Should People in the Public Eye Expect Their Privacy to Be Respected by the Media?
Journalism is a field of work that requires an individual to balance the ethical aspects of invading another person’s privacy with getting the information they need to cover a specific story. It is becoming increasingly common to find out what a certain celebrity has said or done yesterday in today’s newspaper and magazine tabloids. Our society has become so fixated in watching and reading about others, that sometimes we forget that celebrities should have some privacy of their own.
Stories in the headlines can range from what a certain celebrity orders from a fast food restaurant to information concerning a divorce settlement between couples. Every solitary move a famous individual makes in his or her life is documented in a photograph, editorial, or headline on a TV show dedicated to exposing their life. If famous celebrities cannot receive any amount of privacy, why should individuals like ourselves be guaranteed that our personal lives are not exposed to the world?
Should not all human beings be able to keep certain aspects of their life personal? Journalists and photographers should realize that celebrities are human beings that would like to keep certain parts of their lives to themselves, and not have their lives consumed with photographs and editorials devoted to exposing all details of their life good or bad. The definition of public eye is people in the one, which consist of politicians, athletes, celebrities and other individuals who are famous.
For my presentation we will be concentrating on the public eye and whether they should expect their privacy to be respected by the media. Media comes in various forms, with the more common ones being newspapers, tabloids, radio, paparazzi, internet, social media and many more. With the amount of attention numerous celebrities receive from the media, invading their privacy is just another part of a journalist’s job description. Such actions as going through another individual’s trash can lead to the next big headline on tomorrow’s magazine.
Some journalists will ultimately dedicate their life to exposing someone else’s in magazine editorials and articles. The media is certainly abusing the rights they are given by exposing details of famous individual’s lives. Anything from celebrity scandals and breakups to private matters like divorce are always shown on TV shows featured on E News, which show the latest and most up to date stories. These shows will provide viewers with hard evidence including paper documents and photographs that depict a certain story.
Stories dealing with breakups, for instance, the popular divorce between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston after seven years of marriage, are sold to specific magazines for a large amount of money. Public eye privacy being invaded – a question that has been discussed over and over again in the media itself, the debate intensifying after the latest tragic break-ups by famous ex-actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was caught having an internal affairs with his maid is to believed his privacy being invaded.
Sought by celebrities, anonymous informers as well as ordinary citizens, privacy should be respected by members of the press – too often do journalists use techniques that show disregard for others’ distress in order to “get the story”. However, in other cases, it is due to the publication of “private” details that hidden agendas and acts of corruption are brought to light. It is the amount of public interest involved that is more important in determining whether or not the press is justified in overriding privacy.
The press – all members of the printed media, including newspapers, magazines, and tabloids – plays the important role of informing the public of what they need to know. This freedom of speech in the media is central to our democracy, as it means that the public’s main source of information is independent of any of the authorities, and is thus more likely to present information in an unbiased manner.
As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. “It is the right to know, the publics right to access information, which allows us to keep a critical eye on our society and ensure the fair running of our country. However, another basic human right is the right to privacy “freedom from intrusion and public attention” as defined in the Oxford Dictionary.
This includes privacy for the person, conversation, seclusion and personal information. That is, one should be able to lead a life without others following one all the time, eavesdropping on what one says, having one’s every move under surveillance, and making public one’s personal details. Such two basic human rights come into conflict when matters are to be reported in the media. What the press sees as information that ought to be made public may be considered private by the individual. 997 figures showed the privacy complaints made by both public personalities and private citizens, having tripled since 1994, stood at 9% of the total number of complaints lodged to the Press Council. Often when confronted with such accusations of intruding upon one’s privacy, the journalist’s defense is that it was in the “public interest”. This term, however, is rather vague. Many tend to define it as what the public is interested in – the kind of sensational news that increases circulation and sells papers.
Yet this sacrifice of the individual’s privacy for the entertainment of the general public is not “public interest”. In fact, it is the necessity of the public, as citizens, to have access to essential information. A great proportion of those mentioned in the media are ordinary citizens who, because of their experience of extraordinary circumstances, become significant. These people are most likely to be victims of crime or tragedy. In such cases, names, addresses, photographs and other details that would lead to the identification of the victim should not be published without consent.
It is not imperative for the public to know the name of the victim because, after all, stories reported in the media are often far removed from the readers’ daily lives that the name is of no more interest to them than a piece of trivia. Yet to the victim and his or her family and friends, publication of the name could mean embarrassment, harassment or even death threats from the criminal. In conclusion, the most basic form to freedom of expression and encourages the journalists to have public responsibilities as an honest and efficient journalist that respects the rights of others.
The 8th code of ethics in MEAA is to ‘use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material and never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice’, meanwhile the 11th code of to ‘respect private grief and personal privacy. But again, it does actually depend on what situation that the public eyes are going through. Is it bad or good thing that journalism should report a story regarding on their private life or its just counted as an entertainment values as in the public interest that will do the rating of a certain story to put in the tabloids.