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WSOC Retracts ‘Vagina First’ Graduation Story

WSOC is apologizing for a series of stories covering a “controversial” high school yearbook photo that may or may not have shown an 18-year-old student lifting up her graduation gown to flash her vagina.

In an all-caps message on its website this week, the Charlotte ABC-affiliate issued a formal apology and retracted all of the stories published on the site related to the photo.

“WE OPENLY AND FULLY APOLOGIZE TO THE YOUNG LADY SHOWN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH AND TO OUR READERS,” the post states, listing a series of statements contained in the stories that the station now admits were made in error.

Among the statements that the station published in reporting on the photo was this (the first line of the original article posted on its website):

While many students graduating high school and moving on to the world beyond want to leave a lasting impression on their alma maters, most don’t think about doing it vagina first.

Beginning May 23rd, WSOC aired multiple stories on the yearbook photo and posted at least five articles on its website. And it quickly made the rounds online.

It appears that the story originated from a single parent’s complaint to the station.

In addition to posting the retraction on its website, WSOC anchor Blair Miller read a formal apology to viewers at the top of the station’s late newscast on Thursday.

Here’s the original report…

And here’s a follow-up story, featuring reactions from students…

Below is an excerpt from WSOC’s online retraction:

SOME OF THESE ARTICLES CONTAINED STATEMENTS TO THE EFFECT THAT THE YOUNG LADY STOOD AND LIFTED HER GOWN WAIST HIGH AND INTENTIONALLY EXPOSED HER BARE GENITALS AND PRIVATE PARTS IN ORDER TO MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION AND LEGACY AT HER ALMA MATER; THAT THE YOUNG LADY THOUGHT ABOUT MAKING THIS LASTING IMPRESSION VAGINA FIRST; THAT THE YEAR BOOK CONTAINED PORNOGRAPHY; AND THAT THERE MIGHT BE SOME CONSIDERATION BY THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL CHARGES OR POSSIBLE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES.

UPON CLOSER EXAMINATION, THESE STATEMENTS ARE IN ERROR.

WSOC seemed to know almost immediately that it had gone too far in reporting on the photo, especially in its online coverage.  Shortly after it posted the original article, the station revised the aforementioned opening line.  “Most don’t think about doing it vagina first” was changed to “most don’t attempt a legacy by exposing their private parts.”

The articles have been taken down but a cached version is available here.

The (purportedly) original yearbook photo can be viewed here.

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