Sunday, June 19, 2011

Privacy: Where do you get it?

Privacy has always been a touchy issue in journalism. How much information is too much? Is it really news worthy? Is it ethical? the questions surrounding the issue of privacy when it comes to journalism never seem to end. People criticize the paparrazi and tabloids but than again it is a known fact that these tabloids sell and people do bother to read them.

Is it ethical? Well, in my opinion it depends. If reports are made regarding a politician's scandal I think the public deserves the right to know. Take for instance John Edwards scandal in 2008. The former senate was considered a strong condenter for the democratic presidential nomination. After he suspended his campaign, it was said that he was short listed as a candidate for vice president or attorney general. Edwards was always seen with his wife Elizabeth who campaigned for him even though she was battling terminal cancer however, it was soon reported that Edwards was having an extra marital affair with Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker that he had hired for his presidential campaign and they even had a child together. In this case, I think the public definitely had the right and need to know because Edwards was a politician that could have been voted President or Vice President of USA. However, the media went on to expose photos of the mistresses's house and pictures of the baby which I felt was pretty unnecssary and were obviously exposed because the media knew that public would be interested to know.

How about celebrities then? Should thier love life or marriages be splashed across papers and magazines and all over the internet? Well, as much as it is an ethical decision that journalists have to make when coming up with stories, I think celebrities should know that as public figures it s part of their "fate" to be closely watched by the media and to some times have their personal lives magnified and reported in the media. However, how much is too much? Should a line be drawn?

In 2006, a Hong Kong singer Gillian Chung was secretly photographed while she was changing backstage during a performance in Malaysia. Pictures of her changing and semi nude were splashed across a tabloid magazine cover. In this case, the public definitely did not have the right nor the need to know. It was unethical on every level for the magazine to publish the photos.

In conclusion, I think journalists have the responsibility to gauge how much is too much when it comes to reports on a public figure's private matters. Just because the public wants to know something does not mean that they have the right or need to know.

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