Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elton's US Weekly Cover Censored by Arkansas Grocery Store

This is one of those stories that demonstrates the power of the internet and social media. By the time most bloggers and news agencies reported it, it was over.

As I reported last Tuesday, Britain's OK Magazine published the first baby pics of Elton John and David Furnish's newborn son Zachary on its cover. This week US Weekly also published the photos, using the same cover pic.

Here's how it all went down. Jennifer Huddleston, a young woman from Mountain Home, Arkansas, took this pic of the censored US cover at her local Harps grocery store and posted in on Twitter. Within minutes, the pic made its way across the Twitterverse and FaceBook, causing worldwide outrage and a major headache for the folks at Harps' corporate office.

The food chain's home office was flooded with complaints by phone and e-mail from all over the country and around the world. Harps President Kim Eskew told CNN that it is corporate policy to allow local store managers decide what magazines to cover with the Family Shield, which it provides to all its stores.

Eskew explained the decision to uncover the celebrity news magazine, "When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any cover. Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which, when brought to our attention, we reversed."

Eskew explained that the shield is intended for racy covers, like those regularly featured by Maxim and other more adult magazines directed toward heterosexual men. The use of the shield is left to discretion of each store manager.

By the end of the day, the Family Sheild was removed, as evidenced by Huddleston's follow up pic.

This whole thing just amazes me. First of all the the photo of a family welcoming its first child should be considered worthy of censorship in the first place. Then, that the whole issue was resolved within hours, due to the power of social media. I am blown away.

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