Newspapers and blogs: Closer than we think?

David Vaina is a research associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Back in the mid-1850s, the English philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that a citizenry could not, would not, flourish unless it was nourished by the full spectrum of voices that exist among the people:

It is, however, obvious that law and authority have no business with restraining either [side or sides of the debate], while opinion ought, in every instance, to determine its verdict by the circumstances of the individual case, condemning every one, on whichever side of the argument he places himself, in whose mode of advocacy either want of candour, or malignity, bigotry, or intolerance of feeling manifest themselves; but not inferring these vices from the side which a person takes, though it be the contrary side of the question to our own; and giving merited honour to every one, whatever opinion he may hold, who has calmness to see and honesty to state what his opponents and their opinions really are, exaggerating nothing to their discredit, keeping nothing back which tells, or can be supposed to tell in their favour. This is the real morality of public discussion.

Well over one hundred years later, the blogosphere came into our lives, allowing us, in the words of Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, to “hear voices that had been shut out of the corporate media outlets.”

These old “corporate media outlets,” refusing to fade away, have held their ground. According to William Dietrich, a writer with the Seattle Times Sunday magazine, the sacred purpose of the newspaper reporter “is to fulfill an essential function of our democracy not just by disseminating information but also by analyzing it, detecting patterns, spotting trends, and increasing societal understanding.” Indeed, bloggers may generate a more democratic Public Square, but can they facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of how political events are most likely to evolve, the Old Guard worries and wonders. In other words, Mill might not be enough.

To contribute to this Great Debate, I decided to conduct a content analysis of how blogs and newspapers covered the Iraq War during one week in late March 2007. By looking at how the two media have sourced their news stories, I hoped to offer insights into what exactly the American public “hears” from newspapers and blogs.

More specifically, my research, by examining five major newspapers and six popular political blogs, sought to answer three questions:

  • Which media platform uses more sources?
  • Which offers a more diverse range of sources?
  • And which types of sources are more prevalent in each platform?


Overall, the data showed that blogs included a higher number of total sources and a slightly wider range of sources.

Blogs included an average number of nine sources per blog posting, compared to an average of just six for newspapers stories.

The gap between newspapers and blogs was considerably narrower when evaluating the types of sourcing. Still, blogs were slightly more diverse in their sourcing, with four sources per posting compared to an average of three in newspaper stories.

Digging deeper, which types of sources were the two media most likely to use?

Both blogs and newspapers were likely to include traditional Washington sources, both political and intellectual.

But blogs and newspapers did diverge in several key ways. Compared to newspapers, blogs were considerably less likely than newspapers to include official Iraqi sources.

And perhaps as a tell-tale sign of what the mainstream press really thinks of the blogosphere, just two percent of newspaper stories used a blog as a source. Not surprisingly, bloggers used other bloggers as sources at almost the same frequency as they used the mainstream press.

Sourcing in Blogs

Seven in ten (69%) blog postings included a mainstream media outlet (e.g. Washington Post, AP, The New York Times) as a source and 64% used other bloggers as sources.

Political Washington was well represented. Thirty percent of all stories had a source from a Democratic politician or party strategist, 28% included one from a Republican or GOP operative, and 23% included a source from the White House.

Meanwhile, a quarter (25%) included sources from the Pentagon, a soldier fighting in Iraq, or an immediate member of a soldier’s family. Ten percent of all blog postings had a source from other government officials, such as analysts from the State Department or the American embassy in Iraq. Furthermore, 16% of all postings included a government document as a source, such as a hyperlink to a PDF of a legislative bill or the complete voting results for a particular bill from the Office of the Clerk at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Considerably fewer blog postings, however, included sources from Iraqi government officials (11%), such as local police and security forces and hospital administrators, and an even smaller number offered sources from Sunni or Shiite politicians (five percent). And only two percent of all postings included a source from the Iraqi insurgency.

Five percent of posts included sources from Iraqi civilians, and eight percent had sources from U.S. civilians.

Finally, a quarter (25%) offered a source from a non-partisan, non-governmental entity, such as a think tank, polling organization, or university.

Sourcing in Newspapers

Turning to newspapers, the most frequent source was a U.S. military official or family member. Over half (53%) of all newspaper stories included a source from this cohort—more than double the percentage in blogs.

The second most common source was a Democratic one; more than three in ten stories (32%) offered a Democratic source.

A quarter (24%) included a source from the Bush Administration, and another 16% had a source from other Republican politicians or strategists.

Another 22% included a source from other government officials outside the halls of Congress, the White House or the Pentagon.

Newspapers were also likely to offer an Iraqi point of view. Thirty-one percent of all stories included sources from the Iraqi authorities. Two in ten (20%) stories included sources from either Shiite or Sunni politicians. An additional seven percent was from sources coded as insurgents.

At the non-political level, newspapers were more likely to quote an Iraqi civilian, with ten percent of all stories offering this point of view. Half that percentage (five percent) included sources from U.S. civilians who were not family members of an American solider fighting in Iraq.

Twenty-three percent used a poll, statement from a non-partisan think tank, or academic as a source.

Finally, eight percent of stories used a mainstream media outlet as a source, and just two percent included blogs.


Much of the current debate in journalism that centers around how sourcing is used in blogs concerns the issues of verification of information not reported in the mainstream press. But for now, this doesn’t appear to be their raison d’etre. The function of blogs may be an equally important one, however, offering a more nuanced, synthesized perspective not found anywhere else on the Web.

Perhaps what’s most at stake for blogs is to evaluate which voices are being synthesized. According to the data for this study, an admittedly limited one, bloggers may be missing perhaps the most important piece of the political puzzle when we acknowledge the realpolitik of Iraq.

Both the American and Iraqi people are growing increasingly weary of the American military presence in Iraq, according to public opinion polls in both countries. If there is one point Democrats and Republicans can agree on it is that Iraq’s future success rests on the further strengthening of Iraq’s political institutions.

Right now, it may be that the traditional press—represented by newspapers here-has picked up on this better than blogs. The data shows that roughly four times as many stories in newspapers included sources from leading Sunni and Shiite politicians as did blogs. Where blogs excelled, with more bloggers, media sources and original texts as sources, is perhaps more easily to duplicate for newspapers on their websites. What cannot be mimicked so easily is the ability to discern which way the political winds are blowing in Baghdad and Washington.

One might dismiss this conclusion as an elitist, Lippmanian one. Regardless, it begs the question of whether or not the public most benefits from a traditional journalist sensibility that, despite its flaws and declining commitment to foreign affairs, can still be found at the country’s best newspapers. Perhaps all those years of having boots on the ground overseas still colors, positively, newspaper coverage.

However, one should keep in mind that only a third (34%) of all bloggers considers their blog a form of journalism, according to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. So my insights may be a case of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Furthermore, until the mainstream press can better understand that media consumption and production are increasingly conversational, collaborative activities—where bloggers and citizens talk to each other—perhaps the best advice I can give is to take the time to read a newspaper and a blog or two.

About the Study

For this study, I counted the number of sources over seven days in late March 2007 (March 23-March 29). Only stories with the war in Iraq as the dominant story (50% or more of the story) were coded. Overall, 172 newspaper stories and blog postings–the units of analysis–were coded.

Sources did not have to be original. For example, a blog that quoted an interview from Senator John McCain that originally appeared in the Washington Post would be counted as a source, even though the actual reporting was not done by the blogger. Original sources, though in small numbers, could be found in blogs, most notably in Greg Sargent’s postings on Talking Points Memo.

First, I looked at five major newspapers: Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wire stories that appeared in newspapers were included. A total of 111 newspaper stories were coded.

Second, I conducted an analysis of three major blogs from the left and three from the right. They included: Talking Points Memo, Political Animal (the Washington Monthly blog), Daily Kos, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and Hugh Hewitt. A total of 61 blog postings were analyzed for the research.

For blogs, a source was defined as those that were available either on the homepage posting or those on secondary pages within one mouse click from the original blog posting. Then, sources within these secondary pages were coded as well (e.g. links to other news sources, bloggers, and government documents). This methodology was employed in order to measure—as much as possible—the total available number of sources that are consumed by the typical blog reader, and not just those that appear in the original blog posting. Sources within tertiary pages (and beyond) were not coded because I felt that only a small number of blog readers would actually read this deep into a blog posting. Nevertheless, these tertiary (and beyond) pages theoretically expand the number of potential sources and should be kept in mind before forming any firm conclusions about the nature of sourcing in blogs.

'Alive in Baghdad' uses Web to report the everyday dangers in Iraq

Brian Conley visited Iraq in October 2005 and spent three weeks filming a documentary about the life of Iraqis in a war zone. Accompanied by a translator and no security detail, he interviewed Iraqis about their lives at a time when the United States was struggling to shape some semblance of stability out of the growing chaos.

But instead of creating a documentary that screens at film festivals, he decided to create a website that “airs” short videos weekly. The site, Alive in Baghdad, has seen its traffic rise to well beyond film festival capacity.

“We’ve grown to actually become a small organization,” said Conley. “We have two Iraqi correspondents producing stories about daily life in Baghdad.”

Conley, 26, spoke to OJR about the challenges of running an independent Web operation that focuses on the lives of Iraqi struggling to survive in a war zone.

OJR: When I Google the word “Baghdad” and “video,” Alive in Baghdad comes up as the No. 1 result — above CNN, MSNBC, the BBC or Al Jazeera. What does this mean to you?

Conley: I think one thing is that we’ve got a niche. Alive in Baghdad is video only about Iraq and at this point still primarily about Baghdad. I think that if you look up “news” and “video,” you’ll likely get CNN much higher. But if you are looking for something about Baghdad specifically with video, there we are. It is really great for us because it means that we are really getting our message out that we have video about life in Baghdad.

OJR: The Alive in Baghdad correspondents… are they shooting and editing the video or does it come back to you?

Conley: They edit the video to the degree that they select tapes, but as of right now we do the editing here in the States. We try to take pains to do the editing in a way that it captures the story that they are interested in telling. And so far we haven’t had anybody say that ‘you took it out of context’ or ‘that is not what I was trying to get at.’

We try to produce stories in collaboration, where I’ll pitch some story ideas to the guys over there, and they’ll pitch story ideas to me. Then we come up with what’s do-able and what makes sense.

OJR: Do consider yourself a news organization?

Conley: Well, we take pains to be somewhat objective and unbiased.

OJR: What does “objectivity” mean to an independent Web-based organization?

Conley: I think being objective means that we always say that this is the story, these are the limitations of the story, and these are limitations for us get the story. Depending on the story, we try three to five sources but sometimes it is difficult. We did a piece about young people in Baghdad and what do they do for entertainment. We ended up airing it with only one interview because after trying for three months, we just couldn’t get the young people to even talk on camera about something as basic as “what do you do for fun?” Everyone is just so scared. Those were the limitations in that piece.

We also take really great pains to educate the correspondents. One correspondent very often would ask leading questions. So we told him to be more general. Don’t say, “Tell me about your son who was killed by the Americans,” say, “Tell me what happened to your son.”

OJR: And what are some of the challenges of running Alive in Baghdad?

Conley: Iraq and Baghdad have gotten more and more dangerous. We are realizing we have to branch out and find correspondents in different neighborhoods because somebody in one area doesn’t feel safe covering another area. But if we want to maintain balance and objectivity, we need to get stories from different parts of Baghdad instead of just one or two neighborhoods. That’s particularly challenging.

Tied to that is the issue of translations. I’m trying to get translations done in time to produce a story for every Monday. We have correspondents from one part of the Baghdad ship the video to us by DHL, which provides some level of security. Then in Boston, we capture the video as highly compressed QuickTime movies and then send the files by email or FTP to a translator in another part of Baghdad. The correspondent who shot the video from one part of Baghdad doesn’t feel safe traveling to another part of the city to hand the tapes to the translator.

OJR: You have actually interviewed an insurgent and a mother of a suicide bomber. Do you sometimes have to defend Alive in Baghdad from people accusing it of giving terrorists a platform?

Conley: Yeah, it’s definitely been a huge issue. Do I think that larger news organizations should be reporting on the military issues and interviewing politicians, and government officials? Yes, I certainly do. Right now CNN does that, MSNBC and other organizations do that fairly well.

I think that we are doing something very different. We are trying very hard to have a mixture of stories about the direct impact of the war, whether it’s about someone whose son was killed fighting the Americans, or a family whose home was smashed up during a raid by the U.S. forces. We are producing pieces that are just daily life in wartime stories. We try to get a variety of stories–from a piece about a house that was hit by a rocket to a story about a guy trying to figure out how to get electricity.

OJR: Do you have a sense of who is watching these videos globally?

Conley: It’s primarily the coastal areas of the United States, with some from the middle of the country. And Europe. There are some dedicated viewers in Japan with a surprisingly large upsurge in Brazil.

OJR: Specifically Brazil?

Conley: Yeah. We didn’t have a very big penetration in South America until some an article came out the press in Brazil in January or February. Since then the audience in Brazil has ballooned.

OJR: What about from Iraq itself?

Conley: Some, but not a lot.

OJR: Do you see a time when traditional media might rely on Alive in Baghdad to get the type coverage that they are currently not getting… somewhat of a symbiotic relationship in which you provide content and they funnel their massive following to your site?

Conley: I think a large part of this is just having more people be aware that the project exists and that they can find alternative coverage from Iraq. The larger media corporations won’t be able to get away with just saying, “sorry but this is the best coverage we can do,” because people can see the coverage we are doing.

The BBC and Sky News as well other media companies have approached us about doing work with them. I will pretty soon have a short documentary for BBC News and the licensing of five of our stories from Alive in Baghdad to Sky News for use during the anniversary of the war.

We are hoping to create a relationship where one of these media companies would air each week a weekly episode or one episode a month or something. And it still remains to be seen how we are going to work it out.

OJR: How are you financially supporting Alive in Baghdad?

Conley: We have pretty lucrative contracts with Sky News and BBC. We are also about to sign a contract with a company called Next News Network and that will finally let us pay a regular salary to Steve Wyshywaniuk, our editor and myself. Because of these deal, we can continue to produce for the next six or seven months as well as a probably hire a third correspondent.

OJR: If and when the U.S. forces leave Iraq, what role will Alive in Baghdad play?

Conley: That’s something I was thinking about a lot this summer when it was looking as though a withdrawal might even come sooner than first expected. What I realized is that once the American troops leave, so will the rest of the media. We have to scramble to get as much out of this as possible at that time so people will still keep their eyes on Iraq. That’s really important.

Porn site offers soldiers free access in exchange for photos of dead Iraqis

Warning: This story contains links to unsettling images and sites where people glorify violence and pornography — and document the hell of war. If only life came with such warnings.

The Internet has proven to be a vast resource of information and knowledge, but it only takes one hyperlink to get from the profound to the profane. When reading an Egyptian blog a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a bulletin board site called (NTFU), which started out as a place for people to trade amateur pornography of wives and girlfriends.

According to the site’s owner, Chris Wilson, who lives in Lakeland, Fla., but hosts the site out of Amsterdam, the site was launched in August 2004 and soon became popular with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. When female soldiers started to appear in the nude on the site, the Pentagon blocked access to the site from military computers in the field, according to the New York Post.

But the story gets more twisted. Wilson said that soldiers were having trouble using their credit cards in Iraq to access the paid pornographic content on the site, so he offered them free access if they could show that they were actually soldiers. As proof, some sent in G-rated photos of traffic signs in Baghdad or of a day in the life of a soldier abroad. Others sent in what appear to be Iraqi civilians and insurgents who were killed by suicide bombs or soldiers’ fire.

Now there’s an entire forum on the site titled “Pictures from Iraq and Afghanistan – Gory,” where these bloody photos show body parts, exploded heads and guts falling out of people. Along with the photos is a running commentary of people celebrating the kills, cracking jokes and arguing over what kind of weaponry was used to kill them. But the moderators will also step in when the talk gets too heated, and sometimes a more serious discussion about the Iraq war and its aims will break out.

Wilson told me in a phone interview that he is “not very” political and considers NTFU as a community site.

“People say, ‘This is a porn site so why are you talking politics?’ ” Wilson said. “But it’s actually a porn community, and any time you have a community with shared interests there’s going to be other interests. Just because somebody looks at porn doesn’t mean that they have a below-60 IQ and don’t know anything. I have doctors and lawyers and police officers and teachers, and it doesn’t surprise me that there are educated people who want to discuss things. It’s interesting, and I love reading it.”

Wilson has no qualms about running the gory photos of war in open forums that don’t require registration or payment.

“I enjoy seeing the photos from the soldiers themselves,” Wilson said. “I see pictures taken by CNN and the mainstream media, and they all put their own slant on what they report and what they show. To me, this is from the soldier’s slant. This is directly from them. They can take the digital cameras and take a picture and send it to me, and that’s the most raw you can get it. I like to see it from their point of view, and I think it’s newsworthy.”

Wilson says it’s a judgment call on whether the photos he gets are really from soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. After months of sifting through photos, Wilson has an idea of the quality of the digital cameras soldiers use and what the terrain is like in those areas of the world.

I couldn’t verify whether these gory photos were taken recently in Iraq by soldiers. But the U.S. military is currently looking into the site and trying to authenticate the photos — and take appropriate action if soldiers are involved. “We do have people who are specifically looking at that website, and I will talk to my colleagues and my bosses here and get back to you,” said Staff Sgt. Don Dees, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in Baghdad.

Two people posting gory photos to the site responded to my e-mail query into their motivations for doing it.

“I access [NTFU] from my personal computer, the government computers are strictly monitored,” one person wrote to me. “I would never try to use this site or anything like it on a government computer. To answer your question about posting the gory pictures on this site: What about the beheadings filmed and then put on world wide news? I have seen video of insurgents shooting American soldiers in plain day and thanking God for what they have done. I wouldn’t be too concerned what I am doing on a private Web site. I’m more concerned of what my fellow soldiers and I are experiencing in combat.”

Another person whose e-mail identified him as David Burke was defiant about posting gory photos and said it was a tradition of all wars.

“Yes I have posted kill photos on other forum sites,” Burke wrote me in his e-mail. “The computers are military financed if not owned by the military. I think that with all the service members who are over here it was obvious that photos of dead insurgents would surface as time went on and it is not a new occurrence. There have been pics from all wars of the fighters standing over the bodies of the enemy. The insurgents are more than willing to showcase our dead and wounded so if people have issues with what’s shown on this site then they need to stay away and quit bitching about things they know nothing about.

“I made it real clear in most if not all of my posts how I feel about the Iraqi people in general and that feeling has not changed a bit in my time here. I [put] a good friend of mine [in a body bag] just a week ago and that really clinched it for me and my teammates. We will always shoot first and ask no questions, period. The military brass will always try to sanitize the effects of war, no matter when or where, and yes if it was possible they would censor all media coming out of this country, pics and stories.”

Condemnation for site swift

The story of NTFU and its unusual exchange of free porn for gory war photos was first picked up by an Italian blogger named Staib, and then the Italian news agency ANSA. Blogger/journalist Helena Cobban, who pens a column for the Christian Science Monitor, asked her blog readers for an English translation of the ANSA article and quickly received many versions that clarified what the site was about.

Cobban was horrified by the gory photos, but tried to make sense of the motivation of people who posted them — and tried hard to grasp the idea of a serious discussion of war on a porn site. She told me that taking and posting “trophy” photos of dead Iraqis was a gross show of disrespect and a violation of the Geneva Conventions. But she put the blame on the direction of military leadership.

“The important thing is for the U.S. military and political leadership at the highest levels to recommit the nation to the norms of war including the Geneva Conventions, and to be held accountable for the many violations that have taken place so far,” Cobban said via e-mail. “What I don’t think would be helpful would be further punitive actions that are still limited to the grunts and the foot soldiers, who already have the worst of it.”

The Geneva Conventions include Protocol 1, added in 1977 but not ratified by the U.S., Iraq or Afghanistan. It mentions that all parties in a conflict must respect victims’ remains, though doesn’t mention the photographing of dead bodies. This could well be a judgment call, and the celebratory and derogatory comments added on NTFU make the case more clear.

When I contacted military public affairs people in the U.S. and Iraq, they didn’t seem aware of the site and initially couldn’t access the site from their own government computers. Eventually, they told me that if soldiers were indeed posting photos of dead Iraqis on the site, then it’s not an action that’s condoned in any way by the military.

“The glorification of casualties goes against our training and is strongly discouraged,” said Todd Vician, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman. “It is our policy that images taken with government equipment or due to access because of a military position must be cleared before released. While I haven’t seen these images, I doubt they would be cleared for release. Improper treatment of captured and those killed does not help our mission, is discouraged, investigated when known, and punished appropriately.”

Capt. Chris Karns, a Centcom spokesman, told me that there are Department of Defense regulations and Geneva Conventions against mutilating and degrading dead bodies, but that he wasn’t sure about regulations concerning photos of dead bodies. He noted that the Bush administration did release graphic photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein to the media.

Karns said that commanders in the field do have latitude to make their rules more stringent than overarching military regulations, but he didn’t expect that cameras would be banned in the field.

“I don’t think it will get to that point [where cameras would be banned],” Karns said. “All it takes is one or two individuals to do things like this that cast everyone in a negative light. The vast majority of soldiers are acting responsibly with cameras in the field. But on the Internet there aren’t a whole lot of safeguards and the average citizen can create their own site.”

Karns did say that if soldiers were posting these photos online, that it would have a negative strategic impact, especially when the enemy relies so heavily on the media to win the battle of perception.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, saw the gory photos as another black eye for the U.S. military after the Abu Ghraib prison torture photos.

“This is just another form of pornography,” Hooper told me. “I think this is something that should be strongly discouraged by military authorities. It’s going to give military personnel a bad name, it’s going to harm America’s image in the Muslim world and it’s just plain wrong. You have to wonder what this says about our military personnel, if first of all they’re dealing with pornography and why they would be reveling in the deaths of individuals in Iraq.”

Respected media outlets?

NTFU site proprietor Wilson says that the military blocking of his site upset him, but that traffic actually went up after it was blocked. He told me that if the military brass did get in touch with him, and had a good reason for him to remove the gory photos, he would.

“I get many requests for removal,” Wilson said. “I get 30 to 40 requests per day for removal for everything across the board on the site. I take each on a case-by-case basis. If [the military] wants something deleted because they think it’s a threat to national security or it’s showing too much, then obviously, yes, I’m going to get that out of there. But if they’re asking me to remove it because they just don’t like it, then no.”

Wilson says he supported Bush in sending troops to Iraq, but thinks it’s long past time that they need to be brought back home. He says he supports the soldiers, and thinks they are pretty split on whether they should be brought home or kept on the job in Iraq. Wilson has tried to obtain a less profane domain name for the site,, but that the domain’s owner was asking for way more money than it was worth.

Of course, the NTFU community is not alone in its fascination with the darker, more grotesque side of life. The site has been around for six years, and includes photos and video of murders, cannibalism, and war kills. The owners of the site explain in the FAQ that they do not enjoy seeing this violent material, but that they are trying to provide an uncensored view of reality.

“Ogrish does not provide a sugar-coated version of the world,” the FAQ says. “We feel that people are often unaware of what really goes on around us. Everything you see on is reality, it’s part of our life, whether we like it or not. We are publishing this material to give everyone the opportunity to see things as they are so they can come to their own conclusions rather than settling for biased versions of world events as handed out by the mainstream media.”

The site’s goal is pretty ambitious: “to become a respected media outlet for uncensored, unbiased news… [with] much more background and educational value to our content.” The site uses citizen correspondents in law enforcement and in medicine, much the way that NTFU depends on soldiers in the field who are armed with digital cameras.

Dan Klinker, who formerly was a co-owner of and now handles PR, told me via e-mail that the site is not about glorifying violence, unlike NTFU.

“As far as I know Ogrish is one of the only sites in this niche that have been focusing on the facts rather than presenting things in a glorifying way like a lot of other sites do (including NowThatsFuckedUp),” Klinker said. “Just the name of that site makes it clear that there’s only one goal, which is to shock, glorify and entertain. The combination with bloody pictures in return for naked girls makes them lose all credibility.”

While it was difficult for me to ascertain the motivation for people who were posting gory photos to NTFU, I did talk to Steven Most, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at Yale University who has studied the effects of violent and sexual images. He helped explain what these horribly violent images had in common with the nude photographs of women.

“They both seem to be particularly arousing in an emotional way,” Most said. “Emotional stimuli can be rated in different ways. You could see something and rate how positive or negative it is. But separate from that is how arousing the image is. A positive picture of a cute puppy dog could be positive but not that arousing, whereas a picture of an opposite sex nude could be just as positive but be rated as extremely arousing. And a picture of a mutilation could be rated as extremely negative but highly arousing. Lately there’s been a lot of theories saying that what we’re drawn to is the arousing nature of an image regardless of whether we see it as negative or positive.”