What Makes It News?

Over the weekend I read this article in The Washington Post about a proposed 24-hour wait period on tattoo and body piercing in Washington, D.C. The proposal is part of a package of draft regulations by the city health department, a ploy that the article states is an attempt by the city to clean up some of its more socially liberal tendencies. Officials state that the waiting period is intended to prevent “serious health risks.” The article quotes a handful of shop owners and patrons who do not support the proposal, as well as a spokesman for the mayor, Vincent C Gray, who does not have high hopes for the proposed regulations. 

This article contains several news values, such as:

  • Relevance — body art and body modification is a big industry in California, especially popular among younger people.
  • Novelty — this story has uniqueness because waiting periods for body art are so rare. Tattoos are also still somewhat considered to be an act of social deviance, especially among the baby boomer generation.
  • Human interest — the proposed waiting period goes against a long-held ideal of America being The Land of the Free, where people are allowed to do what they want with their time and money. It also pings a more personal ideal of body agency, of being in control of your own self. Just like the 16 oz drink regulations in New York, this is seen as reaching beyond regulation in the interest of public health and into the realm of parenting by the state.

To localize this story, I would look into already existing regulations for tattoo and body piercing in California and San Jose. I would get opinions from artists and their patrons, to see how it would affect business practices and purchase habits. I would also look into getting a statement from the public health department to see if they had any thoughts on how the public would or would not benefit from such regulation.

Finished 9/10

Word count: 327