying such attitudes are simply outdated.

"I think these people tend to associate nudity with immorality. I think it's a knee-jerk hangover from our grandparents' values," a fully-clothed Sinclair told AFP in New York this week. "There's nothing sexual about it."

She counters that other media outlets do more damage to the news by sensationalizing reports with over-the-top music and graphics.

"If you only listen to Naked News, you will come away very, very well informed," she said, adding that the channel covers all the top stories. She says doing otherwise would be "a complete disservice to our audience."

In one recent bulletin, anchor Roxanne West went from fully-clothed during an item on Northern Ireland's power-sharing assembly to topless for a report on Japan's controversial Yasukuni war shrine.

Along the way, she shed a black pencil skirt during a segment on the Janjaweed militia in Sudan and a colored bra during a report on climate change.

The panties came off during a report on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert battling to keep his job.

Sinclair says the hardest part of the job is covering natural disasters or atrocities such as the September 11 attacks in 2001.

"We stayed fully dressed, all of us, for the entire week" after the attacks, she said. The program later resumed with a completely nude format, judging stripping to be inappropriate in such circumstances.

"We wanted to show our respect," Sinclair said. "We didn't want to add that extra entertainment part of it."

Critics have long accused the program of trivializing news but the channel still manages to attract tens of thousands of viewers from more than 150 countries around the world for its Internet subscription service.

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