When I heard the news about ESPN sports reporter Erin Andrews’ privacy being violated by someone secretly recording her nude in her hotel room, I was flabbergasted. Not because I, as a former sportswriter of 11 years and former sports reporter for CNN-SI, was reminded of the sexual harassment my female colleagues sometimes endure while trying to do their jobs. I was outraged because I’m a frequent traveler who spends many nights in hotel rooms. If Erin’s nude body isn’t safe undressing in her hotel room, what makes you think any of yours are either?
There haven’t been many stories about this from a traveler’s perspective but I suspect they are coming. And I haven’t even seen the name of the hotel printed yet. I imagine – and hope – this makes the hotel industry take notice and put covers over all of its peepholes.
The first thing I usually do when I enter a hotel room for the first time is make sure the alarm clock is turned off. I’ve been awakened too many times at 4 a.m. thanks to the previous guest leaving the alarm clock set — or sometimes I suspect the housekeeping staff gets together and plays jokes on the customers by setting the clock to some ungodly hour. On my hotel check list now will be cover the peephole. Call me Paranoid Paula but in some ways I’m not shocked this has happened to Erin. I admit in the past I’ve looked around hotel rooms for a red light that shouldn’t be there because I sometimes have had the feeling that I’m being videoed by someone on the hotel staff. (Do you get the sense that I don’t trust hotel staff?)
Most of the Web sites have removed the video of Erin, thanks to the threat of legal action. For those of you still hoping to see Erin, beware: clicking onto a link that promises to show you the footage could allows computer hackers access to your computer and leave you with a virus. That should teach you a lesson!
And I hope this startling incident teaches hotels and us a lesson too. Cover those peepholes!