Spies: what happened to mug shots? The Guardian has described accused Russian spy “Anna Chapman” as being “at the centre of one of the most intriguing spying scandals since the cold war”. How have they drawn this conclusion? Are they acting on an FBI brief about the arrests? Have they delved deep into the core of the story and found something? No.

They’re talking about the visually appealing scale; attractiveness. Yeah, that old angle on suspected spies. The New York Post has also aided the investigation by discovering her fundamental traits: “… a 28-year-old divorcee with a masters in economics, an online real-estate business, a fancy financial district apartment and a Victoria’s Secret body.”

News outlets from around the world have compiled gallery after steamy gallery of “Chapman”. Most of the photos have been taken from her Facebook page with some outlets, in their haste, not even bothering to crop the surrounding social networking site’s insignia. News outlets from Australia including The Advertiser and The Australian have also jumped on the bandwagon.

The general media trend has been to “sex-up” the solo female spy, deep behind enemy lines. And the story has been airbrushed to within an inch of its life. They’ve giver her a rather hard-boiled flavour with terms such as “femme fatale” and “sexy Russian spy”. If you want a nostalgic look at spies that were easy on the eye go here. We’re not kidding.

In one of the photos, “Chapman” is even captured in front of a black-and-white photograph of Humphrey Bogart — famous for slapping and then naturally kissing ingénues. She’s also snapped in front of the Statue of Liberty. It’s like a rollicking roll of holiday snaps at some of America’s most famous sites.

In all the images, the courtroom sketches are the most appropriate. They bring the ludicrous coverage back to reality. The principle that one is innocent until proven guilty remains important. Yet this takes the “famous for being famous” trend to new heights — or depths. And we don’t even know her real name. — Crikey intern Michael Carter

Aunty self-flagellates

“ABC managing director Mark Scott has ordered a review of how the broadcaster handles breaking news across TV and radio.” — The Australian

Watermark gate continues at Fairfax Digital

“Fairfax Digital has undertaken a review of videos carried on its websites and removed a number that did not meet its ‘fair dealing’ requirements following an item by Mumbrella over its appropriation of YouTube content.” — mUmbBrella

The ‘oil spill’ beat: new editor for spill at AP

“With the BP oil spill certain to generate news for a long time, The Associated Press on Wednesday named an editor dedicated to coverage of the disaster.” — Editor & Publisher

HuffPo boss: it’s time to get social

“First and foremost, we are positioning ourselves as a social-media company…” — AdvertisingAge

Former Fairfax exec hurts Fiji’s fair facts

“A former Fairfax newspaper executive is the chief censor for Fiji’s dictator and in charge of his latest crackdown on press freedom.” — The Australian

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey