Whistle-blowing Invasion of Privacy These notes were prepared in June
We discuss what it means to be a public figure and what rights journalist have to examine their lives and the lives of their families. We conclude by examining the rights of people to grieve in private. Problems arise where the right of society to be informed conflicts with the right of individuals to privacy.
This is an area where sensitivity is important and where your concern for the individual must be balanced with your responsibility to society as a whole. On issues of privacy and public interest, there is often no clear-cut distinction between right and wrong.
We can give some general guidance and suggest a few rules, but you will have to decide what to do case-by-case.
For example, should you go up to grieving parents and try to interview them about their murdered son? Should you approach a politician at a social event and ask him questions about his work?
For example, should you publish a story about a local sporting star leaving his spouse and children for another woman or man? An example of this is when covering a tragedy.
You may be able to justify telling your readers or listeners about the murder of a child, even though the publicity will cause the parents further grief.
But you might not be able to justify going up to the parents and asking questions while they are shocked and grieving.
There are some very clear conflicts and not many simple answers. We will guide you through some of the main problem areas, giving you as much advice as possible.
But in the end, you and your fellow journalists will still have to make hard decisions yourselves. In cases where people have jobs with normal working hours, the boundaries are usually clear between their private lives and their work.
The bus driver becomes an employee when he starts his working day and reverts to being a private individual when he finishes work. He can be as rude, unhelpful and abusive as a he wants in private, but is expected to be polite and helpful when on duty.
The distinction between private and public lives becomes less clear when people carry on part of their professional life outside of normal working hours.
A successful businessman needs to make contacts at any time, a social worker may decide to call on a client on his or her way home, just for a chat. They are carrying their professional lives into their private time, but are they merging their professional and private lives?
Politicians are the best examples. People elect politicians to office for who they are, not just for their skills in a particular job. Priests are another group who present their total selves to the public, especially their parishioners. Then there are people in the world of entertainment who depend for their success on the image they project to the public.
Many deliberately blur the distinction between their on-screen and off-screen personalities to achieve success. For example, many film stars like to appear glamorous in real life and have their photographs published in newspapers and magazines so that they remain well-known and will be chosen for another movie.
This is most easily answered where the individuals are public figures, especially where they are people who have put themselves forward for public positions of trust. We are talking here particularly about people like politicians, group leaders, clergymen and all those people whose personalities and private morality are essential parts of their work.
You must make a distinction between those people who have voluntarily entered the public arena and those who are forced into it by circumstances they could not reasonably have expected. For example, a businessman who holds a press conference to announce some new money-making project is seeking public attention; the airline hostess who suddenly discovers she has contracted a rare tropical disease has simply been thrust into the news against her will.It is true that politicians and public figure themselves seek to be known to the public.
They should be arrested and fined for invading the privacy of others and the magazines who buy the pictures should be sued as well. i mean, sure, take pics at movie premiers and private do's but give these people a chance to live their live in peace.
So to sum up: although public figures have no legal rights to privacy from the media, there are an increasing number of cases where various tabloids have been reprimanded over privacy issues.
There are circumstances where it seems justified for privacy to be overridden, the most obvious of these is when a person of responsibility is abusing a position of power.
Consequently, if appropriate, you should provide examples of the individual seeking media or public attention or engaging in political, public, or government activities in order to reduce the privacy .
The prevalent right to privacy is easily compromised for other competing rights of ‘public good’, ‘public interest’ and ‘State security’, much of what constitutes public interest or what is private is left to the discretion of the media.
Media ethics Media ethics is the subdivision of applied ethics dealing with the specific ethical principles and standards of media, including broadcast media, film, theatre, the arts, print media and the internet.
The field covers many varied and highly controversial topics, ranging from war . Much will depend on whether the media can spell out a convincing public interest justification. It is difficult to define precisely. It is likely to apply to information about threats to public safety or welfare, crime or corruption, exposing lies or deception, or serious maladministration of a .